Don't let them take away your creativity!
Carl was on the wrong side of 40 when he decided it was time rediscover his creative spark. He had started his young life with a vivid imagination, spending many happy hours during playtime (recess for those in the US) pretending to be characters from the latest TV shows he had watched. Every time there was a school play or opportunity to perform, Carl was there. Front and center. He had a deep sense of wellbeing when he was performing for others. It made him happy inside and he was good at it.
As Carl moved into his adolescent years, things started to chip away at the veneer of this perfect world. Moving into High School, he found that some people were not quite as accepting of someone with such a joy for life and a creative imagination. People were mean and your status in the pecking order of teenage life became an uneasy focus for everyone. It suddenly became uncool to be part of the drama club or choir, and there were much more important things to do like play football or chase girls.
Carl’s love of music could not be destroyed though. It had played a huge part in his life. His parents always had music playing and were always happy during those times. He used to listen to the top 40 religiously, recording it on a tape to tape player. As time went on, he started to dabble in editing and recoded only the song, without the DJ’s voice. This led to immense frustration whenever he didn’t hit pause quick enough before the DJ spoke! That ruined his mix! This eventually led him to editing in his own voice as the DJ and imagining that he was presenting the show. Looking back on those times brought a huge sense of happiness to Carl.
After leaving High School and having most of the creativity knocked out of him, Carl found an outlet DJ-ing at his local bar. He put everything into making sure that the revelers who came to enjoy their night had the best time ever. It gave him a purpose. He found that entertaining others and helping them have a good night made him feel really, really good. Through this, he was discovered by the biggest nightclub in the country. They saw his passion. His ability to make people have a great time. They offered him the position of resident DJ at their most prestigious nightclub. Carl moved to the “big city” at the tender age of 18 without even thinking. It was everything he hoped for and more.
Carl was a diamond in the rough. He knew how to entertain but, as an 18-year-old prodigy, he had some skills to learn to take him to the next level. The nightclub owner, who had initially seen the spark in this young man, took him under his wing. He spent many hours teaching Carl the ways of the nightclub world and how to create an energy that would have the crowd in the palm of his hands. He was like the nightclub version of Mr. Miagi. A true master of knowing what the people wanted. Over the next few years, Carl started to understand the control he had and used it to become the most popular nightclub DJ in the country with people travelling over 300 miles to come and be entertained!
If you hadn’t guessed it by now, Carl is me. Hard to believe – I know! I didn’t consider myself special. I still don’t. In fact, I have never celebrated the story of what I achieved until now. I am a humble man and always thought that bragging about accomplishments was crass. The stiff upper British lip and all that kind of stuff. It didn’t fit with who I was at the time. But as I have started to understand how the human psyche works and the importance of appreciating your successes, I have started to realize that celebrating my success is important. It is important for us all. And in truth, it helps others understand that we all have the ability to succeed. We are all human and have the same fragility as everyone else. I nearly had the creativity knocked out of me by my High School experiences. Think about that. I nearly allowed the opinions of others to prevent me from going on to do something that gave me, and those I entertained a huge amount of pleasure. How frickin’ stupid is that?
The moral of the story? Be proud of your accomplishments. Understand that every single successful person, whether it is Tom Cruise or Meryl Streep, started off as an insecure human being with the same fears and doubts that we all had. Take the time to dig into their childhood and the difficulties they faced, and you may find some extraordinary parallels with your own life. If you have booked any creative gig in the last year, celebrate that fact. Someone thought you were good enough to pay money to do what you do. That is an amazing thing. And remember, we’re not at High School anymore. It’s more than OK to make a living in the creative world. And if you don’t believe me, take it from Carl - he is now a successful voice over actor and loving life!