Alannah is a recent graduate from the University of Wyoming with backgrounds in environmentalism, international studies, photography, and cooking. She is passionate about the many places her interests intersect and continuously finds value in deeper explorations into the connections weaving us and our environments together. Alannah is currently traveling the West Coast, exploring new places and herself. She hopes to share her journey, healing, questions and connections with readers here and beyond!
Lessons from Creativity
Creativity is a prized idea usually reserved to describe artists and their expensive fine art hung in frames on the wall. Part of this designation is an act of forgetting. We forget that we are inherently creative beings. We forget that our lives pivot on the axis of creation. From meals we make to spaces we design; from relationships we build to self improvement. The desire to create and build can be seen everywhere, not just in the hands of artists and artisans.
Tuning into whatever creative space you occupy is an invitation: it can hold great power and opportunities for growth. When we become aware of our desires to create, we become more aware of our driving forces and of how we truly want to exist within our environment. Creativity also forces us out into the physical realm and outside of our own heads, providing benefits for space, community, and especially mental health.
Creativity as a Tool for Mental Wellness
Personally, creativity has been one of my most reliable tools for assessing, exploring and understanding my mental health. I am a photographer by desire, forced into other artistry by the requirements of my photography minor. When I struggle and I engage in artistic endeavors, either by choice or for an assignment, I am always stunned by the power these explorations have to help me navigate the often inexplicable world of complex emotions and feelings associated with strained mental health.
While I also love writing, creating outside of words allows me to sit with questions being brought up within myself instead of searching for answers and directions. It allows me to be instead of to strive. Creativity meets me where I am. The processes of creation, whether I am in the kitchen or dark room, force me to be present and force me to dive into whatever I am thinking or feeling. In those moments, I exist outside of the pain I have come to know and am able to reframe my situation.
Creation: Of Art, Of Self
I have also come to know the power of creation as a process. When we are on a healing or self improvement journey it can be so frustrating to thirst for change and become impatient when it does not arrive within the first moments of the journey. In most of my artistic projects, my visions are never fully realized and I am instead guided down new paths and especially down paths that force me to further consider and reconstitute what I have already created. I continuously find beauty in the fragments and tension created by this work, by trusting the process instead of forcing an outcome, both in my art and my personal journey. Stepping outside of the lines and boundaries I constrain myself with in my work and my life forces me to discover the beauty of uncertainty.
Above all, art has exponentially helped my mental state and overall wellness by forcing me to come to terms with mistakes and imperfection. In life we so often expect to be perfect at everything as soon as we start. Perfection is also standard in any field we consider ourselves experts in; completely excluding the possibilities of beautiful imperfection. Through creating different kinds of art that I have virtually no training in, I found that sometimes the most compelling, healing processes I engage in are when I not only accept my mistakes, but further explore them. So often, the art I make is not what I want, in fact, I am only truly satisfied with my creations a fraction of the time. I always see how the focus or exposure in a photograph was just slightly off or how a word change in a poem would elevate it. I fixate on the one spice missing from a dish or jump right into how a different flavor would be better. This is a practice and lesson in humility.
Creation is a process. Creation is iterative. We are a process. We are iterative.
Power is found when the process of creating, whatever it may be, is embraced, mistakes, detours and all. Creativity can help us process our realities, capturing moments, exploring questions, recreating ourselves. When pursued bravely, creation can be revealing and humbling. It can hold space, allowing you to trust the process and escape your mind. It can help foster self expression and provide a roadmap to navigating the complexity of internal struggles. Creative can be an invaluable tool for wellness and the beauty is that this tool can take so many different forms for so many different goals.