[This is a guest post from the brave and amazing Penny McKinley-Rodgers]
I’ve struggled with my creative identity for as long as I can remember, and it is only been in the last year that I feel I am untangling and emerging from the net of insecurity and fear which has held me hostage for so long. You see, creativity has always been in my life, but I coveted it from the sidelines. For me creativity and artists are synonymous; and artists are cool. They belonged to an exclusive club I so desperately wanted to join, but didn’t feel I had the right qualifications for.
Admittedly I did try and be cool. I looked at these artists and attempted to emulate them. I thought if only I could be a little more like them, I might find my own creative success. Needless to say all I found was the unhealthy compulsion for comparison, the ultimate death knell of creativity! When I finally got sick of the dissonance, I realised true success can never come from pure imitation. Creative success is ignited by spirit, and there’s no spirit in copying someone else.
In some ways I think I always knew that, but I was in denial. It’s so much easier hiding in the shadows of others, or behind a congenial facade. I wanted a safe way to explore my creativity, free from judgement, criticism, and the worst fear of all, rejection. But there is no comfortable place for creativity. There is no safe path to follow. You have to be a pioneer.
Creativity is founded in authenticity, and that in turn, is borne out of courage. For me, this has been my greatest difficulty. My ego is sensitive, and I have an army of gremlins on standby to leap at any opportunity to keep me small. I struggle with being totally open because it isn’t easy to expose who you are; to put it out there and say, “Okay, this is who I am. This is what I love, and this is what I do.” Because inevitably you will be judged, and yes, it is personal.
Interestingly enough it wasn’t until I was asked to write this guest post that I really took the time to peel back the layers and explore to importance of creativity in my life. Thanks to Susannah, I now have at least ten posts about this matter to muse on. I’m realising that the risk of vulnerability is a small price to pay for creative expression and that the risk of appearing foolish is worth taking to do what I love. This is the only way I can be true to myself — my creativity is important.
I once thought my greatest fear was being invisible. Now I wonder if the opposite is true. I guess I’m on my way to finding out.
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I’m a girl with a camera who still can’t quite believe she has the power to make her dreams come true. But I’m working on it.
[Photos by Penny McKinley-Rodgers]