When I was a kid, I have a memory of going to an arts and crafts programme every week after school down at Nathan Homestead.
Every week we would create something.
One day, we made stamps out of potatoes and printed them on paper.
I decided to create different pokeballs from pokemon (that was the shizz back then).
I got so excited about my art work, I stole my art piece home to show my mum.
(I had to steal it because the teacher said we can only take them home at the end of term.)
I took my art home proudly and I showed my beloved art to my mum.
She took one look at it and spoke in cantonese;
“What is that? It looks like rubbish.”
When my mum left the room; I remember feeling like I just got punched in the gut.
I slowly ripped up my art, screwing it up and tossing it in the bin;
While promising myself to never be creative again.
Since that day I don’t ever think I ever did anything creative or touched anything arty.
I mean why would I express my creativity just so someone would insult me.
And I wonder how many people have shared this similar experience;
Where a parent destroyed their art,
Or how a friend was mocking their art,
Or maybe a teacher degraded their art.
And out of that people swore to themselves they will never be creative anymore.
And as life goes on; you begin to have little to no confidence in your creativity.
You believe that you are not creative, you turn away from creativity and you master the phrases like:
“I’m not into art” or “I’m not creative”.
Which I have heard from people in many different circles.
I help out with a youth club with young people aged 7-10.
Sometimes we do arts and crafts.
The scary thing is that some of the young people believe that they are not creative.
Or possibly they have had a similar experience like mine;
Where their creativity was crushed.
I hear phrases I resonate with, like:
“I can’t draw” or “It’s going to look ugly”.
Creativity is an expression of who you are.
It takes courage to express yourself especially when there is little or no confidence.
I remember when I was a teenager and I wanted to speak and share my story to the world;
I was so scared picking up a pen and paper to write because deep down I believed that I wasn’t creative.
And the echo from my past proved it.
And what if, I expressed myself, my creativity; and I got punched in the gut again.
When I was struggling with this, a friend said this:
“Who told you that you couldn’t write?”
“How do you know that it’s going to suck, when you haven’t written it?”
“What if, it turns out good?”
“Just keep on practicing to get better.”
I froze as I couldn’t answer those questions or phrases at the time.
But magically these words did something in me;
They were my turning point to try to be creative again.
I started a journey where I found the courage and confidence to write and tell stories.
I picked up from the moment I gave creativity the finger and where my creativity growth and development was stunted;
And I slowly tapped into my creativity and learnt to express myself again.
At youth clubs, the young people we journey with;
I do not want their creativity to be stunted like mine.
For almost 10 years I did not know that I had a gift for speaking and writing; and I almost missed out on my gifts.
(I rate myself above average speakers and writers).
I don’t want people to miss out on their gifts of creativity like me.
I want our youth clubs to become a place where young people discover or rediscover their creativity, their gifts;
And have the courage and confidence to express them.
So when I hear phrases like: “I can’t draw” or “It’s going to look ugly”
I remember my turning points of creativity;
And I start asking them:
“Who told you that you can’t draw?”
“How do you know it’s going to look ugly when you haven’t drawn it?”
“What if, it turns out good?”
“Just keep practicing to get better.”
And just maybe they will find the courage and confidence in their creativity and their gifts to express themselves to our world.