As a creative person, I’ve had a slightly different life than my other friends, who have walked a more traditional path. I can’t tell you how many times people have stared at my resume thinking, “That’s interesting,” or called me into a job interview just to see who I was.
But then again, as a creative person, this is just one of the many parts of life we experience. To some people, the way I think is strange; to others, it’s the only way to think.
By others I mean “other creative people.” I guess you could say there’s a tribe of us artists and some folks get us, but others think we’re crazy. And perhaps maybe we are.
1. We do embarrassing things (and usually for free).
When I started stand-up comedy, it wasn’t unusual to spot me outside a comedy club “barking,” or in other words, shouting out and wrangling in strangers to see a comedy show in which I’d get stage time and perform for five minutes for free.
It wasn’t the most fun thing I did in my life, but it had to be done for stage time, and is a comedian rite of passage. To the average Joe Schmoe, this would be absolutely ridiculous, but to a highly creative person, it’s just one of the many things you do to perfect your craft.
Of course, there was the time I did a public service announcement … and “rapped” in it. Yes, rapped, but at least I got paid for doing it and scored entryway into the actor’s union.
2. We have endless ideas.
In my inbox, I’ve got about 90 different pitch ideas. It’s not unusual for me to pause a conversation because I’ve got to write down an idea. It’s not unusual for me to ask my friends for “quotes.”
Highly creative people have these inboxes, folders, journals, and sketch pads full of ideas that we whip out whenever the moment hits us.
3. We occasionally offend people with our work.
Unlike a school teacher, nurse, or lawyer, a highly creative person occasionally offends his or her friends or family with that creative work. Why? Well, it’s mostly accidental, but sometimes a breakup, divorce, fight, or injury comes into that article, photo, song, or what have you.
What can we say? Life inspires us and it’s how a highly creative person copes. As my marriage slowly and painfully disintegrated, my heart flooded to the paper or web, so to speak, and infiltrated my comedy routine.
Your friend might grab a beer when his wife leaves him, but you, the creative person, break out your camera or whatever other artistic tool suits your mood.
4. We’re life-long fighters against being underpaid.
For some reason, people like to take advantage of artists. Ad after ad states, “No compensation but exposure to people! Gain experience!”
Does anyone else work for free? I’m pretty sure most doctors, nurses, teachers, janitors, computer techs, etc., etc., all expect to get paid for their work; yet somehow, a painting, piece of writing, photo, song, jingle, makeup artistry job, and other artistic endeavors are all supposed to be from the bottom of our good hearts.
Thanks, but no thanks. Any work is work, whether it’s artistic or manual labor. Sorry, not sorry.
5. We can turn a bad situation into personal gain.
A bad date or boyfriend sucks for anyone, even an artist, but the highly creative person can make gold out of the crappiest situations. Think of all the famous creative people you know and I bet you that 90 percent of their successes stemmed from a crappy situation.
So, be careful jerks and douchebags: You might end up in our next novel. Too bad, so sad.
6. We slowly die from mundane routine.
We all get tired of ruts and routines, but a desk job or corporate gig can suck the soul from a creative person’s heart in about three seconds flat. What the average everyday Joe or Jill finds as just another day is “a day of torture” for the highly creative soul.
7. We have great skills … that nobody really cares about.
I studied literature, writing, and gender in college. Does anyone in the real world care? Nope. People in the adult world care about Microsoft Office and spreadsheets, not portrait-painting skills or vocal scales.
Being a highly creative person often means being endowed with skills that no one but our own small center of the universe appreciates.
8. We have some ideas that don’t come to fruition until years later.
An accountant can finish his job in a decent amount of time. A doctor can finish surgery that day. Could you imagine if your divorce lawyer said he needed to get inspiration on how to handle your case, and then fifteen years later, you finally end up divorce? I don’t think so.
An artist can take a gazillion years to finish one painting. Highly creative people have a timeline that’s usually dictated by our creative juices and our adult life responsibilities.
9. We’ll choose our passion over any dull 9 to 5 job every time.
Some of us are lucky to make a living doing what we love; another small percentage is lucky doing something similar to what we love. And still, the majority of us do something we don’t like, all to pay the bills.
Hey, it’s hard to make a living writing poetry, sculpting, or playing guitar. We know this and accept this. For those of us who do what we love for a living, we know how blessed we are.
10. We always try to improve our work.
A book, a song, or a photograph — something could be fixed. It’s never quite right or finished. Infuriating and annoying as hell? Yes, but that’s life for us.
11. We’re easily moved to tears.
Some people call you dramatic, some call you emotional, but we prefer “passionate.” A song or dance could instantly move us to tears. Why? Well, perhaps highly creative people’s emotions run deeper than the rest of the planet’s. Pass the tissues!