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How Childhood Labels can Keep You from Experiencing Your Creative Side


Growing up, my parents were very encouraging of my sister’s and my talents. Early on, they saw what we did in our free time or on the sly at church. Soon, we were overhearing them say proudly, “Elida is the artist and Danielle is the writer.” We took those labels to heart and, in a sense, they were true. I do like to paint and she likes to write and so, naturally, I became an artist and she became a writer. But little did we know that those labels could be restrictive.

Did that mean that I wasn’t a writer? Or could Danielle not be an artist?

A few years ago, my sister finally came to one of my art retreats and I pushed her to paint. After smoothing over her insecurities and getting her to trust me (It’s hard for a big sister to take guidance from the little one), she actually painted quite well! And she really enjoyed creating in a new way.

And as I went through life doing my “art thing,” I discovered that I was also a storyteller. While teaching, I used stories from my life to communicate my point. More than once my students or the people I entertained in conversation told me, “You should write a book.” But remember? I was an artist, not a writer.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid 40s that the desire to write finally overcame my hesitation to go beyond that artist tag. I wanted to write a book. Yep, me — the one who paints and talks. At first, I felt completely insecure. I was a stranger in a world not my own. I didn’t belong. But Danielle told me that all those feelings were felt by all writers. The key was to just keep going! And so I did. (Stay tuned! My book will be coming out soon!)

We both had an epiphany. Why couldn’t we both write and paint? Who decided that there can only be one artist in the family? Or one writer? Why did we believe that we would be stepping on each other’s toes if we pursued achievements in the other sister’s world?

It is silly, really, but I don’t think we’re a unique case. How many of us take on certain roles which end up ruling our entire lives? How many of us have followed a talent, only to discover that it may have become a prison?

Can you think of some labels that may be holding you back? It may have come from a teacher, parent, boyfriend, peer, sibling or even yourself but you find yourself saying “no” to something you’d like to do because of that title or description or definition.

I think it’s time to let those sticky notes with the word ______ (you fill in the blank) lose their stickiness. They need to fall off and be forgotten.

You are the only one who decides what to be or not be … what you’ll try or not try…what you’ll accept or not accept.

I am so happy to say that I love writing. I’m no Emily Dickensen. I’m not even as good as my sister, but I’m working on it. And I’m really proud of myself for finishing my first book (Okay, my sister did edit it, so it’s more of a collaborative effort).

But I just wanted to remind you that there can be more than one artist (or writer) in the family!

Want to give it a go? Try out …


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