I love this quote from Alan Alda: “Be brave enough to live creatively.” It reminds me that creativity can’t be cultivated without help from courage. It’s one of the reasons I chose the word “Brave” as my word for 2016.
Everyone needs to find the courage to be creative. For some, bravery means sitting down in front of their creative work and allowing the process to start. For others, bravery means putting their work out into the world.
For me, bravery means allowing other people to be creative around me.
I have a flip side to my creativity; I am also a natural controller. (At one point I considered naming this blog/book “The Creative Perfectionist.”) It’s hard for me to let go of control and allow others to work their magic. But I’ve learned to push myself in that direction, because whenever I do, great things happen.
For example: my haircut.
I have very short hair, and I love it. Other people tell me all the time that they love my haircut, too. I feel bad even saying “thank you,” because it’s entirely the work and vision of my hairstylist, Devon. I’m always blurting out, “Go see Devon! Here’s the salon she works at!”
I came to Devon at the age of 32 with a super-thick mane of shoulder-length hair. I had never been able to successfully style that hair. It was uncontrollable, frizzy, and so thick that I needed three ponytail holders just to make one ponytail. For the previous several years, I had taken to just throwing it up in a bun every single morning, wanting it out of my face. I realized that if I was doing the same thing with my hair every day, I might as well cut it short. But of course, I was afraid. Most women are taught that long hair is their key to beauty and femininity, and I didn’t know if I could willingly relinquish mine. I looked at photos of short-haired women on Pinterest for months before I finally worked up the nerve.
Creative Bravery, Part 1: The day I met Devon was the day I chopped it all off. It was a risky move, but I wanted someone new and young, so I asked someone I knew who had a great short haircut, and I made an appointment at that salon. When I first made the appointment I didn’t even know if Devon was male or female. Luckily, when I met her I connected with her right away. We talked about our little boys; her son is just 10 months younger than mine. Also, she has gorgeous hair (though hers was long) so I felt confident that she could make my hair gorgeous too.
Creative Bravery, Part 2: I sat in the chair. She asked me if I was ready. I held up my picture of Emma Watson with her short ‘do, hands trembling. “Yes,” I said. “I’m ready.”
Creative Bravery, Part 3: I watched as Devon chopped off a lot of hair. She warned me not to get concerned with the results until the end. She said there would be a stage when it looked horrendous. She was right. But I took a deep breath and summoned bravery and trust. And then something magical happened in the last few minutes. The hair took shape. My face took shape. I looked like me, but more me than I’d ever looked before. I LOVED it.
Creative Bravery, Part 4: I went home and showed off my new hairstyle to my family. They all liked it, but even if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have cared. I loved it for myself. I started experimenting with clothes and wearing eyeliner. I changed my style. I looked more modern, more sophisticated in everything I put on. Far from making me less womanly, the short hair made me look lithe and energetic; it highlighted my curves in a positive way. I appreciated my body and my face more. I started eating healthy not to lose weight, but just because I liked to feed my body good things. I lost ten pounds over the course of that year.
Creative Bravery, Part 5: I went back to Devon, I put myself in her creative hands, and every time she made the hair shorter and more stylish, until it reached the cut I have now (seen in my headshot).
This haircut has changed my life, and it would never have happened if I’d allowed my controlling side to keep tabs on Devon or try to control her process. She had a vision, and over the course of several haircuts, I let go more and more to allow that vision to emerge.
Be brave. Allow others to be creative around you, and admire the results.