My Path of Creativity
Updated: Jan 17
Is one consistently creative or consumptive for a lifetime?
I know I have been all over the Creativity and Consumption spectrum. A lot of it has been strongly influenced by family members and by how society has changed in my lifetime.
I was fortunate to be raised by an incredibly creative family, in a time before technology was at the center of our lives. As a child, I recall most of my days being outside, playing with my siblings. That was our favorite thing to do. We loved to play adventure games based solely in our imaginations.
I had a classical family set up. My parents had seven children and my mom was a full-time homemaker. In order, we’ll call the kids: Michelle, Ariel, Anne (me), Douglas, Scott, Todd, and Gilbert. I had two older sisters and four younger brothers. Michelle was 6 years older than me and Gilbert was almost 16 years younger than me, so there was quite an age range between us all.
The age of Michelle and Ariel
At first, my sisters were at the heart of our games. They would come up with a creative scenario where we would play various characters and save the day. It was great fun! My sisters had wonderful imaginations.
But then something I thought was terrible happened; my sisters started growing up and preferred hanging out with the boring adults rather than going on adventures with me and my brothers. Michelle was the first to drift away, but eventually we couldn’t even get Ariel to play with us. That left leading our adventures to me.
The age of Anne
I recall my adventures were more basic and repetitive than my sisters’, but fortunately my brothers liked them. We played space pirates, dragon riders, and Fire Swamp. Soon enough, I was the favorite sister and it didn’t even matter that the older girls were doing something else.
Over time, my brothers and I developed new games of our own, like the Epic Food Code and Eyelash Monster, which were really fun for us. However, I started to develop a taste for what my sisters were up to.
My parents used to role play with their friends a lot, and eventually, my mom branched into creative writing. She was good at it too! (Check out her works here!) My sisters jumped into it pretty quickly as well as they grew up (these were some of the aforementioned adult activities they left me and my brothers for). (Now all of them are into it at DeBokton Book.) I really enjoyed listening to Michelle talk about her stories. We would spend hours together as she told me the details of the worlds she created in her mind.
Turning into an adult
I started to dabble in creative writing as well, coming up with many plots and premises. Eventually I wrote a novel. I also started to become more busy with school and social life that I didn’t play with my brothers as much through time. In undergrad, I still played adventure games with Todd over the phone (that one had an awesome imagination!), but by grad school, I hardly saw my family.
Falling out of creativity
While getting a masters degree in mathematics takes a great deal of creativity, albeit, a different kind, I was getting more swallowed up by consumption, as I had since my teenage years. I would shop online for hours (didn’t usually buy anything, but it was a huge waste of time), and I was addicted to movies and TV.
My husband’s example
After grad school, I got my dream job and got married to the most amazing man in the world; we’ll call him Ross. We still spend all the time we can together, whenever we aren’t working. The whole time, I had unintentionally tried to convert him to my movie/TV addiction, but fortunately he always had other priorities. I’d offer to watch a movie and he would offer to go on a walk and talk. I’d start binge watching with him and he’d stop early on to talk to me (my husband is amazing!).
It wasn’t just with movies though - if I walked into the room and he was listening to music or playing video games, he would immediately put it down so he could pay attention to me. Unfortunately, I haven’t been as good about that. When Ross talked to me, I consistently found myself checking my phone and only partially paying attention. I always had an excuse, like answering work emails or trying to keep my several hundred day streak on Duolingo alive. These are good things, but spending time with my husband was better. Now when I come home from work, I ignore my phone, which helps.
One day, I was reminded to revisit the novel I once wrote, called King of Kalbem. I decided to rewrite it since I was unsatisfied with how it flowed, so I spent a couple of months working on it. What I discovered shocked me: creativity takes a lot of quiet time, discussion, and time without any consumption. I hadn’t done that in a long time! I had forgotten what it was like to spend an hour doing nothing but thinking. I was always watching, reading, or listening to something. I hadn’t spent much quality time on original thought.
This gave me a lot more appreciation for my husband as well, because I’m very accomplishment oriented. I thought being busy and inputting information constantly was very productive and I was concerned that Ross preferred to spend his time thinking and having discussions. That’s one way we balance each other out. Both are good, but balance is better.
I think there is more joy in creativity than consumption. Interaction with other human beings brings more fulfillment than most other activities. My challenge for you is to think of a person who inspired you to be creative, thank them (if you can), and revisit that topic. Spend at least 5 minutes thinking about it.