“I wish I could paint like you do.”
Women say this to me all the time after they see my vivid, abstract paintings. They say they’d love to have a creative outlet, but they just don’t have it in them.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: a few years ago, if you would have asked me if I’d not only start painting but actually sell my artwork and turn the patterns into designs for yoga pants, I would have told you, “No way. I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”
But contrary to what online business profile quizzes might tell you, creativity isn’t something you have or you don’t have. We’re all born creative—we just have to allow ourselves the freedom and the confidence to let it out. Whether it’s throwing pottery or coming up with your brand’s latest marketing campaign, we are all able to engage in creativity—you just have to step up and try.
The first time I painted, I was coming up to the anniversary of my dad’s death, around Valentine’s Day. I was in a new relationship, and I didn’t want the sadness or the fear I still felt from my father’s passing to control me. I wanted to find a way to open up, but when my friend, an artist, invited me over to her house to paint, I at first resisted.
“Robin, just come paint with me,” she said.
“I don’t have one creative bone in my body,” I replied.
“Just come over, and pick up a canvas and a few brushes.”
Four hours later, I stood in her studio, paint on my hands, the smell of acrylic in the air, staring at the painting I just created. I’d done what my friend had said, picked up a large canvas and some brushes, and showed up at her house, ready to try something new. As I studied my painting, and all I could think was, “Oh my gosh, where did this come from?”
It wasn’t until later that I realized that the ability to create had been inside me the whole time, I just had to give myself the freedom to release it—which meant ignoring the fear of “doing it wrong” and failing.
As I said before, creativity doesn’t just have to apply to artwork. A friend of mine had always worked for large tech companies, but she recently started doing interior design work on the side. As she gained attention for her designs, she gained confidence that not only improved her creative side gig, but also boosted her in her tech job. She started speaking up in meetings more, sharing her ideas—she even cut her hair and started using her clothes as a form of self-expression—and eventually, she moved to a position at one of the most recognizable tech companies in the country.
It’s amazing what we can do when we give ourselves freedom to express ourselves. @RobinEmmerich (Click to Tweet!)
And when we have the confidence not to worry about getting our hands messy and coloring outside the lines as we create something great. What amazing gifts are you hiding inside yourself, for fear of failing if you let them out?
Robin Emmerich has spent close to a decade coaching some of the most successful women in business. Even with their considerable success, the common denominator is that as much as they seemed to be cruising through life on the outside, they were melting on the inside. It’s why Robin created Beauty and the Mess—an athleisure brand launching Spring 2017—in support of a sisterhood who understands that life is messy and difficult and challenging, but together, can find the strength to prioritize passion over perfection and fearlessly seek beauty in their everyday lives. Connect with Robin at robinemmerich.com or on Instagram.