"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." Joseph Chilton Pearce
When he was three, Nick asked a question: "Which way is right?" His innocent question goes beyond merely directional importance and strikes at the very heart of our choices in life, doesn't it? It certainly struck me and George that way.
Which way is right? I'm not sure how it got started, but early in my life, I dreaded the possibility that I might be wrong. This developed into a full-fledged phobia as I learned to define my worth as a human by my grades. If I made a 100 on a test, I was a good person. If I made a 99, I was careless, inadequate, hopelessly stupid. This thinking lead me, at the age of 16, to feel like a complete failure in life and to have thoughts that I'd be better off dead.
How ironic that in seeking to be right I was so terrifyingly wrong.
Why do we put ourselves through these sorts of judgments? Often, we're much harder on ourselves than we are on others. I never thought my friends who made 99s or 89s or 79s or 59s were stupid or bad. I loved them and thought only good of them. But for me, lurking always in the spidery recesses of my mind, was the thought that horrible things would happen if I weren't perfectly right.
There were lots of reasons for this, I suppose, but I'm more interested in solutions. How did I learn that being wrong wasn't the end of the world? How did I make peace with imperfection and lose my fear of it?
Well, aside from a helpful psychologist and some time spent being loved and loving, I cultivated my creativity. It all started with making a baby. I made this little person who coos and giggles and squirms and startles and sucks and cries and poops. That miracle lead me to quit work and stay home full time, one of the scariest and bravest things I think I've ever done.
Being a stay-at-home mom gave me time in my home, and thus made me think about how it was decorated, what was hanging on the walls, what would make it more appealing. It gave me a chance to try flower arranging (not for me), making curtains (also not for me), and papercrafts (definitely ME!). When I discovered papercrafts, I realized that my life-long obsession with office supplies, pens, and paper had a whole creative side that I'd never considered. The genie was out of the bottle, and I haven't looked back.
Still, it took time to get over my fear of being wrong. It's rather startling how persistent I was toward a goal I didn't know I had. I just wanted to make things I liked. I copied others' work, studied magazines and books, spent hours just making stuff. At some point, it stopped being work and started being joyful play. I stopped worrying so much about getting something right and let my creativity loose.
And that's when I understood why God created the universe: because it was good.
Since my epiphany, I'm more conscious of others' brave and creative endeavors and am in awe. George's creativity with food amazes me. I'm too afraid of ruining meat and have never been adventurous in the kitchen, yet he creates original works of art each weekend. My sister's creativity with photography also amazes me. My mom turns everything she touches to art. My mother-in-law makes art with fabric in quilting and applique. My friend Liz, a graphic design artist, was my original inspiration in papercrafts, and in trying to be like her, I found myself.
How do you get your creator's high? What do you do that fills you with that wonderful joy of not fearing to be wrong? Is it fashion? Home decorating? Gardening? Writing? Whittling? Music? Motherhood?
Put another way, what brave new thing would you do if you weren't afraid to be wrong?