One thing that holds many people back from realising their potential is the fear of vulnerability. But it is OK to be creatively vulnerable.
I’d go a step further. It’s necessary to make yourself vulnerable in order to be truly creative. Furthermore, creative activity is unique in providing a space in which we can be vulnerable without putting ourselves in danger.
Of course, within an educational setting it is vital that safeguards are in place to ensure safety. Once that is in hand, the freedom to let go of certainty and security is truly liberating. But why is this important?
Free to Express Yourself
It’s important because a life lived in fear is one of repression and limitation. Once you have experienced the reality that others’ opinions can’t hurt, you are then free to express yourself in whatever way you like.
Reaching that point may take a little time and effort. And one of the biggest fears for many people is that of being laughed at. For younger children, this can be particularly so.
To help them overcome this, it is essential they be put on an equal footing with their peers. When all are equally vulnerable, then mutual support can be instilled. And a good way to facilitate this is to present a creative challenge which is new to all participants.
Working visually, this may mean introducing a new medium to a group or class. In sound, this could be providing instruments that are unfamiliar or asking a group to work with their voices in new and unusual ways. Physically, the challenge may be to find new ways of moving or interacting with others.
Anyone who has taken part in an outward-bound activity that pushed all participants beyond their imagined limits will know what a bonding experience this can be. It may seem strange to equate this with art work but the outcomes can be very similar. The sense of togetherness and mutual support engendered by, for example, putting on a theatrical production can be truly exhilarating.
It’s ironic that we fear alienation and ridicule by making ourselves vulnerable through creative pursuits. In the event, we are more likely to forge closer bonds and connections with others when we allow this vulnerability. We all crave shared experience and often it’s the more uncomfortable situations that fulfil this need the most.
Empathy & Admiration
Even solo creative pursuits can work in this way. A singer, sharing their thoughts and feeling through song connects with others in a way that may illude them in day-to-day life. A visual artist, though remote from those viewing their work, may similarly evoke levels of empathy and admiration they’d not otherwise imagined.
In all cases, the artist or creator has had to lay themselves bare to a greater or lesser extent. And, in all cases, they will have found that this has done them no harm. Quite the contrary: it has enhanced not only their own life but those of many around them.
Which can’t be a bad thing. Can it?