Stuck In A Creative Rut? Here's How To Get It Back.
How is creativity lost? Complacency. The one thing that creeps in so quietly and subtly that we fail to realise the detrimental effects of it. And complacency comes out of a place of comfort. Comfort isn’t wrong in and of itself. But when we continuously choose to fall back on being comfortable and stay within our “safe” zones, psychological and emotional growth ceases. The routine of choosing to stay comfortable, out of complacency, kills creativity. How to get creativity back? Here’s how. Creativity thrives exponentially in environments of change, in environments of discomfort, in environments outside of comfort zones. I for one experienced a spurt in creativity when I chose to put myself in the uncomfortable (and unconventional) position of travelling solo.
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Growing up in a traditional Asian family, I was always told that it’s dangerous to travel alone as a female. Plus, I didn’t have good navigational skills –– reading maps was (and still is) my bane in life cause I often get more lost than found. There was every reason for me not to travel and for a period in my life, I succumbed to those reasons because it’s always easier to talk your way out of things than convince yourself (and your parents,), to agreeing to let you fly solo. It felt safe and comfortable for awhile but there came a point in my life where I felt increasingly uncomfortable with how comfortable I was with life. This sense of restlessness was pushing me towards experiencing the unknown.
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And just when you’d think I’d suddenly break out of my comfort zone and be the heroine of the story at this point, I did not. Instead, I shrank back into my comfort zone, telling myself every seemingly noble reason why it’s better not to go. So trust me, I do struggle too, and can empathise with those who are on the same journey. I understand that it’s really not easy but I’m here to tell you, as someone who’s been through that struggle and chose to do something unconventional through that discomfort, that you won’t regret it.
The Turning Point.
For me, the turning point came after going through this same struggle several times. It took months to desensitize myself to every uncomfortable reason my mind threw at me to stay. Concurrently, I was getting increasingly excited at the thought of travelling solo. This sense and intensity of freedom, independence and creativity isn’t something that we all get to experience everyday. We grow up in a system that provides more stability for individuals who fit into an existing role society carves out for them, compared to individuals who’d rather customize their own societal roles. It makes us want to fit in and be comfortable with having a certain job title associated to our name.
Nothing wrong with that, but I think it’s important to continuously experience new roles, even in the corporate world. Creativity dies because of a lack of stimulus to think out of the box. So for me, I chose to throw myself into the deep end of things –– before I become attached, before having a family etc. I didn’t have much money but the desire to travel and experience new things outweighed my worries.
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That’s when I took the plunge. It didn’t matter where I went, I could go anywhr in the world (no pun intended), just as long as I left this familiar country, without company I was familiar with, namely my family. I had no idea what my destination was until the day before my flight, and in spite of not knowing much, I decided to jump on a plane and just wing it (pun intended, totally) anyway. All I had was my passport, a customised Travelogue telling me where I’d be staying. That’s when the fun began and when creativity started to surge. Just as how creativity decreases gradually over a series of choices, it increases the same way too. We constantly talk ourselves out of things, but what if we chose to talk ourselves into going on an adventure, into doing something fun regardless of how unconventional it may seem.
Creativity starts to come back when you choose to challenge your limitations, believing that there’s a solution in the unknown future that will make every worry and doubt in your present worth persisting through. Creativity gives perspective and that’s why I love travelling. It’s uncomfortable and unpredictable, and the faster we come to grapple with and accept that, the more our attention shifts from feeling the discomfort to learning how to roll with it and even create beautiful memories and experiences with people we meet along the way. Creativity gives depth personality—the struggle you go through today is the inspiration someone else could use tomorrow.
The customised journey I was on exposed me to people who lived in both luxury and poverty. My Travelogue brought me to landscapes Singapore is too small to contain. It’s more than just exploring the unknown, it’s the entire experience of having a mindset shift that leads to a rediscovery of yourself and the world we live in. Even better when you don’t have to worry about safety because it’s all been accounted for.
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Creativity grows or slows with every choice we make. So the next time you come to this juncture and wrestle with the same sentiments as I did, remember that you’re not alone, but whatever concerns you have – safety, accommodation, budget travelling options, transport, they’re all accounted for. What’s left is for you to take the leap of faith and experience what it’s like to have childlike wonder and creativity in exploring this wonderful world we live in. And that’s the story of how creativity is lost and more importantly, how you can start getting it back here.