We, as humans, often think about creativity as an ever-flowing waterfall of ideas and creations that have never graced the plain of existence before. This idea of creativity is an utter lie indoctrinated into us at an early age. When we were children, we naturally followed and loved things that were new, exciting, and interesting—perfectly displayed by the games we created for ourselves, the tales we told, and the inanimate objects that became our friends.
During our adolescence, we had this mindset beaten out of us by the wardens of our prison—a prison also known as the standard educational system. Then, as a cruel punchline to a lifelong joke, we exit our prison of thought and are forced to become mindlessly-educated adults told to admire the new, exciting, and interesting. Forgetting that we once were that creative in our childhood, we wonder how could anyone be that creative—that imaginative—that free in thought.
Before we knew what a circle was, we gave it meaning. It became a bee or a tire or a shield—whatever it needed to be. But after we’ve been educated to think a certain way, we no longer see its potential; all we see is a circle that should be completely and neatly filled in with a No. 2 pencil. The circle has no other purpose to us.
The fundamental problem of our system is that we are taught to regurgitate information rather than use it. Teachers are not asking for solutions for problems; they are asking for the answer they’ve already taught us. The waterfall of creativity has been damned so that we can become more productive and logical adults. Our reality is that this path of success so neatly laid out for us is simply baiting us. It is baiting us to change into a peg to fill the system’s holes.
Our problem is not the hole we are made to fill; it’s our view of creativity; and ultimately, our view of ourselves. We struggle to find purpose after our dreams are restrained to logical thinking. We are left staring at holes designed by society, trying to contort our bodies to fill them. We desire to think outside the box because those thoughts seem more fulfilling to us. After all, they’re new, exciting, and interesting. We think that beyond that box are the elusive and overflowing waters of creativity.
When will we realize that the problem is the solution?
We all desire problems. We are born to be problem solvers. We begin having to figure out how to walk and how to talk. Then, something beautiful happens: we try to solve the problem of boredom. We have so much energy and time yet almost no resources; thus we come up with some of our most creative ideas.
We must stop thinking of creativity as a waterfall and more as a well—a well that must be drawn from again and again. We should take these boxes that need filling and lower them into our well to fill them with creative solutions. Some days, the well is less full and harder to draw from, but we must draw anyway. Then, as we fill more and more boxes, we find purpose and challenge in filling bigger and bigger boxes.
This is our challenge: to stop trying to escape our box and dreaming of drowning in a creative overflow; and instead find a problem, take our boxes, and daily draw out what we need to make the world a more creative, beautiful place.
Creativity is not thinking outside the box; it’s filling it.