“Everybody has a creative potential, and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.” – Paulo Coelho
Creativity is defined as “the use of the imagination or original ideas.” I think we can all agree that having original ideas does not require being into painting or sculpting. Scientists often have ideas that they test, and some of those ideas end up becoming scientific theories—still others making it as far as to become scientific laws. People often rule out what they are capable of, making blanket statements such as “math isn’t my thing,” “I’m not an artsy person,” or “I’m not musically inclined.” While there is something to be said for your natural strengths and weaknesses in different areas, I think that by saying things like that, you’re immediately limiting yourself, and in turn, potentially missing out on something you might love or enjoy. For the longest time, I used to be convinced that I was left-brained, telling everyone that I was a science-y person and that the only reason I was good at music was that music has mathematical elements that I naturally excelled at. If you asked me about poetry five years ago, I would’ve laughed in your face, because poetry was something that seemed abstract to me. I didn't know how a poem about different footpaths in a forest could represent life choices (“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost). It all seemed so ambiguous, confusing, and pointless to me that I never took the time to try to learn the mechanics of a poem, and in turn, I just never read poetry, because “poetry isn’t my thing.” I assumed that since I was good at math, I’d never be the sort of person to voluntarily read a poetry anthology. Today, I write poetry for fun. It’s my favourite kind of writing. I love analysing poetry, and being able to write it has become therapeutic for me as far as my struggle with anxiety is concerned. Sometimes I stop and wonder how much more I might have been able to develop this skill had I not shunned it throughout my teenage years. Furthermore, I’ve switched from being a bio major to being an English major over the last year—there’s the “I’m left-brained and can’t be good in the arts” myth debunked. I can still be good at math and science if I put my mind to it, but I’ve decided to explore my other “hidden” talents, and it’s turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. I think the mindset that only certain people are creative leads us to stop ourselves from trying new things because we feel that we won’t be good at them. I also think that more than anything, we hide behind these statements and use them as excuses, because we’re so afraid of failure. While you may never be a Vincent van Gogh, you can still express your creativity in other ways.
Even within the Faculty of Arts, there are so many disciplines (music, English, fine arts, language); even a “right-brained” individual cannot be simultaneously good at all of those things. The same goes for the science kids. I have a friend who is a genius at physics and chemistry yet struggles hard in biology. Actually, you are engaging both hemispheres of your brain in whatever you are doing. For example, if I were to write a book, I’d have to be very knowledgeable and have solid research to back the subject I am writing about—and that’s something that is classified as being very “left-brained.” Engineers, similarly, must have a visual idea of what the bridge they’re designing will look like and how it will structurally blend in with its surrounding architecture.
Everyone has a creative capacity, and creativity itself is not something a person is born with, it’s learned. As well, there is no one proper way of expressing creativity. Whatever your “thing” may be, please don’t be afraid to expand your horizons and try new things! Don’t let your perception of what creativity is limit you to living in your comfort zone. If I had never begun to write poems, I might be facing my crippling anxiety with no outlet, and as a person, I’d be significantly less stable than I am now.
I am not denying the reality of being better at somethings as opposed to others; I just want to assert that oversimplifying your abilities is a very harmful thing. Be open to trying new things even if they don’t fit into your realm of familiarity. You might discover a new hobby or learn a new skill, and it’s okay if you aren’t the best at it! Also, stop telling yourself that you aren’t creative because that’s just not true. Whatever it is you’re good at, you have so much to offer, and there are so many ways that you can manifest your own original ideas.