Who Gets to Call Themselves "A Creative"?

The last few weeks have been one of the best experiences of my life (you know this if you follow me on Instagram, get my emails or read my last blog post: I’m pausing to acknowledge how grateful and happy I am. Two weeks in Eurpoe was an absolute dream, and I’ve never felt more fortunate to have this opportunity to see the world (and get to practice my language skills!)

International travel has taught me valuable lessons about life: to truly enjoy and appreciate it, you have to relinquish control and just be open to whatever unfolds. Things happen: flights get cancelled; bad weather ruins outdoor plans; people get sick. I’ve found that it’s best to just plan for your plans to crash at some point — and that’s when it’s time to get creative.

I treated the Eurotrip as one long creative date: an opportunity to immerse myself in my environment and stretch my brain for a good amount of time. I’d heard about the concept from a friend who’s also self-employed in a creative industry: a creative could be going out to a movie by yourself, taking a walk, enjoying a meal, carving out time to read a book, or any soli activity to draw inspiration and refuel your creative tank.

Despite the fact that I now work in a creative field full-time, I still hesitate to call myself “a creative”. It may just take time for my mind to fully rewire itself after being a corporate employee for 15 years, but owning my life as a creative still feels new.. “I’m just not creative!” is a refrain I’ve heard from coworkers in every industry, usually when a task involved self-expression or some degree of subjective interpretation. Everyone is creative in their own way, though it’s a label some are reticent to embrace.

My husband and I joke that, within the context of our marriage, I’m the PowerPoint and he’s the Excel, meaning that I’m the extroverted, expressive type, whereas he’s more inclined to keep his head buried in lines of code for hours. Both skillsets are useful and valuable, and we complement each other well. He’s creative in ways I’m not, and vice versa. But “creative” isn’t always used as a positive descriptor, especially from well-meaning parents who want financial success for college-age kids.

I chose Spanish as my undergrad major because I saw it as a blend of business and pleasure. “Pick something practical!” was the prevailing advice I’d gotten, and I genuinely loved language learning. I figured I could apply language skills to any industry and differentiate myself in the employment market, which is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in life (thanks, uncharacteristically-clear-headed-early-20s-Liz!)

Doors open when you cultivate a skill: I probably wouldn’t be in Austin if I didn’t speak Spanish. Focusing on languages helped me get creative in my career: because there’s no clear path forward, it forced me to try different things, find what I enjoyed, and get entrepreneurial with my work life.

So who gets to call themselves a creative? Anyone and everyone: from spreadsheets to speech writing, we all have a creative streak. The real question is, how do you tap into your own brand of creativity to build a life you love?

(The image for this post is me in Amsterdam, walking along the streets and finding random treasures. Of all the places we visited on our European vacation, Amsterdam was my favorite!)