How many times have you scrapped a project because you were sure it was going to turn out like crap?
Or – frantically scribbled down a clever idea in the middle of the night, only the rip it apart the next day, cursing: “What was I thinking!?”
Or – failed to try your hand at something, because you were sure that you couldn’t do it very well so why bother?
We live in a world that obsesses over excellence. We revere it like an ancient god with powers far beyond our own. And in turn, we reward it with acclaim, adoration, idolatry even.
Why do we seem to think that the only creativity worth admiring is the kind that is exceptional?
And what does that do for the creative confidence of us mere mortals?
Cultivating Creative Confidence
Creativity is not a gift. It’s an attribute we all possess. We don’t manifest art because we are creative. We’re creative, plain and simple. What we produce is an expression of our souls.
Being good at it shouldn’t even be a consideration. Who stops having sex because they aren’t the best lover in the world? Expressing creativity is a human need. We shouldn’t stop making stuff just because it might not be the best-thing-ever.
Being creative takes courage to be uncertain about your talent and make stuff anyway, because that’s what your soul needs you to do.
Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.
Reveling in Mediocrity
Personally, I’m sick of awesomeness being so exclusive. I want to see more okay or not-too-bad things get the spotlight once in awhile, and “average” people getting attention for their efforts. I love watching amateur theatre or admiring the work of aspiring artists and writers. It brings me joy to see the work that comes from someone else’s joy. It doesn’t have to be amazing for me to appreciate it.
Don’t get me wrong: I love masterpieces too. But few of us are prodigies. Excellence, in fact, is born of repeated effort. Perhaps if we embraced this a little more – if we loved our crap simply because it was our own effort that produced it – we would have the creative confidence to work at it until excellence emerged.
Sadly, I – like other people I know – have passed up many opportunities to express my creativity because I thought my work would not be good enough. I missed out on getting better. But, as I grow older, I am getting more courage to tolerate uncertainty and let my okayness shine. Do you have the guts to embrace mediocrity and keep making, even when it feels like you’re not good enough?
For more on this topic, check out this post: Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Badly.