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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Maker's Space: There's no such thing as a creative type

The other day, I was watching a furniture-making video that was thematically centered around creativity, specifically upon the distinction between creative and uncreative ‘types.’ In the video, the creator argued that though he himself did not feel like a creative type, he could still experiment and explore within his craft and eventually make something artistic and beautiful. Later, while on break (hallelujah!), I heard a family member lament the fact that she was not — and had never been — creative.

I, for one, think that’s ridiculous. I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a creative type. We are all creative; it is what makes humans so resourceful, after all. People tend to look at creativity as a skill, and in some ways, I get that. For instance, it must be worked at and honed. If you aren’t given the chance to express yourself freely, especially at a young age, you may end up uncomfortable within that realm.

Even still, many people exercise creativity without even realizing it. While it’s often connected to the arts, creativity is not limited by tangible products. You can think creatively, love creatively, live creatively. Creativity brought us computers, solves mathematical equations, and creates new tastes and new sights. Even creative personal hygiene practices have the capacity to make many new and interesting smells — I know, I live with five male roommates.

The late psychologistMihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who wrote “Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention,” defines creativity as more than just a type of person or a skill to learn. Here’s his well-known quote:

 Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives. … Most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity ... [and] when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.”

Thus, creativity is less a skill and more a way of thinking and of experiencing life within the cosmos. Maybe you don’t make furniture or music or art like I do, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t creative. Cooking is creative if you depart from the recipe. Movement (dance, athletics, etc.) is creative. Innovation is creative in whatever field it is used. Sure, not everyone has the desire or the talent to make a beautiful painting, but every human does have the ability to be creative and exercise that ability often. 

And that’s a good thing! We tend to create problems just about as fast as we can solve them. Creativity helped us to survive natural predators, climate and disease, and it's necessary for our increasingly uncertain future. If you’re one of those people lamenting your lack of a creative spirit, stop. It would be a more worthwhile endeavor to figure out what makes you excited, angry, passionate and fired up. Your creative outlet is probably in there somewhere, just waiting to be fostered.