Creativity as a privilege.
I quit my job back in May.
Which, speaking of privilege, was a huge one.
I had some money saved up, and was hopeful I’d be able to take a few months off before finding another job. So after weeks and weeks of contemplating it, I finally gave my notice, and left.
My main goal with quitting was to recover. I was burnt out, felt like I was constantly in survival mode, and most days, I barely recognized myself.
My second goal was to hopefully get back in touch with my creativity, which I hadn’t given much of any attention to for the greater part of 3 years.
I’m not sure how common a goal it is to ‘get in touch with your creativity.’ My guess is many people naturally integrate creativity into their lives, so don’t need to make it a goal.
Others, I imagine, are like me before I quit: running so fast in their pursuit of survival (and perhaps success) that a seemingly frivolous goal like ‘getting creative’ does not, or literally CANnot cross their mind.
Capitalism & privilege.
And this is what I can’t get out of my head. How capitalism has turned creativity — what should be a birthright — into a privilege.
When we’re young, and if we’re lucky, our needs are largely met for us, by parents and caretakers. Our creativity is more easily accessible, because we have the space for it to exist.
We play, we make bad art, we use our imagination.
Then we get older, the responsibility to care for ourselves becomes ours, and oftentimes, we become stressed at best, or in my case, entirely burnt out. We swap the natural desire and space to express our creativity with the desire and need for survival.
This especially goes for those that are marginalized: POC, minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, the disabled, women…
Many of us can’t possibly integrate creativity into our lives, because we’re too busy running for our lives. Trying to keep or find a job, make money to pay for a roof over our heads / for food / for survival.
Never mind if you’re dealing with any kind of crisis or other significant challenge on top of the challenge of surviving. A breakup, a layoff, a health scare…
Reaching rock bottom at the worst of my burnout got me thinking about my life before capitalism ruled it. And how I used to make stuff… because I wanted to. And how good and glorious that felt. 😏
Creativity as a birthright.
This is what I want for all of us.
The space (and consequent desire) to make stuff, and the joy and fulfillment that comes with that.
I’ve heard it said that at our core, we’re all just mammals who like to make beautiful things and look at said things. (And when we’re not doing that, we like to cuddle and groom the other mammals that we love). And I tend to agree.
So I think we should all have the right to do these things.
It’s only fair, given that none of us even asked to be here (not literally, at least).
And yet, what I have a hard time reconciling, is the fact that we’re all born into these systems, often rigged against us, causing access to these things to be reserved for only those that have significant amounts of privilege (read: money).
And for the rest of us… well, we’re hustling to survive. Thus causing the notion of making shit for fun to sound almost silly.
Like I’m sorry, but I’m worried about paying rent next month, and buying groceries to feed myself. And at the end of each day, I’m so wiped, I’m lucky if I can make a meal and zone out in front of the tv before doing it all again the next day. So no, I do not have time to draw or color or do whatever else it is you mean by ‘create.’ 🙃
^ me, if you asked me if I create, in the thick of my burnout/job searching. And this is and was me coming from an already incredibly privileged place myself, relatively speaking. I can only imagine how much harder it is for people for whom the system is so much more aggressively rigged against.
Reclaim it with me.
Still, I believe, creativity IS our birthright. Or else, it should be. It’s only become a privilege since survival itself has become a privilege. And I want to change that.
So. What do you say? How do we do it? Should we overthrow the government? All live on a commune and care for each other like family? 👀
For me, and for now, it starts with the little things.
In the middle of a busy day at work, or looking for jobs, it’s cutting up a snack for myself, and laying it on a plate, just so.
It’s journaling about nothing for 3 minutes in the morning, in handwriting so messy that I know I’ll never be able to read back what I wrote. (I’m always amazed at how time slows down, even in those 3 minutes).
It’s saying no to shit I don’t need to say yes to, towards the end of a long work day, so that I can log off to make a nice meal for myself and my partner instead. (Art).
It’s folding the clothes beautifully, after a big load of laundry… that’s right. Chores are art, damn it.
The question for me (and for you if you’d like) is: how can we invite art and freshness into our existence as it is?
And if that doesn’t feel feasible to do on your own: how can you rely on the support of those around you, or perhaps seek out support from those you don’t yet know, to help invite it in?
It’s not fair that we have to work to create space for something that — survival mode aside — would be so inherent to our existence. I’ll say it again, creativity is our birthright, and I wish the world (or at least the US) saw it that way.
But if fighting for it is the only way, then fight for it, we must. Right?
Wait, why do I sound like I’m about to start a revolution rn?
The cool thing about taking this approach, is creativity begets creativity. Life creates life. So doing these tiny things, I notice, naturally feels so good that it encourages me to do more things like it. Capitalism may have 40+ hours of my life, but I will find ways to build creativity and thoughtful intricacies into it, no matter what. That’s how I feel right now at least, caffeinated and heading into a weekend. (Ask me again on Monday and perhaps I’ll have a little less pizzazz and fight in me, for this so-called revolution).
Anyway… that’s what I have to say this week. Stepping off my 🧼📦 now. What do you think about this stuff? How do you create space for creativity or whatever it is that brings you joy in your own life?
Btw when I say creativity, I really just mean anything that brings new energy and life into your own life. Playfulness, joy, laughter, writing, drawing, coloring, knitting, photography, posting on social media, having a conversation, sex, dancing, resting, reading, (as I said) laundry, making snacks or food for yourself, journaling… the list goes on. All of these things involve creation of some sort. Making something exist that wasn’t previously there. And they’re all equally beautiful and valid. 🎨
Okay, I’m signing off now. Would love to hear from you, as always!
LOVE TO U ALL,
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