Ask anyone this month, “What does ‘independence’ mean to you?” and you will probably get a reply peppered with words like, ‘freedom’ and ‘pride’. The odds are, the people you ask will assume that you are seeking their opinions on our national independence (Woot! Woot! Wave flag here). But, since we are in a creative zone over in this blog, let me ask you: what does independence mean to YOU?
As The Bahamas celebrates 41 years of independence as a nation, why not take the next few days to reflect on the areas in your own life? When you take a stand and declare your own independence, you'll open the doors to expanding your creative freedom.
In the broadest sense, we can all agree that independence means freedom. Freedom! When you declare your independence, you proclaim to others that you are no longer bound to the rules, restrictions and expectations of Someone Else. In your newfound state of freedom (yay!) you feel a sense of lightness that is difficult to explain because The Joy of Possibility is as elusive as a fish released back into the ocean.
Are you listening to YOU?
Usually, a public declaration of independence comes a while after we have acknowledged within ourselves that we feel bound and restricted in some way and that we are missing out on some important inner needs. Do yourself a favour and listen to your inner voice on this one. This might be presenting itself to you as an increasing sense of resentment towards someone or some activity. The odds are, that person or thing is not the problem. The problem is that you are neglecting something that you want/need to do for yourself. Make time to identify what that ‘something’ is and then prioritize your time to accommodate it. Even carving out a little time on a regular basis to pursue that creative calling will bring a sense of calm and serve to dissipate that prior resentment.
Pick, choose, and refuse!
Why not declare independence from a bad habit that you’ve been hanging on to? They come in all shapes and sizes, but the bottom line is we all have them. Pick one and and commit to 30 days in which you will form a new good habit to replace it. Do you buy fast food for lunch every day? How about packing lunch for the next 30 days instead? Pick the bad habit, choose to replace it with a new good habit, and refuse to break your promise to yourself for just 30 days. Yes, it takes some planning, but it will soon become second nature.
Sometimes at a certain point in our creative development, we rely on the approval of others as a source of encouragement. You want to stop doing that. The problem is, most of the time, the approval we seek is from the person we want it from the MOST but who is the least equipped to give it to us. You know, that person who you love dearly but is super-critical of you? Well, they have their own issues. Put aside your need to hear encouragement from them, and give yourself permission to proceed as your own best fan. Note: I said ‘fan’ not ‘critic’. Let your ideas flow freely.
Don’t be so “judgy”
That was a word I learned from a 13-year-old. And I fell in love with it. Stop being so hard on yourself! Yes, we all have an ideal as to what is ‘the best’ work. But if you’re learning how to sew, is it fair to compare yourself to Givenchy? No! By all means, admire the work of creatives who you feel have mastered their craft. Yes, set your goal high to improve your own skills, but do not venture into the quicksand of comparison. You will get bogged down in comparison paralysis and will most likely give up your creative pursuits in despair. The takeaway lesson: appreciate the work of others without comparison.
Yes, independence means ‘freedom’ but we can all agree, the most satisfying freedom comes served in a container called ‘responsibility’. When you take responsibility for charting your own creative expression and fostering a mindset – in your own head – that encourages the open expression of your creative side, then you will be ready to wave your own creative flag! Woot! Woot! Wave flag here!