Creativity has many definitions and meanings. For me, it is something that comes from the heart and soul, it’s about being free.
Brené Brown says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
This viewpoint resonates for me for many reasons: people with dementia and others we support are often vulnerable; care-workers often draw upon their own vulnerability and creativity whilst caring for others and responding to sometimes difficult situations. I believe, creativity requires freedom and an element of risk.
As I write this, I think back to thirty-two years ago today – I was then in my final year at drama school with hopes of becoming an actor.
We would often have improvisation classes – a time when we would have to delve into the deepest reaches of our heart and soul – thereby making ourselves vulnerable.
According to Wikipedia: “Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scientific theory, a musical composition, or a joke) or a physical object (such as an invention, a printed literary work, or a painting).”
However, who judges if something is new and valuable? Is it like beauty – in ‘the eye of the beholder’?
Improvisation classes were torturous for me and many of my classmates, as the teacher at the front of the class would always sit at the front watching us with a grin on his face. From my perspective, he was judging what I created – and therefore me!
Consequently, I often felt paralysed by fear of being judged as either failing or succeeding. This corroded by confidence and self-esteem – eventually, I decided that acting was not the profession for me.
In addition to acting, the physical act of creativity can involve many things: writing a poem or novel, painting or drawing, photography, making music, telling a joke, inventing something, gardening, providing a potential solution to an issue or problem in the workplace – the list goes on.
Personally, I think it is about expressing an inner thought or feeling.
In my many years of delivering training in health and social care, dementia care and working with literally hundreds of charities, I’ve often heard the words “I’m no good at being creative.”
Why is this? I watch my 18-month-old great-niece Isla, as she has no fears about being creative – be it drawing squiggles on a piece of paper or using the building blocks we bought her for Christmas to create something new.
However, throughout our childhood and adulthood, others tend to judge our creativity and we internalise this.
I hate drawing and painting because my art teachers often said my ‘creations’ weren’t good enough. If someone asks me to draw something today, I recoil into myself with the thought ‘I can’t do that.’
I think this applies to many of us. All of us can relate to a situation where from our heart and soul we have risked being creative and our idea, our poem, our joke has been dismissed as ‘impractical,’ ‘silly’ or even ‘stupid.’
I was recently reading about a well-known comedian – I was struck by the fact that they, like many of their profession, were deeply insecure and self-critical – despite the confident persona.
I have the greatest admiration for stand-up comics, for every time they stand in front of an audience, they make themselves vulnerable and put themselves up for judgement. This involves huge amounts of resilience – every time a joke falls flat, it must feel like ‘death by a thousand cuts’ as one comedy-writing friend described it to me.
In part two next week, we will explore what the above means to dementia care and supporting others.