Is the Vulnerability of Creativity Worth It?

Today’s Blogtember prompt was “Get creative! Sketch, paint, dance, play music, whatever then give us a glimpse.” Even just reading those words sent a little spike of panic through me. Sharing something I’ve made, specifically something labelled “creative,” is scary. Why is this? I write and post in this space on a regular basis, but this felt different.

 

After having read through some of research professor and author Dr. Brené Brown’s work and learning more about vulnerability, I wanted to take a closer look at the vulnerability of creativity and figure out if it’s worth all the discomfort. And if I can rise to the challenge, there will be some of my creative work at the end.

Is the Vulnerability of Creativity Worth It?

Why does creativity induce fear?

We are all naturally creative as children and typically without fear in the beginning. Some of us lose this as we get older. In Daring Greatly, Brown wrote, “. . .85 percent of the men and women we interviewed for the shame research could recall a school incident from their childhood that was so shaming that it changed how they thought of themselves as learners.” And it turns out that half of those were situations where they were told they weren’t good at something creative.

 

Sharing our creativity opens up the opportunity to fail or be judged. This risk can lead to being rejected or ridiculed. Honestly, sometimes this will happen. These negative reactions create shame for us because humans desire to belong. However, it’s important to remember that our creation and our person are not worthless just because someone else doesn’t see it.

 

Is vulnerability worth the risk?

Brown has said, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” If you want to achieve any type of innovation, creativity, or change in your life, then vulnerability is absolutely worth the risk, and it’s not optional. As I mentioned above, sharing our creativity opens up the opportunity to fail or be judged.

 

On the flip side, sharing our creativity also opens up the opportunity to succeed, to find meaning and connection. That’s why it’s a risk. To avoid vulnerability for the sake of comfort is to opt out of the most fulfilling and educational experiences life has to offer. If you find that you’re uncomfortable, then you’re doing what you should be doing.

Sharing our creativity opens up the opportunity to succeed, to find meaning and connection. Click To Tweet

 

Now what?

Creativity and art are produced in an endless number of forms from painting to music to problem solving to knitting to performing to photography to baking to inventing and on and on. I have no doubt that you can find at least a couple creative ventures that interest you. I encourage you to be brave by intentionally making time for creativity and engaging in these (without comparison to others). It will bring a source of fulfillment into your life.

 

Then take it a step further and share your creations with others. If your creativity is not met with the response you had hoped for, remember that you choose the feedback you accept, and you as a person are still worthy. Then, with resiliency, reflect on the experience, brush yourself off, and try again.

 

After all that, I suppose I had better practice what I preach. Here is a poem I wrote entitled Room to Ruminate.

Ruminate Poem

What creative endeavors do you participate in? How have you shared them?

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91 Comment

  1. Reply
    Yolanda Rooney
    September 23, 2015 at 5:44 am

    This is a powerful post. It helped me sort through some things that have been on my mind. Thank you!

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 23, 2015 at 9:21 am

      I’m so glad. 🙂

  2. Reply
    Elena
    September 23, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    I love the way you took this prompt for Blog-tember! Very unique and so wise! I totally agree that creativity includes vulnerability, and I for one have felt very hurt when certain creative outlets went unseen or ridiculed. Creativity, but innovative and original, comes from a deep place and it’s hard when others don’t react positively. But I totally agree that being brave enough to be creative is so rewarding and joyful even if just for oneself. Awesome article!

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 23, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks so much! It’s great that you are courageous enough to engage in your creative pursuits despite past hurts. Keep going!

  3. Reply
    MonicaP
    September 23, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    I think asking someone to “be creative” invokes fear for some people. Others can just run with it .. I’m on the “fear” side .. lol.

    Monica.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 23, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      I can definitely relate.

  4. Reply
    Tori
    September 24, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Some of my best work comes from sharing personal experiences which can really terrify me at times. I’m working on a blog right now that’s incredibly personal and I’ve been dragging my feet but after reading this I think I better move forward and get it done. I appreciate your post and I adore your poem. Sharing poetry has been the most difficult thing for me so your example is perfect. Thank you.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 24, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      I encourage you to be courageous and share that personal blog. I wrote a post on self-injury and was terrified to post it. When I finally did, the outpouring of encouragement was wonderful. Even better were the responses from those who have been through it as well and found support in my message.

  5. Reply
    Tiffany
    September 24, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Great Post!
    I love everything behind the idea of creativity. Just letting yourself go and creating something unique out of nothing. I always have the urge to learn a new creative ability just because I feel I can never create enough.

    Tiffany-
    http://Simplybeinggreat.net

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 24, 2015 at 11:54 am

      I love hearing your ambition to learn new creative abilities. That takes a lot of courage, time, and patience.

  6. Reply
    amanda
    September 24, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Brown has said, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”
    Love that quote, and yes, it is worth it, most of the time 😉

  7. Reply
    Tenacious Little Terrier
    September 24, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    I like tinkering with making things but sharing them is a whole other story!

  8. Reply
    Jen
    September 24, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Oh my, this is the story of my life! As a graphic designer, I’ve learned that judgment and scrutiny of my work is part of the job, and it’s a very vulnerable place to be. But in order to grow and succeed, it’s essential to step out of your comfort zone. So keep on creating!!! 🙂

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 24, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      That would definitely be a hard place to be in when your creative work is for someone else with their own vision and ideas as well. Good for you for having the courage to put it out there again and again!

  9. Reply
    Kirsten @ Treat Yourself Sweeter
    September 24, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Creativity allows people to open up and expose their inner most thoughts… it can be challenging for some, especially to then show others. I think creativity can help people in so many ways… great prompting post 🙂

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 24, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Yes, that’s true about the inner most thoughts. There are definitely pieces of my poetry that I have never shared with anyone and probably never will. I just think it’s important not to be completely closed off to the idea of sharing.

  10. Reply
    Carla A
    September 24, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    I love to sew, but I always use a pattern. So the only thing I’m really desining myself is the color scheme, but creating feels amazing!

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 24, 2015 at 8:25 pm

      That definitely counts! Sewing is something I wish I were better at.

  11. Reply
    Zoe
    September 24, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Love your post!
    Vulnerability is crucial to creativity!
    It makes you feel alive too!
    Really enjoyed this- and live the poem 🙂

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 24, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      You’re so right. I’d say that it’s one way you can tell that you’re truly living. Thank you!

  12. Reply
    Reelika @Financially Wise On Heels
    September 24, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Very thoughtful and great thoughts. I do believe that many great works come from personal experience (mostly some not so good experience). Vulnerability definitely affects creativity in positive way.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 24, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      That’s true for sure. Some of the most meaningful and beautiful art comes from dark places.

  13. Reply
    Bryce Rae
    September 25, 2015 at 12:21 am

    I recently wrote a blog post about embarrassment. Some of the things you mentioned made me think of this. There is no need to worry about what others think of your creativity. There is just one person to think about really and that is yourself.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 25, 2015 at 10:45 am

      Embarrassment can definitely be related to shame or a fear of sharing. I agree about focusing on your own view of your creativity.

  14. Reply
    Melody
    September 25, 2015 at 3:55 am

    I surround myself by numerous of creative people (i got really lucky)and I also run a blogging workshop class and most not all are shy about their creative abilities but i belive the ability to create is embedded in human DNA whether is amazing or not everyone is powerful to do better and become the best version of yourself.I strongly believe in this powerful post.

    sheismelrose.net

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 25, 2015 at 10:47 am

      I’m with you on the ability to create being in our DNA. Creativity comes in a multitude of different forms, so everyone can find something. That’s awesome that you’ve got yourself surrounded by creative people, what inspiration.

  15. Reply
    April G
    September 25, 2015 at 4:37 am

    I am trying to be more creative. I have to get out of my head, which has me stumped how to break through in five minute increments.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 25, 2015 at 10:47 am

      Good point! Getting stuck overthinking things can certainly limit the creative process. Try to give yourself permission to be free and explore without judgement.

  16. Reply
    Jebbica
    September 25, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Oh, I love that Grace Furman poem! It just reminds me how great words and the English language can be. So many words get lost or buried. I need to make a point to diversify my vocabulary. Thanks for sharing! May you never lose your creativity!

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 25, 2015 at 10:50 am

      I wrote that poem, so I very graciously thank you! Even after all of the benefits I talked about, it was still scary to post. Words are definitely amazing.

  17. Reply
    Jacqulyn Munns
    September 25, 2015 at 10:54 am

    I can see how this fear has limited what I have achieved in my life. I have had many opportunities for a creative career and have always held back. I have never fully given myself the opportunity to give my creative side a real chance. I have opted for the safer, more secure choices that are less likely to be criticized or result in failure.

    I remember when I was in school. I was encouraged by many to take chorus. I was told I had a great voice. The first time I went to a aschool that offered it, I did. I was in 7th grade. I transfered into the school in the middle of the year. I did not know anyone. the first class the teachers calls me up in front of everyone and asks me what my range is. I had no idea what that meant. She then asked are you a soprano or an alto. Still I had no clue. Then she told me to sing, sing anything. I just stood there. There was no way I could sing in front of all these kids and this teacher when they clearly knew I had no idea what I was doing. Finally, she decalred I was a Soprano and sent me off to sit with that section. I somehow made it through that class and barley passed because I refused to audition for any solos and I did not know how to read music. I never took another chorus class in my life. I still love to sing (much to the chagrin of my kids) and I do so loudly in the car.

    So bravo to you for taking a chance. I really enjoyed your poem. if you enjoyed writing it you should definelty do it more often.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 25, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Aw! I feel so sad when I hear about (or think about my own) experiences of children being made to feel less-than by their teachers or others who have authority over them. I am glad, however, to hear that you have not let it kill your enjoyment of singing. Keep singing and keep creating. 🙂

  18. Reply
    Anne @simpleandsavory
    September 25, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Great Post. Everyone has a creative side, we just have to find ours. I love to cook – that is my creative side when I’m cooking I’m happy!

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 25, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      Love it. Cooking is something many people wouldn’t immediately think of as creative, but thinking of and combining different ingredients in different ways uses so much creativity.

  19. Reply
    Shashi at RunninSrilankan
    September 26, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Awesome post!
    I sometimes think that sharing your creative side can be hard if it is completely opposite to what people know us for. I went to art school and am a graphic designer so sharing my creativity isn’t as hard for me because I think that’s whats expected.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 26, 2015 at 7:51 am

      Interesting point. I hadn’t thought about that before, but it does make sense.

  20. Reply
    Pam
    September 26, 2015 at 9:33 am

    I have never felt like a very creative person. I am surrounded by people that sing and paint and knit and do crafts…me not so much. I guess my creative juices are spent on my website and at times that feels more like a chore than anything else. I love your poem!

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 26, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      Creativity is definitely something we have to intentionally take time to cultivate. And working on a website is definitely creative work as well. Thanks!

  21. Reply
    Val
    September 26, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    I love to cook and bake. That for the last 10 years has been my art. I was really into scrapbooking and then stopped making time for it. At the beginning of summer I bought all the supplies to get back into painting but life just got too crazy.

    I grew up with an artsy Dad so I don’t have the fear you talked about. HOWEVER, I do belittle my work before anyone can even comment on it. I have been working on that. I’ve also been working on taking compliments with a simple thank you. That’s tough!

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 26, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      That’s awesome you’ve got so many creative outlets. Oooh, good point about belittling work and not accepting compliments. Just simply saying thank you is something I’ve been working on as well.

  22. Reply
    Kelsie
    September 27, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Love this! I’ve heard great things about the book. May have to check it out. I can totally see how vulnerability isn’t optional in this case.

  23. Reply
    Jessica Lane Massingill
    September 28, 2015 at 2:12 am

    Daring Greatly is one of my all time favorite books. I am enjoying reading your blog posts 🙂

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 28, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      It’s one of my favourites as well. Have you read Rising Strong yet? It’s so great too! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog.

  24. Reply
    Pam McCormick
    September 28, 2015 at 5:40 am

    I think that that vulnerability we experience is how we truly learn about ourselves. Expression no matter how it is viewed by others, is creativity at is finest because it comes from that place. As Dancer and Choreographer you people to FEEL something (good or bad) because “no reaction” is even worse! 🙂 Great post!!

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 28, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      Great insight. I love what you said about how having no reaction is worse than feeling something even if it’s perceived as bad. So true.

  25. Reply
    Rachel
    September 28, 2015 at 11:51 am

    As a blogger, I find my words to be vulnerable to criticism. I have learned over the years that constructive criticism is helpful, and all the rest well I just have to let it go. Sometimes I can use my emotions to fuel my writing. I believe our emotions and creativity are inter-related.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 28, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      Love what you said about just letting go of the unhelpful criticism, and using emotions to fuel your writing is even better.

  26. Reply
    Jere'
    September 28, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    This post came at a perfect time for me. My daughter is an incredible writer and has written several stories, she has been awarded in college for her papers and she is teaching writing, however, she is afraid to let anyone read her work, except the professors and me. There are so many talented people who just need a push. I will be sharing this with her.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 28, 2015 at 7:01 pm

      I love when I read something at just the right time. That’s exciting for your daughter, I hope she can find the courage to share her work with others.

  27. Reply
    Caitlin
    September 28, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    What a beautiful post! Creativity is absolutely so vulnerable and so sharing with the world takes great courage. I remember as a kid thinking I was bad at art because mine did look as good as the teacher’s…I was too scared for my creation to not be perfect that I wasn’t able to relax enough to be able to truly create. So today I believe the courage creativity takes is worth celebrating on it’s own, no matter who else may deem it a success or not.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 28, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      Your experience as a child is what so many people have as well, and so many of us let it stop us from creating. I love what you said about celebrating creativity for creativity’s sake.

  28. Reply
    Dena
    September 29, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Wow! What an insight you’ve offered. Sometimes, things just click and open up new thoughts in a new way. This is one of those posts. I sincerely appreciate your vulnerability in putting this out there.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 29, 2015 at 8:54 am

      Aw, that means so much for me to hear. I’m so glad this impacted you in a positive way.

  29. Reply
    Karen
    September 29, 2015 at 8:20 am

    I can definitely relate, the struggle is real! It can be so hard to put yourself out there and show that vulnerability, but I’ve found it is often worth it 🙂

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 29, 2015 at 8:57 am

      I’m so glad you’re brave enough to take the risk!

  30. Reply
    Kimberly Gauthier
    September 29, 2015 at 8:36 am

    I find that when I’m vulnerable, I create my best work. It can be hard, because I’m putting myself out there and opening myself up to criticism that I’m not prepared to hear.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 29, 2015 at 8:58 am

      What an insight. I’d say the same thing about creating the best work when vulnerable. How interesting!

  31. Reply
    April Ockerman
    September 29, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    I am not an overly creative person, but I love how blogging has almost forced me in a way to tap in to ccreativity that I didn’t know that I had inside of me.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 29, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      That’s awesome. I really do believe that everyone is creative, it’s just about finding and cultivating it.

  32. Reply
    Angela
    September 29, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    I like this article because I didn’t know that I share a lot of these sentiments as well. It is nice to find out what my next step is. Thank you!

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 29, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      So happy you connected with it. 🙂

  33. Reply
    karissa
    September 29, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    This is a great post. I’m a big fan of Brene Brown,

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 29, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      Me too! Definitely check out Rising Strong if you haven’t yet.

  34. Reply
    Lana
    September 29, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    One of the best posts I’ve read in a while, it felt like you know me, and were taking just to me! Thank you for the encouragement,

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 29, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      Aw, thank you! That means so much to me. I’m so glad to hear you connected with it. 🙂

  35. Reply
    The Levantess
    September 29, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    Yes, it is worth it. I don’t have to share my creations with anyone, just the fact of working on something new and original is a form of brainstorming that feeds the other parts of my life and work.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 29, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      Awesome!

  36. Reply
    Jill
    September 29, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    Great post! That is so true how creativity can be squashed just by a comment you hear when you are growing up… I wonder what I “might have been” if I didn’t hear some of the negative comments that I was told as a kid..

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 29, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      Definitely. I’ve felt the same way often. The only thing we can do now though is make sure we talk to ourselves differently. And any little ones we come in contact with.

  37. Reply
    Aimee
    September 29, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    It is so difficult to overcome our fears of rejection & allow ourselves to be vulnerable throught the creative process. I wholeheartedly agree with your statement, “Sharing our creativity opens up the opportunity to fail or be judged.”

    When we do allow ourselves to be vulnerable though, it not only allows us to grow in the creative process, but also connect with others in a deeper manner.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 29, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      Exactly!

  38. Reply
    Maria Magdalena
    September 29, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Thank you for writing this article. It sounding my thought 🙂

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 29, 2015 at 9:30 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  39. Reply
    Sam Sly
    September 29, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    So true! I don’t feel vulnerable if creating just for myself and family. I feel the vulnerability when sharing with others whether during a public performance, blog post or even a meal at a dinner party. I use to find the feat of being vulnerable paralyzing. But now less and less so.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 30, 2015 at 8:44 am

      That’s so encouraging. Keep up the courageousness!

  40. Reply
    Lindi Mogale
    September 30, 2015 at 7:40 am

    This made me think about how i can encourage creativity in my children, and counter any shame they might feel because of the comments of others. definitely something i have to think about

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 30, 2015 at 8:45 am

      That is a fantastic takeaway too.

  41. Reply
    Debbie Thompson
    September 30, 2015 at 11:09 am

    I never thought of it that way but how true. Creativity exposes what’s inside of us and because the “quality” of it is in the eye of the beholder, it’s so vulnerable putting it out there. I’m just starting to blog and I’m struggling with staying authentic because that’s so much more vulnerable… Unfortunately our work isn’t always safe in every other person’s hands and we do have to decide if it’s worth sharing publicly. I agree that if those gifts are inside of us they need to be expressed. We just need to think about whom to share them with and also be secure enough that we don’t depend on everyone else’s approval in order to deem it awesome 🙂

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 30, 2015 at 11:32 am

      I wrote in another post 4 Myths About Vulnerability how vulnerability is not sharing everything with everyone which I think speaks to what you’ve mentioned regarding thinking about whom we share with. As you said, being secure in oneself is vital as well.

  42. Reply
    Malorie
    September 30, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    I can totally relate to this. I’ve struggled a ton about how much I should share about myself & have finally found a happy balance:)

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 30, 2015 at 3:09 pm

      That’s great to hear! Striking a balance can certainly be a challenge.

  43. Reply
    Ayana Pitterson
    September 30, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    A+ for this post! I often wonder about this as I tend to think of myself as super creative and with that a fear of simply opening up and letting the world see the true me. I think it’s easier to just fall back and go with the status quo than be different and expose yourself to criticism. I wonder where along the path as kids we lose that trust in our own creativity and start to fear the results. Thanks for sharing this.

    thrifting diva
    http://www.thriftingdiva.com

    1. Reply
      Grace
      September 30, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      Thank you! I wish you the courage to continue to open up and let the world see the true you.

  44. Reply
    Adrienne
    October 1, 2015 at 12:28 am

    So true! Being creative, for me, makes me super vulnerable. To answer your question, I participate creatively by writing. I’m almost done writing book #2 and it will be published soon. Even though I’ve published before, I am nervous about this second title. Why? Who knows! Thank you for sharing your poem and allowing the vulnerability of your creativity shine through to us, your readers! Will be visiting again soon. ~Adrienne

    1. Reply
      Grace
      October 1, 2015 at 8:12 am

      How exciting! Congratulations on publishing two books, that’s incredible.

  45. Reply
    Jill
    October 1, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Hi Grace! I love Brene Brown and your post, as well as the idea and practice of choosing vulnerability! It’s taken me to some very cool, if sometimes scary, places. Thanks for a great post! And yes, it’s worth it!!

    1. Reply
      Grace
      October 1, 2015 at 7:27 pm

      Yes, it’s certainly scary, but I’m glad to hear it’s been worth it to you. Keep on being courageous!

  46. […]  Is the Vulnerability of Creativity worth it? from Heartful Habits  […]

  47. Reply
    Brenda
    November 13, 2015 at 7:04 am

    Thank you. Creating for me is also about the process or journey. The time spent writing, painting or whatever your medium is. To have that stillness and be in the moment. It is not about the end game or even the piece. What can I take away from this time of creating whether or not the piece of work is worthy of showing I always enjoy the journey there.

    1. Reply
      Grace
      November 13, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      Wow, what a great mindset! Have you read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert? I just finished it this week, and what you said really reminded me of her message as well. You might enjoy it too.

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