by Shawn Hancock
When I was in the 3rd grade I made a choice to ignore a correction from my teacher. It was the beginning of a long trend of confrontations, bad grades, and possibly bad choices. However, I wouldn’t change a thing; because the choice I made as a third grader was the best choice I could have made. The correction she made was an attempt to stop me from daydreaming. Apparently I spent quite a bit of time staring out the window. Up until recently the world has not been too conducive to creative thinkers. Today, however, creative thinkers are starting to be appreciated more and more, but the world still has a long way to go, especially in rural communities. Don’t take this as me telling you that you need to appreciate daydreamers more. What I’m telling you is that if you want to be more creative, you need to start making some choices that you probably should have made in the third grade.
Your teachers had/have an agenda to get you to comply and do the work needed to get you into college; at the very least to get you to graduation. This is their goal for your life and that’s it. What you make of yourself after that is entirely up to you. Of course most of us can point to one or two good teachers that believed in us and gave us encouragement and good advice; but if we were to spend 13 years of our life with hobos, it is likely that we would encounter the same thing. Those encounters have less to do with education than they do with love. It is out of genuine concern for you that a teacher cares enough for you to invest something real, something beyond textbooks and tests.
What you don’t realize as a third grader, or often as an adult, is that you are the one in charge of your life and you decide your own destiny. No one else can do this for you. Some may want to decide for you, but they either want to control you or they believe they’ve made a mess of their own life and see you as an opportunity to start over. If they’ve screwed up their life, you don’t want them screwing up yours. We end up with enough of our own regrets in life, we don’t need theirs to carry around. It’s your life and you are responsible for your own happiness, so don’t let anyone take control of it. What do they care of your happiness? They only want your compliance. The real question is, what do you want out of life?
No one asked me when I was a child what I wanted, they just assumed for me. The truth is I didn’t know what I wanted; but something inside me valued art, the imagination, and creativity. I believed it was important and I stuck to it despite the discouragement of others. Sadly I believed the lie that an artist couldn’t make money; therefore I didn’t, and money has not had the value to me that it should have. In the end I cannot blame anyone for what I believe, and I am responsible for the choices I make. I own my past as well as my future, and only I can determine what is of value in my life. I invite you to do the same, because no one else can be held responsible or blamed for your life.
If you want to be more creative, you have to cultivate your creativity the same way a gardener grows a garden. Creativity starts in the imagination; so daydream a little more. At least once a day, imagine something that has nothing to do with anything. You will be tempted to think of a way out of a problem, or think of something you should have said or done. This is not the same, and I’m not talking about imagining a to do list. I’m talking about an intentional exercise in using your imagination. The problem solving will come more easily to you after you have trained yourself to imagine. You may feel irresponsible in doing it, but believe it or not, you will be starting the process of cultivating creativity and in the long run you will be happier for it.
If you happen to be someone who does daydream, then I invite you to the next step of imagining the future you want and taking the additional steps to make it a reality. Most of us don’t realize the power of our own imagination and how it can change our lives for the better. That’s what I believe anyway, but only you can decide what you believe.