Here’s a secret about the Discovery process: it will require you to do something you think the you cannot do. At some point along the way, the new creative gifting you’ve uncovered in yourself will force you to take a step that you think is beyond you. You may have to try a skill set you’ve never attempted before, or admit to a desire you think is too risky to express. Or maybe you’ll be forced to let yourself have something you think is too much to ask for. You may have to give yourself permission to reach for the creative horizon before you, even as everything inside of you screams in doubt against your action.
That was my story, at least.
Remember the my ballroom dance story from last week? Well, that was only the first half of my Discovery process. I had struggled through the battles of self-awareness and honesty, seizing an opportunity to try something I’d always wanted. I gathered my courage and stepped out, but I still had another hurdle in front of me: permission. Yes, I was brave enough to walk through the door. I tried something new, and found my desire ran deeper than I had expected. Would I commit to pursuing my new-found desire? I wanted to, but I had to overcome barriers of fears, doubts, and unexpected insecurities to make the choice I’d dipped my toe into the waters; would I give myself permission to swim?
My great struggle wasn’t with a lack of desire to dance, but with a deep fear that what I wanted was somehow too frivolous, too impractical to be pursued. As far as I knew, the creative garden planted in my heart was made of practical plants - vegetables, fruit trees, herbs. Coming from a long line of practical creatives, it was only natural for me seek out art forms that could be somehow applied for useful purposes. All of my creative gifts had an element of the practical about them. They could be used to earn money, solve a problem, or benefit someone else. I could prove that my efforts brought useful results, and were therefore worth the time, energy, and resources I devoted to them.
If my other creative gifts were a vegetable garden, then ballroom dance was an exotic orchid. It was expensive, time consuming, and seemed to offer no benefits beyond my own pleasure. I couldn’t sell it, feed myself with it, or use it to help anyone but myself. Where would I ever be able to use a waltz in real life? What benefit could I gain from knowing how to rumba? Dance was pure frivolity, beauty for beauty’s sake. It seemed there was just no way to make this frivolous longing jive with my practical mindset. Yet dancing made me feel alive in ways no other creative outlet could touch. Was personal enjoyment alone enough to justify something so costly?
I struggled to reconcile my desire and my practicality until I realized something important: my creative gifts didn’t all have to serve the same purpose. The purposes of my gifts could be as unique as the gifts themselves. My vegetable garden was wonderful, but that wasn’t all I was allowed to grow. Dancing’s exotic blossoms were just as worthwhile a creative gift as any of my more practical talents. Perhaps I could have a greenhouse full of orchids, or plant a field of wild poppies. My creative garden could house a veritable jungle of gifts, passions, and skills - all I needed was to give myself permission to let my them grow. So I gave myself permission, and watched my creative garden grow lush with new dreams and new gifts.
Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in the South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative outlets; when she isn’t making art or writing, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!