Finding Your Voice
Sounds pretty romantic, searching for something you already have. Hell, I've spent almost 30 years looking for mine. Don't get me wrong, I've always considered myself a creative person. Yet, I don't always feel creative. As a kid, I drew pictures and painted because I felt like it. I danced and wrote poetry because I felt like it. I was creative every day because it felt good. Like any gift, I accepted my creativity and shared it with others. I still carry this gift, but the difference now is that I rarely share it. As I got older I felt more ownership than acceptance, more obligation than motivation. I became more concerned with tasks and deadlines than I was expressing myself. I was experiencing a form of creative atrophy, as my connection to my gift was slipping away.
As co-founder of a small studio, you can imagine how scary and uncomfortable this was. To be honest, it was terrifying. While my crew was looking to their captain for guidance, I was drifting away at sea. I would talk about doing things and never do it. Even when I started something I rarely finished it. I preached a life with unblocked creativity, but could not have been more blocked myself. It was painful, and it was starting to affect my peers. It was time to take a deep look in the mirror and get back to dry land where I could share my perspective.
How did this happen? It's simple. I didn't share my work. I didn't communicate what was on my mind and in my heart. I was hiding, letting self-doubt have its way with me. It took me years to understand the bond between creativity and communication. As my community got smaller my gift became less useful. Community gave my purpose to my perspective. That's why it's so important to share your gift. It's the only sure way to create lasting impact. Sharing your gift brings peace to people's lives, including your own. I'm blessed to have people in my life who notice my gift, and call me out when I'm not sharing it. They tell me when my art brings them joy, and how much they love collaborating with me. I never knew others wanted to hear my perspective, let alone need it. That was my breakthrough. I had a voice, and it was needed. I'm convinced this is true for everyone. We all belong to a community whether we've identified it or not, and that community needs us.
So that's it, be creative and share it with others? Sounds easy enough. What about connecting to my gift in the first place? In my experience, it's easier said than done, and it takes time. As a kid, I had all the time in the world to make things. As an adult, sometimes it feels like there's never enough time. I learned that you have to create space for yourself and make the time so that you can take your time. I don't mean sit around and wait for inspiration to come. Put in the time to master your craft. No matter the medium, it's crucial to establish consistent contact with your gift. I promise that if you don't use it, you'll lose it. I didn't understand the impact of this until I read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Throughout the reading there was one simple habit encouraged, write every morning. That's it. No agenda or set topic. Commit to three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing. They can be about anything and everything that crosses your mind, and they are for your eyes only. Don't overthink it, just do three pages... and then do three more pages tomorrow.
The beautiful thing is how this one habit affected several aspects of my life. I wasn't just getting more comfortable with writing. I was building a stronger relationship with my perspective. By getting my thoughts out on the page, I was able to understand my intentions and navigate the day with purpose. My creativity was now supported by direction. No longer drifting, I was finding my way back to shore. I can't stress enough how beneficial this was. Repetition strengthened my creative muscles, and as familiarity grew so did my confidence.
Now that I'm heading back to shore, how do I find my voice? The truth is, there's nothing to find. We have everything we need as creative beings. Searching for it is counter-intuitive. Our voice is our unique perspective. I believe it's a gift we receive at birth. Once accepted, it's important to connect with it, use it often, and share it with others. Over time, our voice will continue to reveal itself as it's strengthened by our community. If there is one thing I want to leave you with, it's that. Community nurtures creativity, and communication is the fabric that binds them together.
Thank you for listening.