The first cave artist was most likely bludgeoned with a big stick for not contributing.
Before we go too far down this road, remember your curse is a luxurious one.
And So it Begins
It’s not your fault, you know.
It’s not your fault you started down this path. Odds are you were probably making up stories before you could talk. You never went anywhere without your trusty crayon.
And instead of buying your mother a card for her birthday, you decided it was a better idea to draw a masterpiece with crayons on the wall she’d just painted. (This story is purely hypothetical and not at all exactly what happened to me when I was four years old).
The truth is, you didn’t choose the creative life. Admit it, there have been days when you wish you could just push the pixels aside, pass the pencil to someone else and do something worthwhile, like maybe construction or sales.
But you were not born for sales. You were not born for the assembly line or a cubicle or regular working hours. You probably weren’t even born for a normal sleep schedule.
As you progressed through your adolescence, you hung on to one core truth, one small but crucial aspect of your being which separates you.
You will always be a child.
In the back of your mind lives the young girl who used to dress up her dolls, the same one who built daisy crowns on the soccer field instead of tending to the goal. (Sports are temporary. Plant-based accessories last forever).
You reject button-pusher mentality. You combine ideas from the universe and create a new big, beautiful Frankenstein. You upset the status quo.
Because, after all, that’s what a child does.
He displays absurd amounts of energy before crashing in a heap of disappointment and tired and cranky. He plays so aggressively you think he will explode. He learns where all the lines are (mostly so he can know when to cross them). He is violently curious, peering under every nook and cranny left unexplored.
He presents his discovery to the world, and even though they may have already seen it, they now look with a new light. Because adults forget the joy of ordinary things.
Children do not.
Give up on growing up.
It’s not for you.
What’s your story?
In 10th grade, when I was still good-looking, but not quite as good looking as I am now, we were given the assignment to write a poem for English class.
Most people jotted down the typical A/B rhyming scheme.
Some people really gamed the system and wrote haikus. (17 glorious syllables, almost zero effort).
Do you know what I wrote?
I wrote a freaking sonnet. 14 lines, each exactly 10 syllables. Every 2 lines rhymed. Apparently I had a lot of time on my hands back then.
But after I turned it in, everything changed.
Not only did the teacher enjoy the piece, he stood up the next day and read it in front of everyone. The room laughed at certain passages and Mr. Bone glowed at me, appreciating the “extra effort.”
(It’s funny. When you’re doing what you love, “extra effort” doesn’t feel “extra at all.)
I remember the flutter in my stomach when he read my name.
I remember putting my head down, trying to pretend like I wasn’t loving the attention.
I remember the pats on the back from my friends.
What I remember most happened afterwards.
The class dismissed, and between the pile of bodies flocking toward the door, the teacher pulled me aside between the backpacks, looked me in the eye and said:
“Your father was a great writer as well.”
My gut dropped to the floor and my heart rocketed into the clouds. It was over. From that point, I could never not be creative.
That was my defining moment. I’m betting you have one too.
I often wonder if engineers go through something similar. Was there a moment when their whole future exploded with options because of an equation they solved? Or teachers? Were they the ones who coached people through ACTs not because they had to but because they felt a calling?
What about people who hate their jobs? Did nobody ever tell them they were special? Did nobody ever tell them they see the world in a way nobody else does? Instead of applause, were all their ideas met with mockery?
I don’t know much about the world, but I do know this:
You were meant for something.
Somewhere on this green earth is a not a job, but a calling which works for your exact cocktail of experiences, passion, and ability.
We need you to find it.
Todd here — If you liked this, you’re really going to like this book.
The Creative’s Curse is now LIVE. Click right here to get it.