My science fair experiments in junior high focused around the science of photography. When I went to high school in Illinois, I had an art teacher that recognized my talent and allowed me to register for a course normally reserved for upperclassmen. My creativity was fed and nourished both at home and in school. Once I moved to Texas, I took photography in high school, along with computer programming classes. Most of my friends took word processing in 1986, but I chose to take computer math & computer science. All things that stretched my mind, and made me a creative thinker.
Somewhere in college, I got away from that thinking. Maybe it was because your math, science & language art skills are ranked as higher needs for getting in to college? Maybe it was because that is what the focus of my college courses were. Maybe it was simply the pressure to make grades. I’m not quite sure where the shift came in. I just know that when I considered majoring in photography, I felt like the only way I could ever make a living as a photographer was if I went to journalism school. I never saw any other path. I mean, after all — who else needs photographers besides newspapers and magazines, right?
I know. I’m laughing too as I type that out. I’ve been a professional photographer now for over 7 years, and I’ve never graduated with a photography degree, nor have I ever worked as a journalist.
I learned to celebrate my creativity.
As I look back, I can see when the shift started. It all began with writing through my feelings that I learned that I could be a photographer. Writing my feelings out. Blogging for me has always been digital journaling. It is how I process things. I sort out what I’m thinking by saying it out loud. If no one is around to listen, I write it out. Writing, writing… until I come to the end.
Journaling lead me back to my creative self. Digital photography took away the barrier of film costs, and let me start taking photographs again. Getting a digital camera back in 2003 (thanks to Mike purchasing it to support my creativity) let me stretch my wings. It let me capture the world that I saw. The camera in my hand and writing about the world I experience lead me to where I am today.
However, to truly find my happiness? I had to DIG IN. What lights me up? What drives me? It took work to find that, digging through a lot of emotional rubble and throwing out a lot of baggage that I had picked up along the way.
What is the emotional rubble and baggage that is holding you back? What would happen if you dug underneath it?
It is time for us to stop teaching kids and telling ourselves that being a certain way is “right” or “wrong”. If everyone in the world was all the same, it would be a boring place.
I was so moved watching this TED video of Sir Ken Robinson on how schools kill creativity. It got me thinking about my journey. About how even more these days, we place all the emphasis in schools on math & science (even though the American education system is failing at it), because those are the things that industry needs.
Industry doesn’t need artists, so why celebrate it in the education system?
About 15 minutes in to the video above, he shares the story of Gillian Lynne, the choreographer of Cats and Phantom of the Opera. In the 1930s, she was sent to a specialist because she was fidgety. The doctor told her mother that she didn’t have a problem, that she was a dancer. She had to move to think. Her mother listened, and enrolled her in dance school. Her art has in turn touched so many other lives.
These days, she might be put on medication and told to calm down. Why? Instead of celebrating people’s natural talents, who are we trying to force people to fit in to a box that might be completely wrong for them? Why if someone does poorly in Math but excels in the arts do we consider that wrong? Give them poor marks? Fail them in school?
I truly believe we need to rethink how to embrace creativity. Our education system has taught us to celebrate math & language, and then the humanities – and put the arts last. Our imagination is a GIFT.
Yet as a society, we often feel the need to keep our creativity quiet. To not celebrate it. I know many creative people who still consider themselves to be “dumb” because they made poor grades in school.
As adults, we have to break down these mental blocks for ourselves, to learn to celebrate what lights us up.
Learning to do that? Changed my life. Today? I see myself as wildly smart — because I am creative. I may not have a diploma on the wall to celebrate that, and I won’t deny it took me years to stop beating myself up for that.
Why do we feel guilt for not having a degree, or for not being “smart enough”? Why is it so hard to celebrate our gifts?
Through journaling, blogging, and photography? I’ve learned that I am amazing.
Once I cleared the emotional rubble and all the baggage, I learned that what lights me up is help women become more confident in themselves, their beauty and their voice.
More than anything? I want to help you see for yourself how amazing you are, how I see you. From there, I want to help you share it with the world.
Learning this about myself not only changed my life, but it also changed my business. It made me happier in my work. It fuels everything I do now.
It is my mission behind my photography, and behind Vivid & Brave.
Take a journey of self-discovery. Change your perspective on the world, from the inside out.
All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. – Pablo Picasso
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Beautiful post Christine! A topic near and dear to me, being a “creative” and having a daughter who has been convinced by public school education that what she is really good at, isn’t important. So frustrating to watch our schools cutting art programs. Our local high school just made PE optional! Thank you for this! You are truly AMAZING! xo
I know this is so not the point of this article, but where did you go to high school? I’m from Illinois?
And as for the other things you had to say: YES. THIS.