In the Blog
Bits and Pieces: My Latest Creative Project
Illustration by Mallory CK
I was catching up with a friend when she asked me, “have you been creating recently?” This is one of those friends with whom, despite not talking everyday, the conversation always feels natural. She always intuitively seems to understand what I’m feeling and thinking.
Though innocuous, her question evoked a sense of guilt in me that I’d been harbouring for a few months. I looked away, toward something out of her view—an excuse to break eye contact—and responded simply, “no… I haven’t had time.”
Since going away to college (or maybe even before) I’ve felt like I’m in a creative rut. Poems and pieces used to seemingly fall from the web of my jumbled thoughts onto the keyboard in lucid phrases, but now the thought of writing something non-academic is daunting.
I feared that maybe going back to school after my gap year was draining me of my creativity, that maybe I only had room in my crowded little brain for academics or self-expression, but not both. I felt a lot of shame about this. When I was offered a position on the Shameless blogging team, I was so excited and proud to be recognized as a writer, but this soon gave way to a sense of imposter syndrome as I worried, “what if I’m not the writer I used to be?” But, I have come to realize that I have never been more creative in my life than I am right now.
In an article by James Clear titled “Creativity: How to Unlock Your Hidden Creative Genius,” the author defines creativity as the “act of making new connections between old ideas or recognizing relationships between concepts. Creative thinking is not about generating something new from a blank slate, but rather about taking what is already present and combining those bits and pieces in a way that has not been done previously.” At the start of last school year, I felt entirely made of bits and pieces—stray rubble held together by the excitement of what the year had to offer but kept fractured by the inherent doubt of my own capabilities. If I’m being honest, I’ve felt pretty lost since going away to college, but I think that is because I am discovering a “me” I have never known. And all my creative energy is going into creating her: how she likes to decorate and nourish herself, who and what makes her feel fulfilled, how she balances productivity and relaxation, how she likes to paint her face. I am my newest narrative character. It’s overwhelming—and I think that’s exactly how it’s supposed to feel.
It’s now been a year since I’ve moved to this new city. I’ve witnessed myself being molded together and having bits picked away: making and losing and making new friends, finding my first apartment, and picking a major. Creating is exhausting, but to see how I’ve taken my bits and pieces and formed them into someone, not so much new, but evolved, has been proof to myself that I can do what I never thought I could: live on my own on the other side of the country, learn independence and who I am as an individual. I’m learning how to make friends in a pandemic and remember to pay my electricity bill on time, how to find validation in myself instead of those around me and use the subway. My poetry is the way I get on the right train (or not), the chosen family I forge; my rhymes are the lessons I’ve learned from my past that guide me in this present.