Nobody exists for one reason; nobody is born for a sole purpose, nor are we here for very long. Our lifetime is just one moment of the world’s history and it passes quickly. We have no way of accurately knowing what happens after this brief life, but we can try to control what happens with the amount of time we have here. Controlling how we want to spend our time is what makes us feel safe and powerful in a world where we came stumbling in blind and vulnerable. We don’t already know how to walk, speak, or even eat. We have to learn everything. It is the same way with being creative. We have to learn how to make things. It isn’t like breathing. It’s not something you automatically do from the moment you’re born till the day you die. You have to make a conscious decision to create. Within every lifespan, humans possess potential in each and every waking moment to either destroy, do nothing, or create, and it’s all by choice. If you choose destruction then there’s no one in who can really stop you, but there are consequences for your actions when you demolish the work of others; and, vice versa, if you choose, really choose, to create nobody but you can stop you from making something. Unless you’re destroying others’ work or hurting people somehow then creating is never bad. Sadly though, many people are too lazy to create, or even to destroy; they are content to sit stagnantly while their limited life passes by them. This paper is about my experience in life and my urges to persuade you to create. If you do not want to read it, then there is no way I can force you to; likewise, I cannot force you create, only encourage and hope that you listen. Should you choose to continue reading I will present you with my story and describe how being creative has impacted my life.
I was born a little past 12:00 am a cold December morning on the 17th in the year of 2000. I know when I was born, but I have no knowledge of when it will end or how. If I so choose I could even stop it right now, then I wouldn’t have to write this paper, or get out of bed every day, or have to deal with the daily challenges ahead of me; but there’s one thing I constantly think about, “What are the possibilities ahead if I choose to live another day? What new things can I create tomorrow?” This mindset has helped me through many hard points in my life. Those who have met me in real life know that one thing about I almost never stop drawing and I often seem to be daydreaming. Sure, I have more important things to do and I often appear to be doing nothing while I have my head in the clouds, but this is not true. My body may be sitting still, but my mind is racing through the universe at warp speed. With each thought I’m creating new adventures, characters and realities. When it looks like I’m absentmindedly doodling I am really becoming more powerful with every stroke of my pencil; maybe not physically, but mentally.
With every imaginary land my thoughts explore I have entered someplace amazing and new. My math teacher bombards my head with questions about numbers, shapes and variables, but I’m not really there sitting in my seat. Instead of reasoning out proofs for Geometry I’ve just saved an entire species from the brink of extinction. I cannot wait to get home and document my grand adventure. There, as the words pour like an endless streams from my hands through the keyboard and into the memory banks of my computer the story comes alive once more. I know that while my fingers dance across the worn, smooth, black, surface of each key to place these words onto paper, that someone else, should I choose to let them in, can also visit my world. I AM doing something while my eyes stare vacantly or my fingers draw skeletons in the margins of my paper during Biology. Even by writing this assignment I’ve, hopefully, intrigued you enough to keep reading, and hopefully I’ve captured your attention and opened your mind to what a great power being creating is.
There is a harsh reality to the world. In the fifteen years of my adolescent life I’ve witnessed this harshness time and time again. Parents, friends, and teachers remind us of reality all of the time. I’m always being told to, “Pay attention” or “clean my room” or “to follow the rules”. Everywhere I go someone is telling me how to spend my time. It’s like everyone is a bandit or a thief, constantly taking power from you by forcing you to spend precious creative time doing something else. I’ve done it too. We all have, whether we meant to or not. Every time someone creates something, taking time out of their ever-diminishing life span, and shows it to someone else, that person has the power to validate and encourage them and the endless possibilities of what they do next, or the person being shown can kill off the creativity by inadvertently suggesting changes, telling someone that their work isn’t good or reprimanding them for not paying attention to reality. I realize that life comes with responsibilities, but I want to try to encourage others. Maybe what I say will be the magic words to encourage them for the rest of their life; maybe my feedback will encourage them to create something that could change the world, or maybe I’ll just make them feel better about themselves. Nothing is ever lost by saying a few words of encouragement, but saying something negative can destroy part of someone’s confidence.
The most common place I’ve found discouragement from creativity is at school. On the one hand we have adults always telling students to be themselves, to create and to do what’s right, even if everyone else disagrees. On the other hand, when you show creativity, but it isn’t at the right time, or if you question what is taught then those same adults who encourage you to be yourself reprimand you for not sitting quietly like everyone else. I understand that the system needs to cycle as many students as possible through schools with the highest test scores possible in order to be considered “successful” by the state officials. I do not think teachers are evil, or even the school board or other people in the education system. I just think that the system itself is flawed. Many teachers encourage free thinking, but their hands are tied by rules. It must be hard, as a teacher, to see kids go to school with life in their eyes and they see it slowly get drained out of students as they get older. It’s haunting, but there’s nothing they can do about it. I truly believe that people became teachers with the hopes of trying to inspire and to teach kids, but even teachers seem to forget about being inspiring after trying to have students pass tests and after being told what they can and cannot teach. What they were passionate about erodes because they, themselves are robbed of the freedom to create.
Last year I endured severe emotional trauma and stress. I had a change of school that resulted in being in a completely different type of system, as well as being around new students. As a result of these changes, within the first few months of school I dropped 20 pounds, developed severe depression, and I started having tremors and stuttering. For months I had no idea where I was going. I felt I had been knocked off my feet and that I would never fit in at my new school. I felt like everyone there was part of a club that I’d never belong to. I have felt like this before because of my Autism, but over the years I had found ways to cope and at my old school I was able to fit in. But I had graduated from that school and there was no going back. Now, all I wanted to do was sleep. Even on weekends I didn’t want to get out of bed. The one thing that kept me sane was that I kept journals and would write or draw in them, describing the misty, pale, mornings of the suburbs where I live. I’d talk about how the sky look like an unfinished drawing at the line of pines far off in the distance. I would describe how the trees looked like they were stretching to the sky, like a small child yearning to be picked up. I’d write about the things that happened, and what I felt, never daring to show a single word to anyone but myself. Cascades of graphite collided against parchment, forming lines and shapes until I had made an image recognizable, drawing my favorite characters to life; the precious dreams from my subconscious, where I fondly remembered murky transitions from one scene to the next, as I stumbled around doing as I please. Dreams with pitch black skies pierced by bright, neon, lights; where skies faded to juice-like colored soft, pink, blankness from the bright city lights, and whatever I could see or think of. These recollections and writing about them were my way to escape.
Then, one early June morning, I woke up and didn’t have to get dressed anymore for school. I didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything. I could just relax and let my mind wander. By relaxing, I was able to sort my mind out and begin to feel like me again. Looking back, sometimes I feel guilty, and that I may have wasted my summer, but then I realize that it is not my mind telling me to feel guilty, but the rules of other people’s reality that are causing the guilt. Those three, short, months off from the outside pressure and demands made all the difference in my outlook on life. I indulged myself by spending hours in front of my computer screen, gliding my pen across the silky surface of my tablet in Sai Paint, making drawing, after drawing, after drawing. I spent hours posting short, fictional, stories about what I thought might happen to the characters after my favorite game with them had ended. I extended its lessons and continued the beauty of imaginary worlds even further, for prolonged enjoyment of my blog’s gratuitous followers. I was happy knowing that my readers waited eagerly for the next word, next chapter and knowing that they appreciated what I had to offer. My favorite activity of all was reclining on my comfortable mattress making up short stories, or adding on to longer ones, in my head, like a movie, until my mind drifted off into dream stasis. So many hours and days slipped away as I frolicked about in an imaginary world entirely fabricated by my subconscious. By being creative I felt rejuvenated. The more I gave, the more I got back.
Slowly, but surely, I started to feel better. I stopped feeling hopeless and like I was out of control with my life. I began to get in the right mind; also, by being true to myself, I made many online, and real life friends. I took my potential and, in an effort to vent frustration and emotional stress, I created something new that didn’t exist before. Sure, I’ll move on, and in a few years I will be done with school and with this chapter of my life, but the worlds I create now might just change another person’s life for the better. Being creative allowed me to heal better than any of the therapy or medication did. My advice to everyone is to take time to find a “way to create” that you’re passionate about. Don’t worry if it is good, but make sure you enjoy doing it. You don’t have to share what you make, but keep making. Use fond memories and experiences and express them in a way that will change someone. Encourage others. I’ve heard people say “ It’s kill or be killed,” in this world, but don’t kill and don’t be killed. This applies to people’s dreams and creativity too. You don’t have to kill or discourage others from succeeding in order to be successful yourself. Life is not a contest, but it is brief. If you can, then share your creations, even if you worry about what others will say. You may think that I’m brave and wise for writing all of this, but the truth is, even as I wrote these words, which sound like they are full of confidence and grace, my hands were clumsily shaking at the thought of someone reading them. But that’s okay; I don’t have to be perfect with what I’m doing, as long as I keep doing it. Never regret creating, even if it seems silly and you’re self-conscious. You can hide it from others and keep it for yourself. Expressing yourself is empowering and it is fun to go back later and rework old ideas into new ones or just look at where you were and compare it to where you are now. The point is, don’t stop. Create!