By Robyn Reisch
We are all familiar with the stereotype of the moody teenage artist. She wears all black, feels tremendous amounts of angst, and, while very bright, struggles to find joy in a world full of tragedies. While many creative people find this stereotype to be offensive, there is growing scientific evidence that it may, in fact, have some merit. Modern research suggests that highly creative minds are at an increased risk for depression due to their insightful and highly empathetic worldview.
Nancy Andreasen, author of The Creative Brain: The Science of Genius, believes that creative minds are less likely to easily adapt when confronted with new situations. This is because they are more skeptical of the information given to them by authority figures. They would rather make up their own minds. This is not only much more difficult to do, but much more time-intensive when trying to adjust to a new environment. They are creating their own ideas rather than blindly adopting the ones put forth by society.
“This flexibility,” observes Andreasen, “permits them to perceive things in a fresh and novel way, which is an important basis for creativity. But it also means that their inner world is complex, ambiguous, and filled with shades of gray rather than black and white. It is a world filled with many questions and few easy answers. While less creative people quickly respond to situations based on what they have been told by people in authority — parents, teachers, pastors, rabbis, or priests — the creative person lives in a more fluid and nebulous world.”
This mindset, while very valuable, can unfortunately lead to feelings of isolation and alienation from the deep thinker’s peer group – thus, the archetype of the artsy loner. This often creates a crushing sense of stress and depression. Oddly enough, this can actually provoke more creativity.
Many creative geniuses, across a diverse array of fields, have felt it. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and Vincent Van Gogh have all famously struggled with mental illness. In fact, in examining creative history, it is much more difficult to find an emotionally well-adjusted artist than one who struggles with his or her mental state.
I really liked this blog I found from 2014 when I was looking for something else. It was interesting because I could relate to it so well. Lines like “a world filled with many questions and few easy answers” — “skeptical of the information given to them” — “would rather make up their own minds” — “creating their own ideas rather than blindly adopting the ones put forth by society” and “less likely to easily adapt when confronted with new situations” all fit too well with my way of thinking and feeling. I know this is scientific information but rather than try to put God into their finds I put their finds into Gods creation. I believe creative people get their quirky ways, which I call normal from God to fit the purposes He designed us for. Yes we have to let God direct us in how to handle these things we feel or think that might be different than society norms but I don’t think we should try to eliminate or change them. We need to use these gifts for the benefit of our work and God’s purpose. It was one of those “suddenlies” for me when I read this because it answered things I’ve questioned about myself and my relationship with others around me. I’ve never seemed to truly fit in and you can feel bad about that and start trying to place blame on yourself that doesn’t need to be there. In the last couple of years I’ve found myself trying to work at getting people in the church I was in to accept and let me into their circle. I finally moved away from them but still found myself wanting them to care about me. That sounds sick when I say it and God had to allow something to happen that would finally show me what I was doing so I would stop! Today I was dealing with this feeling once again of being alone and I was unhappy with no one contacting me over a big upset that happened. I wrote a text message to the pastor and it vanished before sending. Then I wrote an email but didn’t feel I should send it. I went to look for things to share on Facebook and there was a short post with a heading that said: LET THEM GO! The writer said she had heard God say to her, “Do you trust me?” and she said, “YES Lord” and He said, “Then let them go.” In the end she made the statement, “It is time to move forward” and I knew that was what God has been trying to show me in a lot of ways for a long time, I have to let some people go so I can move forward. Then I found this blog I’m sharing and I knew there was a connection between my creative nature and my feeling of loneliness that was making me hang on to what God told me to let go of two years ago! So I’m posting it along with my story in the hopes it will help others to break out of that pattern of isolation because creativity makes you different!