Women of The Wedding Industry Wednesday with Angela Kaufman of Plume & Proper
Creativity takes courage.
My fingers shake/wiggle/woogity woogity a little as I type that.
What about you? If you repeat that back to yourself, once, twice, or three times how does it feel?
Creativity takes courage.
It feels powerful to me. I didn't know courage could be associated with creativity. I thought courage was for physical things that happen outside of the body. Winning a fight. Being sent to war. Winning a Texas pistol duel. Doing something impossibly daring. Driving your motorcycle over a wide gorge somewhere in the desert and not dying. I didn't know the power of courage could exist in the brain. Could show up in"being one who creates". Could be defined somewhere in the lofty work of the arts.
Creativity takes courage.
It feels real to me. There are days when being creative feels like a curse. Days when I would give anything to be someone who could be happy given a task list that someone else made, and punching through it. Days when I wish I didn't create a mess out of the restless and impulsive and compulsive need to chase something that doesn't exist yet but I feel compelled to bring into existence. For once I wish I could wake up and just be and it would be enough. Just be glad for it all and not need to add anything to the world from myself.
Creativity takes courage.
It feels raw to me. How afraid I've been to wake up so many days throughout this entrepreneurial journey. Afraid to set my own schedule for a day, knowing it never feels like I am doing enough. Afraid to look at my bank account. Afraid to check my email. What if there is a problem I'm not capable of solving? What if I've pissed someone off? What if they hate me? What if they fire me? Afraid to open up the littlest app on my phone that has such a looming presence over my sense of self worth. What if I have offended someone? What if my work isn't good enough? What if I copied someone? What if they copied me? What if I'm too sensitive? What if I'm not sensitive enough?
Is not the relentless What If the itchiest thing you've ever touched?
I had the benefit of seeing a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist for a few years of my life when I determined I couldn't live with my brain anymore and I wanted something like a low-key lobotomy to make it better. I said is there any way to give me a new brain? Sure said Barb. But you're going to have to work for it. Following your old, well worn, and familiar trails is much easier than carving new ones. One exercise she'd always lead me through was "state the worst". She said people were so sure they could just beat around the bush with literally every uncomfortable emotion or problem or fault in their being, beating their brain muscle into a shape that was unrecognizable and not very functional. They incapacitated their thinking abilities because they were too ashamed to say what they really felt. To really identify with gross, uncomfortable feelings.
So she would just stare at me and say "Say it".
"OKAY! I'd say after awhile. Staring at the clock wondering if I could actually just sneak out early. Dammit. Embarrassed. Sweating off my natural deodorant that doesn't do jack for someone with my prolific glands. And I would begin a long run on sentence of What if and What if and What if that left a trail of my worst fears. After the exercise was over, I'd feel like garbage. I'd just stated the things I couldn't let people know about me. That I am susceptible to vulnerability. That I feel deeply. That I care what others think of me. That my self worth was often tied to public opinion. That being unlovable and unloved was a my worst fear. That not being good enough would equal death. That being utterly useless in the grand scheme of things kept me up at night and paralyzed me and I was living a life that reflected a desire for safety rather than a life I had authorship and ownership over. I was 23 at the time and felt like I had royally failed the 7 year old me who thought she ruled with a glitter pen. Do you remember what it was like to be a child who creates? Heaven. Bliss. It wasn't courage that led you to write and draw and paint and sing and build and color and play and command a classroom of 20 unruly stuffed animal pupils. It was instinct and you were excellent at it.
But afterwards, and years later I feel better about those What Ifs. I feel less controlled by them. I honor them, observe them. And absolutely try not to confuse them with truth. And in doing so, I was able to fearfully but finally step into my life as a creative entrepreneur.
Sound familiar? Of course it does. We may be biologically unique. There's not a single soul that has ever lived or that ever will live that has your exact same set of fingerprints.
But socially, we are all not so different. We developed and were created around other human beings. Humans that didn't have strong, supportive, communal social groups eventually died. We don't know their stories of independence and personal glory and tales of excellent solo surviving skills because there is strong anthropological evidence to suggest that they didn't make it.
What we have to gather everything we know about the world and it's history from instead is by groups of people that were organized under various structural cohabiting units. Families. Households. Kin. Clans. Villages. Communes. Tribes. Groups. Communities. Bands. Nations. And later Crews, Teams, Mobs, Cabals, Cliques, and Peer Groups.
Your being is organized. Into something. Into probably many things. You're an individual, but you're really not. And if you are a creative, that is the paradox you live with daily.
What I take from that, and what maybe you can too, if you struggle with identifying as a creative individual is that there is precedent for people like you. And I can promise you, you undoubtedly matter in the grand scheme of things. What you create matters.
Because while our ancestors were becoming prolifically good at surviving, they were creating too. They are one in the same. Creation is not somehow separated from the important task of being good at living, it is entwined in it. It is the soil of the surviving roots of humanity. Our capabilities as creative beings were never a hindrance to human success and achievement, but a condition of it.
So, to summarize.
Creativity can be uncomfortable. So uncomfortable. Do it anyways. Led by the instincts you were born with rather than the desire to be an individual. It's been done, in some form or another. I promise. But it hasn't been done by you yet, and the flourishing of the arts rely on lots of people trying it their way, influenced by their experience. Creativity connects us through shared experience.
Creativity can make you feel vulnerable. Because you might fail. And people might hate it. Get comfortable with that. Let it sink in. Then try to stop feeling responsible for what others think of your work. Trust a few people to critique you, and to help you improve. Treat them like a panel at your dissertation defense. The Supreme Court, the entity charged with determining legality and justice for OUR ENTIRE COUNTRY has only 9 people on it. You don't need more than 9 experts on your panel. I promise.
Creativity takes courage. I'm just wondering if you've given yourself that yet. Have you accepted it? Have you internalized it and owned it? Have you understood that the very act of being creative is courageous? I think the more courageous you feel, the more freely you'll act on it. So take that word, and swallow it like a pill.
I'm so thankful that the very first piece of work Angela of Plume & Proper shared in her digital portfolio with the world (AKA the gram) was that statement - Creativity Takes Courage - in her absolutely gorgeous penmanship.
I'm sure its been said. I'm sure its penned in other people's beautiful penmanship. But the world and your opportunities in it are related to spatial proximity, and I may have never dwelled on this statement, or tried it on as one of my mantras if it hadn't been for seeing Angela's work.
Angela is kind of elusive, hella beautiful, the kind of person who actually makes me laugh out loud. I love people that make me laugh. She's someone I feel connected to in the sense that she keeps it light and uses humor possibly as means to soothe other feelings that accompany any creative person sharing their work with the world. She's sweet. I love people that aren't afraid to be sweet. It doesn't make you any less important. She has what appears to be raw talent, a gift that she has & has honed with not just discipline, but curiosity. I love people that act on curiosity. She's a self taught calligrapher who is making a full-time living writing things for people. If that's not its own kind of magic, I don't know what is. I love people that make you believe in them. And I 100% believe in Angela and her work.
So sit back and get cozy. We talk about how wrong I was about Seattle, and what it really feels like leaving your corporate job. We talk about how if you aren't following Cassie Tackett on Insta you're missing out on anywhere from 3- 12 laughs a day. We talk about Angela's potential as an ASMR YouTube star, and how she wrote in one of my favorite fonts of all time, Game of Thrones.
Creativity takes courage. And I'm so glad people recognized in Angela what she maybe didn't see in herself. That's how it always works, right?
With Angela Kaufman of Plume & Proper
Photo credit: Blair Lim Photography
You moved from Seattle to Southeast Michigan. So I take it you're not too into sunshine?