Originally published at www.sianmelton.com on June 29, 2012.
I like to say that I’m a creative person. In fact, it would be one of the top three words I would use to describe myself. (After “awesome”, but before “modest”.) Yet, despite the fact that I act like I’ve fully embraced my creativity, I’ve more or less struggled with it for most of my young adult life.
I’m not sure what happened to me when I was little, but somewhere along the way, I developed this crippling fear of being wrong, and this intense need to always be right. I was, gulp, a perfectionist. Instead of channeling all of my rad kid-powers into exploring and adventuring and getting messy, I obsessed over making sure I was always right.
I blame this on a lot of things: misguided praise, Sunny D (seriously, whatever that drink is made out of can’t be good for a developing mind and I drank a disgusting amount as a child), an education system more concerned with test results than the actual well-being of children, the Nancy Drew series (how am I supposed to compete with a girl who can pick locks, has a convertible, and can fly airplanes?)… but whatever the reasons, I sort of missed out on having a super creative childhood.
In school, all I cared about was making sure I had the right answers, and that I got the best marks. “You’re so smart,” people would say to me. I had to live up to that so if I wasn’t good at something right off the bat I would avoid it. And there are only so many things that a person can be naturally and immediately good at. Sometimes I want to go back in time and shake Younger Me really hard. Not hard enough to cause brain damage, because that would be counter-productive wouldn’t it, but hard enough to shake loose the obsession with being perfect.
You can’t be creative if you’re trying to be perfect — it doesn’t work that way. Creativity thrives in a place free of the fear of being wrong. It’s as much about the process — and maybe more — as it is about the end result. I felt like I somehow knew this before actually really knowing it. In the back of my head I was always all, “Siân, what the what. You are creative. Why aren’t you doing creative things? Also, why aren’t you making yourself an egg salad sandwich? Because, delicious.” For whatever reason, I didn’t listen to myself. I also didn’t listen to all of the people in my life telling me to do the creative things I knew, and they knew, that I was good at. I was always full of excuses for why not: I’m tired, it’s too expensive, I’m too old, it’s too risky, I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, I don’t own a raccoon.
And then . . . kaboom. And by “kaboom,” I mean that in the past five months I accomplished the following: found inspiration, left school, started a short film project with friends, directed something, edited that something, decided to move back to New York City, fell in love, worked at a new film festival, got rid of my apartment — my life — in Toronto, went to live in Seattle for a month, worked at another film festival, made new friends, saw old friends, adventured.
If you asked me if I thought I made the “right” decision, or the “smart” one, I would have to say “no.” Because, well, I’m broke, crashing at my Dad’s, and have no idea what I’m doing. Also, I’m pretty sure the Canadian government is going to start coming after me soon for the money I owe them. Could someone pass along the message that I died some sort of fiery death? Fiery, because that’s way cooler.
I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s not perfect. It’s probably wrong. It’s definitely not safe. I might be plotting my own fake Canadian Death soon.
But, what I do know is this: I am a creative person and I want to live more creatively. I want to follow my passions and do the things I am good at and love to do. I want to be brave. Also, I want to eat a lot of ice cream. Aside from eating ice cream, these are the things that I am good at and love to do: working at film festivals, writing, taking pictures, playing with children, making films, baking, high fives.
I’m going to figure out a way to combine these things in a way that makes me happy.
But, really, if you could all keep your eyes open for a Professional Ice Cream Eater position, I would very much appreciate it.