Artsy and creative people are often told to get out there, march to their own drum, be an original and true to themselves, no matter what. To be artistic is, in some ways, to be “extra.”
But if you are in marching band and just break out your own snare and march around to your own drumbeat, what will happen? You’ll run over the clarinets, get crushed by the sousaphones, and kicked out of marching band.
Sure, wearing a cape to school might be the right flair in a teen rom-com, but in real life you’re going to be sitting by yourself at the nerd table.
Being extra is only a good thing in narrowly defined channels, and people who are different are way more likely to be mocked for it than praised. It’s not something to aspire to.
So it creates a paradox. Creatives are told that this outward show of creativity is a requirement for being who they are, but anyone with any awareness will also learn that standing out from the crowd in this way will just make you a target.
At least, that’s how I reacted. I kept to my richer inner creativity but worked hard to blend in. And I think I’m worse for it now; I’m too offbeat to be totally straight laced and too normal to be part of the weirdos. No mans land of not fitting in.
There are some people I’ve met in creative circles who lean in to the kookiness, some in ways that make me wonder if they aren’t also faking–that they think “creative” doesn’t exist unless it is outwardly odd. That also doesn’t make sense to me.
How much weird is part of the creative package? Is it just a matter of finding the crowd in which your drumbeat matches?