Why we need to reshape the concept of creativity and stop limiting ourselves

Have you ever heard someone say ‘Oh, I wish I was creative!’ with such longing and disdain that it sounds like they’re missing a limb? Maybe you’ve declared it yourself once or twice to your artsy friends with the righteous belief that they own some innate genius of creativity that you can by no means attain? As the designated ‘artsy friend’ of my circle, I’ve come to realise that what my friends define as creative, however, is nothing more than a set of skills that I’ve continuously worked on throughout my life. I believe that the reason so many people think they aren’t creative is their own misconception of what creativity really is – not a skill, but a trait – and one that is not reserved for the arts or defined by them.

Creativity is the moving force that stands behind innovation, science, technology and evolution, but we often tend to forget or overlook this. The preconceived notions of creativity limit us, but worse than that, they also separate us.

“The STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) industries and the creative industries have long been perceived as opposites, but in reality they are no more than two sides of the same coin”

I decided to look up the word ‘creativity’ in the dictionary of my computer and compare it to the definition of a synonymous to it word – ‘invent’ as an experiment in popular perceptions. Here’s what I found out:

  • creative |kriːˈeɪtɪv|

adjective

relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something: change unleashes people’s creative energy | creative writing.
• having good imagination or original ideas: a creative team of designers.

  • invent |ɪnˈvɛnt|

verb [ with obj.]

create or design (something that has not existed before); be the originator of: he invented an improved form of the steam engine.

The underlined sentences show that even in something as simple as a dictionary definition, creativity is attributed to designers and writers and inventions are attributed to science. The problem here is not the nuancing of word meanings in the English language, it’s the vivid distinction between being creative and being inventive. The STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) industries and the creative industries have long been perceived as opposites, but in reality they are no more than two sides of the same coin. In their core, they both rely on combining complex skills and knowledge with originality in order to bring something new into existence, so why is there such a contrast between the two?

Screenshot 2017-05-08 21.22.15

Overall mentions of the word ‘create’ in Google Books from 1800 to 2008

Since the beginning of the 20th century the importance of creativity has been on the rise. It is now a characteristic that employers from both the creative and the non-creative industries use to describe their ideal candidate and this can be very intimidating to those, who believe creativity isn’t a part of who they are.
As this post comes to an end, I implore you to understand that creativity is ambiguous and that it isn’t exclusive. Patents and paintings are both inventions, which stem from original thought, and so are your ideas. The fact that they’re not ideas for a masterpiece doesn’t make them uncreative and in today’s competitive society to dismiss your creativity is to undermine yourself and your efforts.


If you want to learn some more about this topic, you can take a look at the links below:


Cover image by TeroVesalainen on Pixabay, credited under CC0 Public Domain

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