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Finding my Creative Confidence

Throughout my childhood and my early adult life, I didn’t think I was creative. Anything having to do with widely accepted forms of creativity like art, dance and music felt foreign to me.

I have never been artistic and things like drawing, painting and sewing never came easy and honestly didn’t really interest me.

One of my earliest memories of creating art was in a summer art camp.  I was happily splatter painting when the instructor came over and reprimanded me for it, telling me it wasn’t “real art” and I was “too old for splatter paint.” Then there was the time in girl scouts that a simple sewing project took me three meetings to complete when everyone else was done in one. I was equal parts ashamed and totally disinterested.

I desperately wanted to be a dancer or a figure skater but choreography (and coordination) just isn’t something that I seem to pick up on naturally. I gave up on my dance career when after two years of taking jazz from the same instructor, she called me “you in the back” when we were preparing for a recital. I guess my dancing skills were that memorable. That didn’t stop me from putting on full-scale dance productions in my grandmother’s living room for many years to come.

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(Can you spot me? Last one on the right.)

I did make a go out of competitive cheerleading and really enjoyed it but I was always one of the last to pick up the eight counts and we won’t even talk about how many times I busted my face during tumbling passes.

Fortunately, I discovered running my freshman year of college and it became an amazing physical fitness outlet for that required just me, a pair of shoes and the road and no special creative skills or coordination. I am so grateful for what running became to me. A way to find and believe in my strength in a way I never had before.

Fast forward to early adulthood and I was face-to-face with my perceived lack of creativity once again. I worked for advertising agencies for nearly five years where I was surrounded by insanely creative minds. I worked in account management so my job was all client communication, timelines and project plans. I left the creativity for the “creatives.” That’s literally what they’re called in advertising.

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(Spiced Chicken. One of my favorite chicken recipes that I first discovered in 2009.)

But this is also where things started to change. After a few years, my office became a revolving door for cooking advice. I can’t tell you how many times I answered the question, “what should I make for dinner tonight?” and, “do you have a good recipe for…?” Cooking and baking came so easy to me that on some level it was hard to understand why they were asking me all of these questions.

And then I began to see it, I was creative too. But in a different way. I am creative in the way that I understand food and how I put it together. From combining and balancing flavors to texture to ratios to the way things look on the plate, I just get it. I’m not a professional chef by any means but cooking is definitely my creative outlet. It excites me to get in the kitchen and either try new recipes or totally wing it and create my own. Dreaming up a new dish in my head and making it come to life on the plate is exhilarating for me.

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(Lady Strawberry Cake. I can’t tell you how many of my friends made this one! A favorite for sure.)

This is when I started my first blog, Bakin’ and Eggs. I was blown away by how many of my friends and co-workers regularly tried my recipes and kept coming back to them. In turn, blogging became another form of creativity for me. I have always enjoyed writing and journaling and excelled in reading, language and writing (don’t even get me started on math…I changed my major in college because I couldn’t get through pre-cal!). Practicing writing every single day through blogging reconnected me to my love for writing and has become such a great outlet for me.

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Everything came full circle for me in regards to creativity when I began teaching group fitness and yoga. While I may not have a natural talent for choreography and dance, I do understand body mechanics and what feels good in the body. It’s easy for me to put together workouts or design yoga sequences. It just makes sense to me.

I believe that as adults it is critically important to be creative. Having a sense of play and imagination in your life is extremely powerful in keeping yourself inspired and mind stimulated. If you’re like me and not creative in the traditional ways that society tells us that people are creative…art, music, dance (oh we didn’t talk even about music…I quit band after a disastrous attempt to learn to play the flutophone made it clear that I was not going to be the next Mariah Carey), don’t label yourself as “not creative.”

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Instead, look at the things that come easy to you. What are you always getting asked advice about? Maybe you’re creative through scrapbooking or your crazy awesome organizational skills or gardening or decorating elaborate cakes or the ability to put together killer outfits or through your entrepreneurial spirit and dreaming up killer business plans. There’s not set in stone definition of what creativity is.

So if you’re like me and you were made to believe when you were a child that you weren’t creative, let that go. We’re all creatively DIFFERENT but I firmly believe we’re ALL creative. If you don’t believe it yourself, ask your friends how they see you as creative. I’m telling you…sometimes your creativity comes so easy to you that you don’t even see it!

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Need more fuel for the fire? I listened to Creative Confidence on Audible a few months ago and this book is great for busting the myth that only certain people are creative types and gives you advice on how to bring more creativity into your day-to-day life.

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I also just listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic. It’s all about living a creative life and also a wonderful read.

Tell me more about your creativity. What are your creative outlets? What comes easy to you? What doesn’t? What have you learned about being creative throughout your life?


{ 22 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Julie November 12, 2015, 10:47 am

    This is a really great post! I’m an accountant. (We’re certainly not known for our “creativity”!) 😉 I create spreadsheets for things most people wouldn’t even dream of… For example, I have a spreadsheet for meal planning. I have a summary tab w/ all of our favorite meals listed & dates next to each item so I don’t repeat them too frequently & forget about other dishes. In the same spreadsheet, I have a tab for each meal that lists the ingredients needed & links to the original recipe so I can quickly put a grocery list together & run to the store over my lunch hour.

    • 2
      Jen DeCurtins November 12, 2015, 5:37 pm

      That’s awesome! I try to minimize my trips to the grocery store and that would be so helpful!

  • 3
    Lauren November 12, 2015, 10:54 am

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve spent my entire life thinking I wasn’t creative, and, although I love Elizabeth Gilbert, haven’t purchased Big Magic because I don’t feel like I “create” anything. But, this has me thinking about what I do create and that maybe it’s just different than your typical definition. Here’s to discovering my creativity!

    • 4
      Jen DeCurtins November 12, 2015, 11:05 am

      Hey Lauren –

      I actually just listened to that book during my long runs this training cycle! I don’t know how I blanked on that. You should TOTALLY read it…so good! I am going to edit the post to include it.

  • 5
    Ashley @ A Lady Goes West November 12, 2015, 11:06 am

    Hi Jen! First of all, I didn’t know you had a blog before this one. And I definitely agree that you show some beautiful food here, which you’ve created (your Dad too!). I love this message about finding your creativity, because it doesn’t just have to be art, music or dance. In fact, fitness and blogging require quite a bit of new ideas and passion, so those are two places where I think creativity is absolutely at work! Keep it up! 🙂

    • 6
      Jen DeCurtins November 12, 2015, 5:40 pm

      Thank you!!

  • 7
    Sara @ Oats & Rows November 12, 2015, 11:12 am

    This post totally speaks to me and I can completely relate to you. Growing up, I never played an instrument, wasn’t artistic although I enjoyed crafts, and sure as hell never danced ha! 😉 Body mechanics is something that I’ve always understood and was interested in, especially after playing competitive soccer all these years. I think finding a creative outlet, no matter what it is, is healthy for the soul. I find that through cooking and teaching group fitness classes!

    • 8
      Jen DeCurtins November 12, 2015, 5:42 pm

      Ha yes! We can definitely relate to each other! I’m so grateful to be able to do what I love everyday.

  • 9
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine November 12, 2015, 12:02 pm

    O I can relate so much! Cooking is my biggest passion and my creative outlet (wrote an entire post on it!). I feel so good in the kitchen creating everything my mind makes up with no planning, just flow!

    • 10
      Jen DeCurtins November 12, 2015, 5:44 pm

      It’s my favorite way to decompress at the end of the day! There’s something creative yet methodical about it that I love.

  • 11
    Erin November 12, 2015, 1:35 pm

    I really enjoyed this post! I also grew up thinking I wasn’t creative, which I think had a lot to do with being evaluated for the “gifted” program in school. I always had among the best grades in class, but I failed to get into the gifted program three times because the test consisted of two parts, one focused more on intelligence and one on creativity, and I kept failing the creativity one. I was always really into math and science because I didn’t need to be creative – there was always a right answer. Now though in college, I study engineering, which turns out does have a lot to do with creativity. And I’ve learned that being “creative” actually has a lot to do with being observant of and curious about the world around me, as well as not limiting my mind to what seems possible. A lot of “crazy” ideas turn out to be the basis for some really cool things! Anyway, I’ve gotten a little off topic now, but I just wanted to say again that this post was very relatable, and I’m definitely going to look into those books.

    • 12
      Jen DeCurtins November 12, 2015, 5:47 pm

      I completely agree about not limiting yourself to what seems possible or not! Math/science minded people don’t get enough credit for their creativity!

  • 13
    Shannon November 12, 2015, 1:39 pm

    This is great! I think i’ll take it a step further and ASK my best girlfriends their opinion on what my creative strengths are.

  • 14
    Lisa November 12, 2015, 1:53 pm

    Advertising did the exact same thing to me! I never believed I was creative because I worked in account management. That whole industry needs a reboot! Love this sentiment. Everyone is creative in their own way, even if it isn’t traditionally coined as “creative”. Thanks for this.

  • 15
    Cath November 12, 2015, 2:06 pm

    Great post Jen! I got a lot out of this. It’s so good to read that just because I don’t draw or paint, I can still find creativity elsewhere. It can be easy to forget about being creative and just do the day to day work grind. Also, I’ve just had a couple of job applications that went dismally, and it’s helpful to think that maybe the problem isn’t me, maybe the problem is that I’m looking in the wrong place (I sure hope so). Similar to finding creativity in other places, perhaps I’ll find my job skill in other places.
    Thanks for the book recommendations.

    • 16
      Jen DeCurtins November 12, 2015, 5:51 pm

      Thank you and good luck with the job search! I think you can tell if a job is a good fit when you finally find it. I hope things fall into place for you soon.

  • 17
    Rajul | Charlotte Veggie November 12, 2015, 7:01 pm

    This post comes at the perfect moment as I push away self doubt as a new blogger. Thank you. I completely relate on the cooking front 🙂 but you are also good at helping others be creative, myself included. <3

  • 18
    hillary | nutrition nut on the run November 12, 2015, 10:29 pm

    Great post, Miss Jen!!

  • 19
    Marla-Deen November 14, 2015, 8:44 am

    I loved Big Magic! Finding a creative niche is such a great outlet for us all. I also wrote a post on this recently. http://www.marladeenfit.com/2015/10/18/flex-those-creative-muscles-its-never-too-late/

  • 20
    Ali November 24, 2015, 6:36 pm

    Hi Jen,

    I know you posted this awhile go (I am just catching up), but this post really speaks to me. I constantly refer to myself as someone who isn’t creative. This statement definitely limits my potential. I am creative in my own way. I think a lot of it has to do with believing in myself and acknowledging that what I bring to the table is enough. Thanks for another great post. I am constantly inspired by you.
    With love,
    Ali

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