So first, before we go any further, let me just say that the woman in question still holds the title of “best friend” in my world. It is a true BFF kind of love that we share. Just so you know.
Now let me take you back…
… to those early but oh so formative years. We were 12 when we realized that we were meant for each other. Long talks. Endless giggles. Fabulous sleepovers with make-up and big sisters (hers). Summers would pass and our parents would tease us that we never spent a day apart.
Despite our perfect fit as friends, we were very different. I was a bookworm, the studious type. She was at her best with a pencil or paintbrush in hand. When we got into highschool the differences became all the more obvious as she walked off to special art classes and I carried on to my advanced Math and English classes.
In our own ways we each excelled.
But the message I received was that I was not an artist. Compared to my brilliant bestie (who is now a top interior designer) I thought I couldn’t DO art. After the grade 9 required class I never step foot in the art room again unless it was to see one of her masterpieces.
I’m not sure if she felt the same impact from the praise I received for but I know she wasn’t signing up for any extra opportunities in the academic world.
We were pushed into our separate corners of achievement.
As tends to happen in the traditional education system…
And I learned I wasn’t an artist. I didn’t have the eye, or the genes or the determination. I didn’t have the talent.
Instead I scribbled poetry late into the night. Never left my house without a journal. Aced math tests.
As years went on this changed how I saw myself. I would no longer pick out a paint colour for a room without asking her input. Coloured pencils, paints and pastels disappeared from my world.
Yes, I considered myself a writer but not “creative”. In my mind you needed to have a breadth of skills to warrant the honoured label of creative and I considered myself lacking in that respect. And, making it all the more extreme, for many years I kept my writing tucked away in journals while I pursued other, more academic paths.
And then a few weeks ago I painted.
Other than some playful and messy afternoons with my kids, it had been years…. maybe a decade…. maybe more…. since I chose to paint for myself. To allow my creativity to dance around the canvas, expressing my emotions, my dreams, my desires in colour.
There, with the paint at the end of my brush, I experienced a joy I had forgotten. My heart warmed. My creative fire brightened. And I came to the knowing that we are all truly creative.
We can all paint. We can all draw. We can all write.
High school class choices and teacher praise mean nothing. Every single one of us has the ability to create in the exact way we are meant to. Despite the separate corners we were once pushed into my darling BFF can conquer academic challenges and I can paint my own masterpieces.
And when I sent her the draft to this post she responded by telling me that she HAD felt it too. That she had been led to believe that she wasn’t very smart and didn’t have the academic ability to pursue a degree in architecture, the career she now knows she was made for.
The labels they apply to us mean nothing. They are artificial. They are subjective. They are false.
Looking at my BFF and I today one would have no idea how we were once classified. As she studies for daunting building code exams, passing with flying colours, I spend my days writing, exploring the process of creativity and teaching others to create in ways that inspire them.
Thank goodness we each had the courage to pivot.
Consider this your permission to pivot too.
To become anything you want to be.
And everything you’re meant to be.