A while back I read a news blurb in The Week that talked about how the military has a gizmo that, when worn by soldiers, removes all self-doubt. Soldiers wearing the device have an incredibly rapid learning curve – learning new languages or becoming proficient in shooting in days or weeks instead of months or years.
Like so many things, I read that and processed it cognitively and in relation to others. I failed to look at myself to see where myself-limiting beliefs are holding me back.
In fairness to me (get ready for a justification), I have broken down many self-limiting beliefs about who I am, what my value to the world is, what my place in the world is, etc. Yes those are important and wonderful steps to take and, in my opinion, have transformed me into a much happier and effective person. Not only have those changes changed my life on a personal level, they also motivate me to help others do the same.
But I stopped too soon. And if history is any indicator, which it usually is, I still probably have a long ways to go into that unexplored territory.
If you read my recent blog about my art experiment, you may have already guessed where I still have many self-limiting beliefs. I believe myself to be pretty much devoid of artistic creativity or ability, with the possible exception of dance where I possess a modicum of ability. As a result, I have never really pursued any of the artistic or creative pursuits with any real interest or commitment. This is confounded by my impatience for the creative process; ironically I believe it’s my intellectual creativity (vis a vis boredom) and desire to get things done that stand in the way of my trying to develop any nascent artistic creativity. But art is about the process, not the quality of the end product, a lesson I am trying to teach others about our life’s journeys.
So who’s the hypocrite here?
I’m not proud of it.
I had an aha moment of self-awareness as I was protesting my lack of artistic ability and finally was able to hear myself talk. That hypocrisy was all over me, like white on rice. Not that I’m saying I’m some latent Van Gogh, but rather that my lack of talent has been an excuse for me to not explore this side of me.
An old girlfriend used to always tell me how creative I am and I’m starting to agree with her. No, it’s not in the visual arts per se but I’m actually pretty proud of the ability to decorate my home respectably, that I’ve been a decent seamstress in the past, and I’ve taken pride in the presentation of food I’ve prepared. I’ve enjoyed playing the piano and dancing as I’ve mentioned, and it turns out I love to write. Whodda thunk?
Given that I am now acknowledging a fair amount of cognitive dissonance up until this point, I now wish to explore my artistic side a bit more intentionally. Time to take up the piano and dancing again, for sure. I have also been longing for years, for example, to learn the taiko drums (anyone know anyone around here?). But for the other things (remember I’m still scarred by the C I made in art in middle school) I am going to recruit my girlfriends to join me in this exploration over wine and cheese. We will take turns leading an exploration of a different side of our creative selves. We can try stand up, singing, playing music, decorating, arranging music with other activities, physical expression, cooking, ceramics, painting, dance, sewing/quilting, creative writing, you name it. We can be creative about being creative. And we’ll do it together.
I have heard story after story of people in mid-life discovering their creative side and uncovering a bit of talent. I don’t think I feel the need to be good at any of these things. I will pursue them because they bring me pleasure and are an outlet for creative expression. Furthermore, doing them with friends will mean a bonding experience and fellowship. What else could I ask for?