Posted by: Natalie | March 3, 2010

The Nature of the Beast

I believe I am a creative person. How is this developed? How do we separate ourselves from those who prefer numbers and statistics? What is it in us that makes us yearn for language, art and the seemingly ‘lighter’ side of life? Is it innate? Nurtured? Or some twisted hand of fate that brings us here?

It could inevitably be a combination of all these things. There are people who believe it is potentially linked to the zodiac. All star signs have characteristics and proclaim that our destinies, our careers and lives are mapped out accordingly. Being a Sagittarius I am deemed to be fiery, charismatic and creative, thus propelling me into a driven career that embodies creativity; primary teaching or writing for example. But this is bobbins! I don’ believe a star sign can plan out a path for you, or define you to a role for your life. I’m not convinced that there is anything fundamentally innate in our personalities that makes us destined to adopt specific attributes.

I am a big believer in the nurture argument for almost all our successes and failings as adults. The things you experience in your formative years, and throughout childhood, are clear markers to who we become. We can look at the simplest of reasons, gender. Now, this is probably going to include some huge sweeping generalisations, but lets be honest, stereotypes are there for a reason. When parents discover they are having a little girl they fill their lives with fairytales, dolls and all things pink (for my cousin’s little girl, one of her first words was ‘pink’). Boys receive toy trucks, action figures and often non-fiction based activities; science, history etc. The nature of these environments is almost always going to set a precedent. Girls are forced into a make believe world where they play act in tiny kitchens; wash and clothe scary dolls (I find them a little freaky); are dressed like the princesses of their fairy stories; whereas boys, as much as they can make believe as well as the girls, tend to have their games and experiences rooted in fact and ‘traditionalist’ roles of men – firemen, policemen, soldiers.

Does it therefore follow that boys become less creative? Does the masculine stereotype rob them of the more ‘flowery’ aspirations of many girls?  I think to some extent it can do. But why then, am I an exception to the rule?

Yes I wanted to be a princess, yes I had dresses and yes my favourite play thing in reception was the wendy house. But as I grew older I was not a typical girl in all respects. My house was very male dominated, full of football and noise. When I played games with my brother, it would usually involve using all his He-man, Transformer and Star Wars action figures and filling my dolls house with those – as already pointed out, dolls are not my favourite thing, I am always scared they will come to life at night, and no, I have never seen Chucky! I would go to the football games with my Dad and very rarely wear dresses and other girly outfits (unless it was a party, then my mum would make me something fancy!).  I loved going to my Grandad’s farm and playing in the barn and in the orchard. I wasn’t a huge fan of spending all my time with girls, I’m still not.

I also have to admit that my main reason for taking art at GCSE was because I fancied a boy who was going to be in that class, not some great creative need! I liked science, history and languages (not so much maths) but gradually shed each one of these in favour of the more creative. I became a Primary School teacher as opposed to a history teacher because I wanted to ‘play’ with paint and sticky-back plastic and despite my never liking Blue Peter I developed a great urge to say, “And here’s one I made earlier.” Was I always going to turn out like this?

I think yes. But not due to any of the nature/nurture debate. Not because some ancient nut-case developed a celestial format from which to define all human beings. Not because I was forced to interact with other girls. But maybe, maybe, because I am slightly unhinged and horribly emotional at times, a ‘skill’ definitely developed through my high school years!

I have quite extreme emotions, not to the point of needing psychiatric intervention, but enough to fuel my passions. Such highs and lows which battle between my ego and my insecurities, which I have to say, mostly seem to air on the negative. Bitter and twisted, warped feelings lurk in my shadows while a naive, hopeful, optimism radiates from my brighter side. And on occasions, the two sides clash, making for some unexpected fireworks!  It is these two sides of the coin that keep me motivated, that make me want to put words on paper, that make me want to draw, to make me (warning: I am about to use a horrible, cringey cliché) want to ‘express myself’. If I can’t get them out of my head and my heart, I actually feel like I might explode. There is too much to contain, too many contrasts and confusions, unless I can pour them out the men in white coats will indeed be coming for me.

It could be said, and probably will, that this unsteady sea-saw of my fascinating being, is due to the my experiences as a child. Without a doubt! So why not use it? Why let it eat away at you undo all the positives in your life? So I did. I started to vent. I learnt to draw, to paint, to write, to stick things with PVA glue. Creativity was an outlet. It helped steady and control those emotions that I just couldn’t handle. And I think that’s when teaching got too much for me; when the creative aspect was stifled and replaced with statistics and targets and paperwork and bureaucracy. My venting turned into crying; a LOT.

So these days I am a much more level human being. I have the opportunity to use all the conflicts in my life to my advantage, to use them to help me write – the highs and the lows. I feel much more serene than I think I have ever done in my life, it makes a change. It feels good. It feels right.

But what will happen when the creativity dries up? My life source, the thing that I love so much depends sorely on all the negative fighting against the positive! There are only so many times you can flog a dead horse, and all that will remain are these experiences of peace and not throwing things. Oh, no, hang on, wait. Its all good – I was forgetting that I have months worth of rejection ahead of me! Good. Nothing lights the fire of self doubt and loathing like a good old slap in the face! I’m so excited! I can’t wait!!



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