Being an Odd Bird aka Choosing a Creative Life

Once a dear friend asked me, “Jamie, how do you deal with being weird?”

“I’m weird?”

I had no idea – but as creatives, we tend to be a little different than your average bear.

We’re the ones unloading 3 books, 4 journals, a sketchbook and an overflowing pencil case onto the table at the coffee shop. We’re the ones with paint under our fingernails and ink on our nose. We’re constantly making things our own, whether that’s our home, our meals, our methods or our style. We have irrepressible passions – for flowers or flamenco, for poetry or pottery, for books and lists and jazz and well, you name it – and we give our passions our all. Others may think we have a “nice hobby” but we know it is something more.

And sometimes we discover that our beloved artistic nature creates a sense of dissonance, a bit of friction with the world. Maybe the people in our lives don’t ‘get it.’ We’re careful in our conversations not to mention things like journaling, magic, dreamboards, life drawing, photography, fairy gardens, our love of colour, our desire to dance and to attend art retreats, our dreams of being published, etc. Though we are sensitive to the reactions and expectations of others, we find it hard to slip into ‘the way it is’ and painful to conform. We long for something off the beaten path, something every bit as real but not nearly as common.

We long for a creative life.

And a creative life looks different for each of us. It might mean working a comfortable job and investing your earnings in art classes and writing retreats. It might mean getting up early to write poetry by candlelight. It might mean becoming a part of an improv troupe or learning how to temper chocolate or knitting blankets for preemies. It might mean working as a temp between acting gigs, fundraising for your documentary or starting your own business.

What your creative life looks like is up to you.

No one else. You.

That’s not to say that everyone won’t have an opinion. Everyone will. Everyone.

Some people just won’t get it. They’ll think you’re a bit of an odd duck. Others will think you are special and rare. Still others will think, “Oh, it’s lovely that you have a hobby, dear.” And many (many) will warn you against trying to make it more than that. Some will assess your “talent” and the viability of this path for you. Some will think it’s worthwhile only if it makes money: “If you can make a living, pursue it; otherwise, let it go, sweetheart.”

Don’t listen to any of them.

Not a one.

Follow the creative path because it’s who you are.

You’ve always known it. Even when you weren’t expressing it, when it was locked down deep inside, you’ve always known you had a creative heart.

You don’t have to make money for it to be worthwhile.

You don’t have to be deemed ‘talented’ in order to be worthy.

You don’t have to prove, justify, explain or defend.

You just have to do it.

I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m saying it will be worth it.

I’m saying it’s your birthright. I’m saying it’s for you.

Be yourself. Love your life. Create your art.

I, for one, believe in you.

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