Friday, March 11, 2016

Bad Habits of the Habitually Creative

- Tiana Laveen

My name is Tiana Laveen, and I’m a strange little thing…

I stand 5’5, but I behave at times as if I’m 6’7. In this case, this isn’t a compliment, either…

See, creative people add salt, sugar, and pepper to the world, but we also create havoc. In our mind, we have been our own set of loosely connected rules, and people who don’t comply or agree with them, are, well, often times wrong… (in our hidden and not so hidden perceptions of course.) This is due to our need to make ‘beauty’ were ugliness resides and a wish for us to escape our own realities, though trust, we know the TRUTH all too well. You see, creative people aren’t just born, they are made. We’ve all heard it… some of the funniest comedians suffer from depression. Some of the best singers and musicians to grace the planet, were drug addicts, battled anger issues and had a disdain for society in general. Some of the most prolific writers were in fact mentally ill… so on, and so on, and so on…

We don’t have the months and years to sit here and sort out the theories from factual data, but as a member of this strange society – and married to my ‘yang’ – a hard-wired left brain thinker who sees things a lot less whimsically and topsy-turvy, I must say that there is some truth to these stereotypes. Let me give you an example. I always prided myself on being a positive, uplifting person. If you study me online, regarding my blogs and vlogs and interactions with my readers and fans, I try to be engaging, offer the ‘glass is half full’ ideology and be kind to people that write me… even those that may not deserve it. In the books I write, I attempt to give food for thought and a few avenues for deliberation via the human experience and how our minds and hearts interact before we derive at a conclusion – hence, the H.E.A. is that really me, though? Perhaps. However, I believe I began to buy my own hype.

What I mean by that is, though I have the emotional resiliency of a springboard – and no, I’m not bragging, it is just the truth, I carried deep, dark, heavy baggage from repeated, unfair circumstances that came my way and continues to arise from time to time. Every intentional hurt directed towards me, every act of cruelty from someone I trusted, so on and so forth, built up. I resented the circumstances, and I resented the people involved, but more times than not, the hurt and anger still lingered, despite my cursing them out and going on my way, or telling myself, ‘It’s over – you’re fine.’ What ended up happening was I had wrapped myself in a shell. This is partially why I’m able to write about characters who on one hand, appear one way, but inside, are quite the opposite. Honestly, being human is a complicated business.

We have control over various aspects of our lives, and some we do not – and with the constant stream of information, experiences, lack of actual physical interaction due to technological advancements and the need to touch, feel and heal not being met… well, creative people turn a bit… well, crazy. Or is it crazier? Either way, things happen to us, just like everyone else, but how we process those experiences seem to often swing from one pendulum to the other. We don’t seem to know a healthy medium unless we ‘train’ ourselves to know the healthy medium. We either show a complete lack of concern or we blaze out of control. We are reactionary, or quiet as the last second of Armageddon. Thus, self-medication comes into play. Creative Souls HAVE to self-medicate. Luckily, there are positive self-medications via our chosen craft or finely tuned talent. If I’m pissed… chances are high I need to sit down and write. If I’m giddily happy and want to ‘never forget that bliss’ chances are, I should pour it into a love scene in one of my books. If I don’t do this, some very bad things can happen… (Insert spooky, haunting  music here.)

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but for instance, like no longer being optimistic and encouraging. I can become negative (seeing everything wrong in the world), jaded (everyone sucks), down and under (depressed and despondent), angry, bitter (she doesn’t deserve that… she’s a jerk.) and just plain horrid (F*&! You). I may not be even saying a word, not typing a thing– but inside, I’m a time bomb.  I am quite self-aware, and that definitely helps, thus, when I see other Creative Souls demonstrating similar behaviors, the alarm bells go off… I know almost immediately that they are not mentally nor emotionally well at that moment… they are actually starving. Since many of us tend to isolate and become manic about our craft, we naturally can cause a situation of emotional starvation – which becomes a never-ending cycle of self- inflicted cruelty in order to create our “art.”

Writers are more times than not, emotional creatures. If we are not feeling very productive, wanted, needed, esteemed or appreciated, we may decide to unleash our disgruntled mood onto unsuspecting victims. Now, this is not to say that we plan it, map it out, and execute it to a ‘T’. No, it is way more disorganized than that and more times than not, we don’t even recognize we’re doing it, and sometimes even after it’s over, we still don’t know it happened. Let me give you an example. Let’s go back to me being optimistic and resilient. That is my natural default, but as stated, life happens, and if those past situations aren’t addressed, instead just skipped over, then that means that the unresolved pain and anger surrounding the issues ARE GOING TO COME OUT, eventually, no matter how smiley faced we may pretend to be. Creative Souls do two things from the time we wake up until we go to sleep (some argue it even continues while we slumber):

We take in, and we put out. It is how we feed and survive. We are literal vampires of the earth’s essence, life’s experiences if you will – sucking in everything around us and twisting it in strange, colorful ways that the “common guy” is not. For instance, you may look across the street and see a little beat up newspaper stand that is empty. I look across the street and see a time long forgotten… a time when people cared about newspapers, tucked them under their arms securely as they headed away with their coffee to a place they deemed as important. I see how archaic they appear to some people nowadays, how the art of a carefully crafted article printed out on tree pulp and covered in warm ink is a dying beauty, right before our eyes. I’d possibly believe that the newspaper stand probably hasn’t had any re-fills in months, perhaps years. The average guy isn’t doing all of that, okay?

Almost everything I see, everything I do – I am processing in ways that some won’t understand. It makes me who I am. It is not to be apologized for, but the way in which I convey these thoughts and concerns very well may call for an apology indeed. Creative Souls can come across as jaded when reality continues to tell us that there will be no fun-for-all Ferris Wheels, dripping chocolate ice cream cones and fresh daisies to sniff in Hell. No matter how we try to ‘brighten up’ the ugliness of the world, we are told to steer clear, and this creates creative constipation. Remember now, we do two things – take in, and give. Anything that impairs that process can create a disaster. We find out the truth – and we make a choice. Keep trying, or start starving and dying. It comes in the form of our experiences, reality checks if you will. And this can thus, come out as negativity. Need another example? Sure! Here’s one - We may be on social media and see someone post something a little something like this:

“I was in my car this morning, waiting at a red light and saw a gorgeous woman walk past! I wanted to ask for her number so bad, but by the time I got the nerve, she’d already walked down the steps to the subway.” The damaged Creative Soul who has been bitten by reality and has now came to the conclusion that the world is a soulless, heartless place that deserves nothing but spit and piss, may then respond:

“Just be lucky you have a car, I don’t… and the hell with that woman. On second thought, the car puts out too much pollution, you should’ve walked or taken a bike to work. And no worries about the ‘one that got away.’ Most women nowadays are ( insert insult of choice here).” – Now, we may not write all of that, but we very well could be thinking it but chances are fairly high we will have something unfavorable to say because well… the platform and the audience were there for it. We need to feed, we know people are going to read it, and if we tell ourselves that what we are writing is true, then we are then able to excuse our rudeness and bad behavior. We become the big, mean elephant stomping into the room, “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME, YOU HEATHENS!” Meanwhile, the ‘common guy’ reading that post is thinking,

“Yeah! He should have said something!” – Nothing more, nothing less. But then when he reads our reply, he writes:

“You’re a big ass, you know that? You need to go see a shrink or take some happy pills. Everyone is sick of you and by the way, your last song you wrote, sucked.”

…As you can see, the 'all is wrong with the world' virus we contracted soon becomes contagious. Instead of then just licking our wounds, we then get into a nasty debate with a practical stranger, all because we wanted positivity and love from the jump- didn’t get it, and turned into a damn monster!

Is negativity the new black? For Creative Souls, it seems to be. We NEED human interaction and nourishment and as the world changes, we become more and more jaded, angry and accusatory.

We. Are. Starving.

The internet only delivers fast food. We need five-course meals on a daily basis. We need to look into your beautiful eyes, feel your hand against ours, smell the sweetness of the candy you just devoured, hear your whiny little voice as you complain about working late again. Our creativity is born from our reality. If we see our reality as warped and wrong – and we FEEL warped and wronged, guess what? Our craft/talent, our personality, our well-being and our disposition suffers. We push people away without knowing why they no longer want to be bothered with us. We blame others for what we are experiencing. We become victims. The fact of the matter was – we WERE a victim when it first began, but now we are just a victim of ourselves! Is this our true nature? Somewhat – but the emaciated version, the malnourished version… Everyone knows that “hungry” people are not nice… just watch any Snickers commercial, lol. Artists take in and put out just as fast. We have to. We are walking osmosis.

So, to my fellow Creative Souls, are you being fed? What are you “eating?” Are you “crapping out” repugnance and negativity, gloom and doom, ‘Debbie Downer mess’ and being the “Devil’s Advocate” time and time again or are you taking personal responsibility, taking inventory of how you feel and why you feel that way? Are you sucking the positivity and love out of a room/area/website/message board because you can’t nourish from a bounty of connectivity? Are you harboring deep, dark secrets that you continue to allow to destroy you, then vomit them out in the form of judgment of others that you do not know, always saying the exact opposite of what is being mentioned simply to be argumentative, or ‘socking it to someone’ not because you wish to have an intelligent discourse, but because you are bitter, angry, mad as hell and the world shit on a damn good person (YOU) and yet no one seems to care? Guess what, buddy? LIFE AIN’T FAIR.

It wasn’t fair today, it wasn’t fair yesterday and chances are high it won’t be fair tomorrow. Being creative doesn’t give us the right to trample on others. The very reason people gravitate towards us can be the very reason we become alienated. Even in this crazy world – you can still eat, baby, and you can eat well! Go take a walk… call a friend… meet some folks online then ENSURE you meet these people in person. Leave your baggage at the door, no one wants it, not even you! You’re just so used it being there, it feels “normal” to you to be so weighted down now.

The world needs us to keep joking, keep singing, keep dancing, keep writing, etc. You were given a very special gift, and that gift will bring you joy, but occasionally also grief. Embrace it – and don’t let what has happened to you, destroy that blessing. People are watching you, even when you aren’t watching yourself. They are looking towards you for direction, enrichment, entertainment, and enlightenment. Jokes have inspired, books have changed lives, songs have moved people to tears… the words we speak due to disenchantment can do the exact opposite. Why? Because Creative Souls may be introverts or Type A personalities, we run the gamut – but our gifts are strong, so when we are emotionally impaired, we try to gain strength by swinging our arms out wildly towards the world, hoping and praying we hit something, latch onto the thing that we lost so very long ago. We hope it’s something we consume, will make us feel full… something we can nosh on, something we can enjoy time and time again. But it never is… it’s flavorless, made of air and causes gas and burping…and worst of all, it repeats. The sad part is, more times than not, we end up the most bruised, with horrible heartburn due to a broken heart, but we don’t even see it until it’s far too late.

Bon Appetit, Creative Soul. Put your forked tongue aside and become the better version of you, again. Your delicious dinner awaits…

-Tiana Laveen (Best-selling author and lover to a manipulative and moody muse.)