Creativity vs. Productivity

Inner Turmoil by Britanny Treaster

Inner Turmoil by Britanny Treaster

I know right. Sounds a little oxymoronic. It sounds a little bit like a unicorn. Probably beautiful to look at, possibly a little strange with all the colors and the horn on it’s head, but pretty cool nonetheless.

Artists prefer chaos. They prefer the almost cliché nature of their own procrastination. It’s exciting to “stick it to the man” and miss deadlines for the sake of beauty. The end result will always justify the means necessary to create.

I’ve read a few books that describe such a reality and have seen enough movies with the classic artist character to know that there is truth embedded in this genre of person.

I, however, find myself conflicted.

There is a part of me that enjoys the disheveled, unkempt and mysterious nature of an artist. A part of me longs for an attitude that neglects everything aside from the art. This part of me sees the freedom to express and to emote as an utmost priority and a prize to be won and sought after. A section of my soul longs for the spontaneous. The unattached. The inspired. It breathes in possibility and exhales hope. This part of me is intentionally unintentional and for good reason. The magic of creativity happens here. Right?

There is another part of me. This part craves order. Systems and process that bring about some semblance of put-togetherness and wraps things nicely into a bow. This part of me predicts outcomes into the future and makes informed decisions that mitigate risk. This part of me understands that everyone operates and functions with a higher efficiency when workflows are organized and communication is threaded with clarity. This part of my soul works harder and smarter and better because it is driven by an insatiable hunger for progress and movement. It leaves no stone unturned and allows no room for error. It demands of me more than I could ever give it, which, in turn, makes me want it even more.

These worlds exist inside of me and, as you can imagine, war with one another. They often wreak havoc internally and occasionally manifest themselves externally. But on a good day, I can sit at the table with both of them.

I give myself permission to have strokes of creativity that need attention with a sense of urgency while placing that creativity into a workflow for follow up. I use the disciplined part of me to help set the creative part of me up for success. On a good day I engage with both sides as partners, not enemies.

The more I plunge to the center of myself I see segmented realities vying for attention and exposure. They want out. They want to be set loose. Unfortunately they have little regard for me as a whole person, or maybe even more importantly for others.

I say all of this not only to let you in on a little bit of my journey and who I am, but to acknowledge and give space for conflicted internal interests. We all deal with some level of internal conflict. Pixar just made a bunch of money connecting with this internal conflict in their most recent blockbuster Inside Out. They gave faces and feelings and emotions to the internal players in our lives. They gave a narrative to what happens internally for all of us, and we ate it up.

Most of us have a hard time recognizing and separating this internal conflict into relatable parts. It all happens so fast. Life moves at a million miles an hour and we really just feel like we don’t have the time to sit down and have open and honest conversations with ourselves.

If I can connect something for you, it would be this; until you begin to understand who you are internally, you will repeatedly and frustratingly live someone else’s life externally. You will live the life that someone else tells you you should live. You will live a life that is a byproduct of your past. You will take orders from the outside. I’m not saying that external is bad and internal is good. But I am saying that if you don’t begin with the internal, you will never enjoy being yourself.

I painstakingly make statements like this because I have experienced it in my own life. I am beginning to understand who I am more and more these days and I have no other option than to share it. I think everyone deserves a chance at getting to know themselves in a deep and meaningful way and if I can share my journey to help you share yours, then it’s a good day.

Austin Smith

Charlotte, NC, USA