“I’m not very creative.” I cannot possibly count the number of times I have said or thought this statement in my lifetime. When asked on the spot for ideas, I often feel as though I don’t have anything unique enough to bring to the table and thus neglect to share. I’ve been reflecting on the recent article about the confidence gap between men and women, and how this lack of confidence is detrimental to women’s success. This particular quote stood out to me:
“Perfectionism is another confidence killer. Study after study confirms that it is largely a female issue, one that extends through women’s entire lives. We don’t answer questions until we are totally sure of the answer, we don’t submit a report until we’ve edited it ad nauseam, and we don’t sign up for that triathlon unless we know we are faster and fitter than is required.”
I have experienced these perfectionist feelings constantly not only in my career, but my personal life as well, going through countless hobbies, DIY projects, even sports – just because I felt like I wasn’t good enough at them to be successful. I held back on experiences because I wasn’t confident enough in my own abilities.
I’m here to challenge that today. Since embarking on my DIY journey, I’ve used power tools, learned painting techniques, installed door hardware, hung frames, and more. Starting a major creative project at home that doesn’t involve student development, service learning, or anything work-related, has made an incredible impact on my confidence in my work, at home or in the office. As I was contemplating a blog post about this (and an awesome robot puzzle project, which I’ll get to in a second), I stumbled across this article about how being creative outside of work actually makes workers more productive, as well as provides them opportunities to restore and fulfill themselves. Researchers said this, which spoke to me:
“A lot of organizations carve time out where they talk about physical heath and exercise and eating habits, but they can also include in that a discussion of mental health and the importance of recovery and creative activity,” he said.
Physical health and exercise are both important. However, I feel the need to ask: when do we make time to pursue our hobbies outside of fitness, especially if we spend all our spare time working? How does this lack of creative work affect us, if these projects are making us more productive and more relaxed? Shoutout to those writing books or creating art; it’s harder than it looks. It has taken a lot of time and practice (about six months now) for me to develop confidence in my creative abilities, and this blog has been one of the best places for me to share my love for DIY, as well as express my professional opinions. I can have a life outside of work, and it’s making me a better professional, a happier person, and an even better gift-giver. Let’s time travel to the moment I realized how important my creative outlet is to me.
About a week ago, I was shopping for a birthday present for a colleague of mine at Michaels. I recognize that when shopping for a 26-year-old’s birthday gift, a craft store is not normally the first choice, but it’s my go-to for awesome finds. I stumbled across this beauty for $1.20: a robot, alien, and superhero puzzle.
While I picked it up, I thought, “this is awesome – and cheap”, but I put it back on the shelf. After a few minutes of perusing, a creative lightbulb turned on, and I thought about how great this would look in a frame mounted on my friend’s wall. He has a love for superheroes and comics, and I have a love for personalized DIY projects, so this was a win-win. A brief conversation with the custom framing staff taught me that it would be way too expensive and time consuming to wait for the perfect frame. So, I scooped up a shadowbox, some Elmer’s glue, and went home to finish the job.
I was so proud to frame this puzzle and give it as a gift to someone who truly deserved to be the beneficiary of my creative process. The next time I think to myself, “I’m not that creative”, I’m going to think of this puzzle and how robots gave me confidence (aww, I’m such a cheesy nerd).
What are your creative activities outside of work? I’d love to hear about them and how they’ve impacted you as a person or as a professional.