I’ve been searching for something for a very long time.
I’ve scoured the internet. I’ve used google in ways you only know possible from that one time you had to write a research paper that required only scholarly sources. (Side note: I always say scholarly in a 18th century gentleman’s voice…just give it a try, shake your imaginary chin fat when you do it…fun, no?)
Exactly WHAT I’ve been searching for is not always clear. Sometimes it’s happiness, or rather, the reason for my lack-there-of.
Sometimes it’s a cure for:
I’ve googled myself into some of the darkest spots on the web. Places where people share their daily suicidal scale as easily as if it were their Pokemon Go score (Is there scoring involved in that game? Wait, I don’t care).
I’ve also been to the happiest places on the internet, where people encourage strangers to keep going, that it’ll get better, that once they stopped taking medication x and y and got on medication z, things were FINALLY good…mostly...even though they gained 25 pounds. Okay...
I’ve read all about attention deficit disorder, bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, epilepsy, autism, and sociopathic personality disorder…just to name a few.
I’ve even tried a different approach, google for dummies style, where I just type in:
“What is wrong with me?”
like Google is just going to compile all of the things it [undoubtably] knows about me into one nice, little, digestible PDF.
I’m sorry to report, it doesn’t [yet] work that way.
Because what I’m looking for is what I already know to be true. It’s not something you can diagnose, but it’s arguably as real as living with any other incurable disease.
I am Creative.
Sure, I may fall into one or more of any of the disorders previously listed, but the underlying reason is the Creative.
Just so we're clear: I’m not special. I’m not the first. I’m not the last. And I believe e.ver.y.one. has creativity in their veins. But, for us who are Clinically Creative, life will always be a little bit harder to cope with.
You see, when you are clinically creative, nothing seems to make you fully...happy, even when you are. You notice patterns in everyday life and revel in how creativity worked to solve so many of lives problems...yet you also see that the world is STILL so full of problems.
You feel compelled to use your creative energy to fix IT, ALL of IT, whatever today’s IT is; IT should be—could be—will be…better.
As a creative, you understand that ANYTHING - IS - POSSIBLE. That’s why you want to bang your head against a wall when it’s 2016 and the DMV, Cancer, and the Two-Party Political System are still alive and well—it just doesn’t make sense.
[Full disclosure: this was originally written in a different planet than we all live in, now, here, in 2017. Y'all elected the bad man, and that's why we haven't been speaking very much but I forgive you. So help me God.]
A Day in The Life
When you’re clinically creative, you often feel as if the rest of the world is asleep at the wheel while you’re agonizingly awake. People, organizations, and systems that resist challenge and change easily frustrate you, because you think so differently. This causes social problems for you. This makes you a risk.
This makes you…original...which is what you fought so hard to be, but oh how ignorance doth seem more blissful halfway into your rant about the potential of biodegradable catheters and the world’s water supply. OMG. Sorry, were you, like, trying to eat?
As a creative, you continue to pull back the curtain on the world to study how it works. This can be as awe-inspiring as it is daunting. It makes you want to drop everything and dedicate your life to making it better, and in turn that makes you want to take a nap...possibly forever. Don’t believe me, ask the dead.
You know you can’t do it alone, you know it can’t even be done…not in one lifetime, not in many. That’s why so many big hairy problems still exist.
You know that in order to ever gain even small moments of satisfaction, you HAVE to work to solve those big hairy problems whether that’s freeing people from slavery or their desks.
You, as a creative, have to be the one that challenges the status quo, holds an unpopular opinion, and gets written off as a Steve-Jobs wannabe. And very often, it’s not fun.
Because this is a life sentence.
You wanna understand #DesignThinking? Get inside my head at 2am, because this shit never sleeps.
This is my God given talent, so much so that I can’t separate my identity from it anymore than I can change my eye color. Does that make me the best at what I do? No. If anything, it makes it harder.
I often wish that I could just give clients what they ask for, or just make the thing look pretty, make it
But you see, those actions are soul crushing for me, because I know design has more to offer.
So, what does someone who is Clinically Creative need? I think I’ll save the bulk of that post for another day. Certainly there is no cure, nor do I ever want to find one.
For now, I’ll leave you with this:
It’s often said people with diseases feel very isolated, because they feel they are a burden. That’s how this feels.
I’ve dealt with shame that I couldn’t fit into the molds intended for me. That life, even as a professional creative person (how privileged I am-I KNOW) sometimes isn't enough. I feel ungrateful, selfish, and self-loathing. I have hate for myself for needing more from the world. There were times I wanted to stop existing, because it felt like I’d failed everyone, that I’d never be happy because I didn’t know how to play by all these rules that other people made up. And those people...are us.
So I've stopped living by them. Not all of them. Conditioning dies hard.
But if 2017 has taught us anything, we know that this is the end of normal. For me, and I hope for all of us. This is the end of feeling ashamed for doing the work I was called to do. I am actively fighting ignorance, world hunger, global climate change, and the ugliness that lives inside of me and all of us through my craft. No shit.
Creativity has the power to heal both ourselves and others.
If you’re fighting a battle inside your mind, I recommend you design yourself a new path straight away. Every inch of it. Custom-tailored to whatever feeds that monstrous soul. All the way...to happiness. And, when you can, try to help others to do the same.
[Full disclosure round 2: I re wrote the end of this more times than I can remember. Perfectionism. Resistance.]
Speaking of those scholarly sources.
Counseling With Gifted and Talented Student
Gifted Child Quarterly September 1, 1977 21: 305-321