When I was a kid, my mom gave me a lot of creative freedom. Both my mom and my grandma are artists, so I started drawing and painting at an early age. Pretty soon I was painting and drawing on other things, too, like the walls. I don’t remember her ever getting upset with me, though. She was always proud of me. I didn’t realize this was such an unusual thing until I began to see how other parents reacted to the same situations. Then I realized I had it good!
One time I was in school and the teacher handed out a bunch of pages from a coloring book for everyone, along with boxes of crayons. Apparently, I refused to color with everyone else. The teacher was frustrated with me and called my house. When my mom asked me why I wouldn’t color, I said, “somebody else already drew on the paper, mom!” I was used to being given a blank page.
Another time, my best friend and I were drawing pictures with magic markers, and we got bored and decided it would be more fun to draw on ourselves. We spent a good hour drawing pictures all over our arms, our chest, our faces, our legs, and our feet. We were so proud of our work. I still remember the reaction when her mom saw us. She was furious! She sent me home and immediately made my friend take a bath. I went home and my mom was delighted. “Oh, look how creative you two are!” The contrast between parenting methods has stuck with me to this day.
Now that I’m an adult, I still see remnants of both worlds in everything; the creative freedom that I was always given is definitely not the norm. It seems that not just parents, but most environments – work, school, and home – have strict rules that must be upheld and certain ways that things must be done. It is only more recently that creativity has started to become more prized than ever before. Work environments like Google have been born and people are realizing that having fun doesn’t hinder our performance; it actually improves it!
What old, outdated rules are you still following? Where could you break out of the box and allow yourself to let loose a little? Maybe we can’t always change our work environments, but we all have varying degrees of control over our personal life. The negative voices in our heads that put us down and say, “you can’t do that,” are the very barriers that keep us from making creative breakthroughs!
When you give yourself permission to color outside the lines and paint in places you’re not “supposed” to, you set your creative self free. Think about how you can let loose and allow yourself to express your creativity without fear of repercussion or criticism. Give yourself a chance. Be a little kid again, and let yourself be free to just play.