I'm an Introvert. I'm also a Creative. I think the two are somewhat related.
Many introverts are also highly creative individuals. It makes sense. We have rich inner lives, we seek solitude, we observe and we listen. And since we generally don't express ourselves openly and often with others, all of this information has to go somewhere. If we don't find some way to release it, we will explode. So we express ourselves in the things that we create.
I, like many other introverts, am content living in my own inner world a majority of the time. I can get lost in my writing and my art for days on end before I start to feel the twinge of loneliness or realize that I should probably reach out to another human being. During this alone time, I create. I write my stories, I paint, I sketch, I design, I build.
And for a very long time, this was enough.
But eventually, I felt the call to start sharing my work with the world. I promptly ignored this call. It felt too risky. Only wildly confident, extroverted, professionals put their work out into the world, right?? I thought: I'm not a real writer, or a real artist. I was just doing this for fun, I though it didn't matter if no one else ever saw my work other than my husband and my dog.
But it does matter.
Creativity is a force of nature. It is a fundamental part of who we are. And whether you and I like it or not, it is meant to be shared.
As introverts, we tend to avoid any form of over-sharing. But as creatives, it is our duty to share our work with the world.
The likely result of this duplicity: FEAR and PROCRASTINATION.
I found myself locked in inaction due to fear and procrastination for years. I continued to create - in one way or another - throughout this time, but I could not find the courage to take that first step toward sharing my work with the world.
The moment that I finally burst through the fear was when I asked myself this question:
When I am at the end of my life, and I'm looking back over all of the things that I did and didn't do, which would I regret more: facing my fears by putting myself out there and risking failure and embarrassment, or playing it safe and not even trying?
The thought of the latter was too much to bear, and terrified me more than anything else.
It was time to take action.
And so I did. I started to put myself out there. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done. I felt vulnerable, afraid, embarrassed. But I also felt ALIVE. At long last, I felt like I was really living, like I was finally in the game.
Here are few things that I learned and insights that I gained as I started to put myself and my creative ideas out into the world. If you are a highly creative introvert, maybe they can help you too.
1. Start small.
I knew in my heart that the thing I most wanted to share was my writing. But it was too personal and too precious to me to just throw it out there for all to see. I needed to ease into this. So I did other things to get warmed up. I had a small side business decorating cakes and teaching cake decorating classes at the time, so that seemed to be logical place to start. I began by sharing photos of my cakes on social media. I started decorating cakes for friends, and work events. I started sharing my cake decorating skills and talents freely. And it went great. The feedback that I got was very encouraging. It helped me see that when you share your skills and talents, others are grateful. They appreciate what you have to offer.
2. Take the Plunge.
After several years of expressing my creativity through cakes, I finally got up the nerve to start a blog. I had no idea how to start a blog, or even what my topic would be, but I knew that I had to do it. So I set up a simple website, made a page for my cakes, another for my artwork, and finally... a BLOG! I will never forget the day I published my first article, I was both terrified and excited. I hit "publish" and did a happy dance. But then it hit me: NO ONE even knew that my blog existed other than me, my husband and my mom. Hmmm. I realized that I was going to have to do more than just post on my website, I was going to have to advertise my work. Oh God, no. Self promotion was too much to even think about at this point. I had mistakenly thought that "if I wrote it they would come."
3. Own Your Worth.
I finally got up the nerve to start sharing my blog articles on social media. But still, I was reluctant to talk about it with others. Anytime my blog came up in conversation, I would downplay it as though it was nothing. Then I couldn't understand why others weren't at all interested in talking about it with me. Well, I had hardly made it sound interesting! Only very recently have I begun to talk about my writing and my blog openly. I am proud of my blog, more-so than maybe anything else in my life. I have worked so hard and poured my heart out in my writing, I've made my very best attempt to be honest and to help others who may be dealing with some of the same things that I am. So I finally realized that it's ok to be proud of something that I have created and to share these positive feelings. It's ok to talk about it. Its ok to suggest that others read it. That is not arrogance - it's generosity. It's sharing something that I honestly believe will help someone else or make their life better. I'm not helping anyone by writing or creating something and then hiding away and keeping it to myself, am I? Neither are you. Share your art. Own your worth.
4. Be Consistent.
I'm not gonna lie, some of what I've created is crap. But some of it is gold. And if I hadn't muddled through the crap, I would never have struck gold. That's just how it goes. So. Keep on creating and sharing your stuff, even if it isn't perfect, even if it doesn't live up to the ridiculously high standards you've set for yourself. Sometimes it is better to be consistent than to be great. Especially when you are just starting out. Also. Just to warn you: when you start putting yourself out there more and more, you are inevitably going to want to quit. You'll hit "post" and become overwhelmed with feelings of doubt and shame. You'll ask yourself how you could ever have been so stupid as to think that anyone would enjoy or appreciate your art. You'll stress over how your family and friends will react to your stories. You'll worry that you've offended someone. You'll want to hide under a rock. But then, a few days later, another seed of an idea will take hold in your heart, and you'll get excited about your art again. You'll nurture it until it becomes something beautiful, then you'll share it, and the whole process will begin again. And that's the good news. Keep going.
I hope some of this was helpful to you, dear introverted sisters and brothers.
Now, get crackin'! There's work to do - your creativity awaits!
Till next time,
© Haley McManigal 2016
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