When I was seventeen, I discovered juicing. (I like to think I was very ahead-of-the-times back in 2010.)
It was a big realization: that the food I put in my body actually made me feel way better. This "No, duh" observation was a revelation at the time, since I'd subsisted one year on lunches of solely Hot Cheetos and half-cooked Cup Noodles once and didn't think twice of it, and had no inkling of why I was so moody and tired all the time.
So naturally I evangelized green juicing to anyone who would listen, to the point where my mom's boyfriend and my skeptical uncle even became avid juicers.
I was pretty proud of my successful campaign in converting unlikely people to healthy habits back when it wasn't yet the sworn elixir of every celebrity ever.
And now I'm on a new campaign, borne of a similar turning point—if not in topic then in magnitude.
If you've heard me talk at all recently, you know I'm now obsessed with something you would never have heard me talking about before: my new word du jour is "creativity."
How does someone so focused on business & entrepreneurship (plus yoga, true) become so hung up on such a fluffy pursuit?
In short, because I went from being very unhappy last year in a perfectly good job because I had so much repressed inspiration to being so ridiculously creatively fulfilled now (and I didn't even know that was a thing) that I can't shut up about it.
I feel like I've found this secret drug that's addictive but totally hangover-free and actually beneficial.
So before I start my indoctrination, let me define creativity:
Creativity is the process of turning an exciting idea into reality.
Yup. That's it. No crayons or Word document required. It doesn't have to be artsy. It can be any idea you have that fills you with curiosity, excitement, and enjoyment when you engage with it. If it lights you up from idea to end product, then all the steps in between are what I call creativity.
So why is this so important? And why am I binging on books and podcasts about it like a maniac?
Well, first, because I can be a pretty obsessive person. I prefer to call it intellectual curiosity.
And second, because I believe in my heart of hearts that it's deeply fulfilling and vital for us as human beings to create stuff. It's weirdly, inexplicably, delightfully fun to just make things.
Moreover, I used to think creativity was just the realm of this special species of Creative Types, and not for business-minded professionals like me to engage with in any serious way beyond dabbling.
But now I'm convinced that creativity is actually a latent human need within each and every one of us, and that when this need is fed it can be profoundly nourishing. Here's why creativity matters:
- When we have creative ideas but do not pursue them, it hurts. Brené Brown said it better than I ever could: "Unused creativity is not benign." This phrase haunted me when I first heard it, because it validated the very real agony I felt of desperately wanting to start writing stuff, interviewing people, and building online brands—but not having the time or courage to. Everyone has creative ideas, whether it's a tiny project or a big business idea. And everyone has been curious about a subject, and has enjoyed making a thing. Pursue those! They are not trivial! And they will make you come alive if you let them.
- We have gifts to give, and creativity is how we give it. I believe that everyone has their own signature cocktail of skills, interests, and qualities that lend them uniquely to a certain kind of work. This work doesn't have to be the same thing that earns you income, but that doesn't mean it's not out there. And when you heed that inner call, very often you say "yes" to expressing your gifts. I think there's a profound poetry to this that renders the world elegant and strangely just.
- Growth happens through creativity. Sure, there are external skills you can develop: I've honed my copywriting and critical thinking skills through blogging (I had a yoga Tumblr of a few thousand followers when I was a teenager, fun fact). And I've gained more business acumen from becoming perceptive about what audiences care about and how to deliver popular content. But a lot of inner growth can happen through the courage, discovery, and discipline it takes to commit to creative expression and practice. In fact, that's part of the reason I'm doing this #100daysproject: to put myself out there and expose my writing to the scrutiny of my peers, which both lets me overcome fear and also forces the work to stand against the litmus test of readership—which will hopefully improve my quality of writing faster. The craft is important to me.
For these reasons I think every single person should make time to engage their creativity. You don't have to do it now and you don't have to have one that is your only thing.
But you will likely eventually have ideas that interest or excite you. And you will be faced with the choice of either brushing them aside to continue with your practical routines, or to feed your inner creative animal. I urge you to do the latter.
I used to think it didn't matter, and I ignored my creative impulses with "Tomorrow" or "After I'm done with the important work" as my ever-present excuses—but this ended up making me pretty unhappy.
So then I finally decided to honor the inspiration, and I couldn't be more thankful I mustered the courage. And this creative awakening has been so surprisingly, richly rewarding that I can only pay it forward by encouraging others to take the leap as well... even if it's just one tiny step.