New Year's Resolutions -- Go Where Creativity Blooms
Creativity is often represented in art as a garden, and for good reason. We are all born with unique seeds of the creative inside of us, but without adequate watering, sunshine and, yes, even pruning, it can die where it fell, reducing us, in many ways, to another member of the tired, uninspired masses.
While growing up, many of us were watered by fairly regular rain showers of praise and rainbow kisses, telling us that we could be anything we wanted to be. But somewhere between our late teens and mid-twenties, the generations that raised us to believe we were special decided instead that it would be best for everyone involved if they blew out the candle they lit and put us in our place. Insulting everything from our inability to build a savings account to the way we won't allow others to talk down to us, many of the generation who should have mentored us into adulthood decided that we needed to become more like them and less like us.
Maybe that's just the way of midlife. Youth can become scary and offensive as the new generation that will replace the old rises to maturity. So, out of fear or anger or whatever it is, they try to stamp out that which makes them feel most threatened. Meanwhile, those who embrace us and encourage our uniqueness, and they are out there in abundance waiting to be found, become our heroes. There is a reason why the young flocked to Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election: we hunger to be validated, encouraged and inspired by those who have decades of wisdom behind them.
So as so many millennials return to work on January 2nd, my hope for your new year is that you flock to a place where you are appreciated and acknowledged. To a place where your creativity is given the care and attention it deserves.
That doesn't mean seeking a place where you are always told you are right. That doesn't mean surrounding yourself with yes men. It doesn't mean running away from conflict. It means finding a place where you not only have a seat at the table but that it is offered willingly to you. It means refusing to sit in a room where you are silenced because of your age, gender or opinions. It means having an awareness of your own worth. Reject the idea that being stomped down and forced to fit the mold is "just a part of growing up."
To leave behind a place where your ideas or opinions are unwelcome isn't a show of weakness or entitlement. It's a deep-rooted awareness that you are more than a lump of clay to be molded at the whim of those who have a fancier title than you do. It's an acceptance that you have the most to offer when you are the most alive. And take it from someone who knows, as scary as it is to decide to leave what you know, the minute you walk out those doors for the last time, the blood will rush back through your veins like a wildfire.
Our mid-to-late twenties are the years during which we begin to make our mark, to hone our voice, to decide who we are going to be, and what we are going to give the world, for the next, God willing, 60+ years of living. In the same way that a toddler can repeatedly fall without injury, this is the time when we can fail over and over and over again, rebounding even stronger than before. Failing only becomes more difficult from here on out.
This is the time when we have to find a place to try new things and do them horribly, but with mentors at our side who see our potential and are willing to give us at least one more chance.
Whether that means finding a new job or, if you can't, finding a new hobby as an outlet, your particular brand of creativity is far too valuable to be silenced by those who cannot possibly understand it. Run to a place where the scent of ingenuity flows, and avoid the ones where the insincerity whirls like Fabreeze, used to cover much nastier smells. Strike out on your own if you have to! Just never let someone's bitterness make you bitter or someone else's fear make you afraid.
We have the power to choose who we allow to influence us and shape us.
At times, last year felt a little like trudging through slime. Let's make 2018 a year of hope and respect for self and others, and one in which creativity not only grows but blooms.