'An Outlet For Emotions Stockpiled' - On creativity and allowing yourself to suck

by - Tuesday, May 17, 2016



I've always been a creative person. A cataloguer, a daydreamer, a person with an overactive imagination. Despite being alright at the maths and science stuff at school, my heart was always in self-expression - in people, in words, in art and drawings and song. I was an obsessive scrapbooker, a collector of favourite lyrics and band stickers and tumblr blogs. Everything I do and am now is because of this desire to create- the paper dolls I drew and laminated in the latest clumsily drawn fashions, the handmade Top Trumps where I tried to capture every band member ever (yes really), the magazines born out of 'wet playtimes' at school.

Unfortunately for me, I'm also a raging pragmatist. I've never quite had the faith in myself to genuinely believe in my artistic abilities to a level when I can actually truly see them through. My vision was always greater than what I could put to paper. Artistic prowess was always something that happened to somebody else. Now, as an adult, it's more about finding the time and the inclination - It can be pretty hard to settle down to that drawing after a hard day of work, or capture that song idea because there's no place to write it down and you can't stand the embarrassment of voice recording it on your commute.

As a highly logical thinker, I'm very used to thinking in projects and concepts. It's why I'm so in love with my job - I understand the value of a brand and it's offshoots. But outside of work, what about Brand Jenessa? I adore what I do for a living and wouldn't swap it for the world, but there are simply so many things that make me tick in my spare time  - in writing, music, fashion, pop culture - that it can sometimes be very difficult to feel entirely creatively fulfilled by one thing. I truly believe that a time where people have one solitary profession is over and I'm trying to embrace that part of my brain which flits around so many avenues of self expression - in the space of a week I can go from wanting to be a fashion designer to wanting to start a band in my spare time. I like to think I've settled somewhere in the middle with this blog, but some days this just doesn't feel like enough of a outlet for all the idea that keep me awake at night. I always want to do more, be more, make more. Often, in my side gig as a writer, I feel like I'm spending my time celebrating the success of others rather than trying to make a success of myself.

It's no secret that I am obsessive about live music. I thought for years and years that I would make my entire living from the music industry, and while I am in no way bitter than things didn't work out that way, it does mean that I occasionally miss being part of that world that I flirted with whilst at University. It comes up every now and then - when I discover a truly wonderful record, watch an amazing gig, or more often than not, when I'm at a festival. Whenever I watch a great band play, I wonder to myself - why couldn't that be me? Not in an 'I want to be famous way', more just plain curiosity - what could I be capable of if I had actually taken the time to learn to play an instrument as a kid, if I had been less embarrassed to share the contents of my secret bedroom 'songwriting' sessions?

This weekend I was tidying out some boxes and found those old notebooks. I hadn't exactly forgotten they were there, more that other things had taken priority and they didn't seem quite so important anymore. Opening them up for the first time in years and reading a few passages, I realised that they were very important indeed. The writing is childish, hopelessly cringey and lovestruck over god knows who, but it is a capsule of a time and a place I never want to forget - where it genuinely felt like anything was possible. That makes it sound like I don't feel that way anymore - I really do. My life has moved in a completely different direction and I can honestly say that I am happier now than I ever thought I would be at 23. That aside, it seems a horrible waste not to have used that teenage enthusiasm - not to have seen it come to anything other than a little secret I kept tucked in my bedside table. I've never longed to be famous or celebrated any more than the averagely narcissistic person we all have hidden deep inside ourselves, but there is still a huge part of me that loves the feeling of holding something in my hands and say 'I made that'.

What this longwinded ramble all comes down to, I think, is courage. It is exceedingly rare to be good at something immediately, and to be great at anything you have to be brave enough to suck at it. You have to have that strength of conviction to say enough to say 'I've written this thing that I might cringe about in a week, but right now I think it's great' and accept that people might not get it, think it's shit, try to overanalyse your words, or assume that you have delusions of grandeur. Sometimes it's not about that - it's just about trying to make a small mark on the world that says 'I am creative.' An outlet for emotions stockpiled, to borrow a lyric from one of my favourite songs. Sometimes it's about saying 'I love everything I do but I just need that extra little outlet and I need you not to think I'm weird for giving it a go'. Or rather scratch that last part, and just do it anyway for fun, regardless of what people think. I like to think that's what the 12-18 year old Jenessa who wrote all these unused lyrics would have wanted, and I imagine she'd be even more thankful that I have this platform to articulate myself and just hit 'publish'.

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