I am identified by hair quite frequently now. It’s strange to think that since that was never a thing about four years. My hair wasn’t special. It wasn’t ugly, but it just wasn’t notable.
But now my hair is very me.
It’s short and spunky. I now have an undercut that makes the sides of my head fuzzy like a puppy. My hair is never the same color all year round. It’s constantly slightly changing. Cutting it all off after my high school graduation was like a creative way of marking my life transitioning. It was also to prove a point to my shitty boyfriend that I would still look hot.
The color of my hair has really always been fascinating since I don’t dye it. It just just changes in the sun, pick up bright blonde highlights that trickle down to my dark eyebrows to make them salt-and-pepper colored. It reflects to a young, baby Vee with hair the color of sunned straw. Blonde is the color that makes me happiest and Winter brings a brown that makes me look sallow in the face. I get this ever-changing color from my daddy, whose hair is now a permanent brown that only sees peeks of blonde when he stays in tropical locations for work trips and in his eyelashes.
Recently, people have been complimenting me on my dark hair and asking when I dyed it. I didn’t. I am slightly horrified that they are saying how dark it is. My hair was so blonde from a summer of being in the sun daily walking around campus as a Summer Welcome Leader that the fact that it hasn’t started shedding it’s winter layers/my haircuts have been revealing the areas the sun hasn’t seen is kind of a drastic change. I have always identified as a blonde, heck, I buy John Frieda Blonde shampoo. I liked the cliche of blondes having more fun because I felt lighter and happier when my hair was blonder.
But, stupid, silly, cliche me was forgetting the point of what people were saying to me. They were complimenting me. Telling me I looked good. Saying I was pretty. I was creatively avoiding the positives because it was easier in the moment for me to be mad at a change I wasn’t used to then just accept people being nice to me.
My hair has always been a symbol of self love, but now it has taken on a new meaning for me to allow others to praise me when I deserve it. Humility is important but fighting compliments isn’t cute. But, thanks for telling me my hair is.
I am definitely a Googler of what dreams mean, especially after I had what is said to be a common dream about your teeth falling out. That one supposedly marks anxiety, a large transition in one’s life and, of course, Freud says it represents sexual repression. *Insert cool symbol emoji*
But, when Dr. Crespy came to talk to our class he explained that our dreams are our own. He led us through creating our very own Dream Cache out of a lunch bag in which we could write down dreams we have and put it next to our bed to be able to reflect on what our subconscious mind is whipping up. Before we could just go sleep on it (lol), he prompted us to write different things to tap into our dreaming mind. We had to write down feelings that intrigued us, people that came to mind, places that meant something to us, events that we enjoyed, etc. Then he made us blindly grab these slips of paper and create a quick dream from it. Mine wasn’t that fantastical and involved me getting with my current crush (surprise, surprise) in my stable, future home. Some of my classmates shared their written dreams and they sounded like lyrical art, but they were very true to what I knew about those people. It’s fascinating how random thoughts, feelings and things can be so representative of people’s real and unreal experiences and perspective on life.
That idea kind of bled into what we did in class after my group’s project presentation (which went amazingly). We had the Interactive Theater Troupe come in to our class and play out a scene of students discussing religious extremists. It was crazy how much my blood boiled as an actor played a devout Baptist that harped on how Muslims were scary and “the other.” It seems so obvious to me how ignorant that is, but the reality of this “fake” scenario is that there are people whose experiences have pushed them to believe something like that. It was fun to watch Lizzie, one of my classmates, interact with the scene and try to find common ground with the different characters that were all trying to shut each other down. Even though her personal experiences were a bit different than the majority of the cast, she found a way to level with all of them, which shows how everyone can connect in some way. I mean, that teeth dream must be common for a reason…
When I started taking this Creativity course, the Type A, grade-conscious part of me wondered how grading would work for this class. I feel like most of my peers chirp about how they are/aren’t “that” creative, but on what scale? What made them less creative than something or someone else?
Piirto in Chapter 12 of Understanding Creativity brings up that idea. Creativity is a construct because it is something that helps makes up a person’s behavior, yet is unobservable and not directly measurable. “The lack of a universal definition for creativity — and the complexity of what is creativity — is the major problem in developing a valid test or measure,” according to Piirto (381). It’s hard to accurately assess creativity when it comes in so many different forms. In my friend group alone not one of us is creative in the same way as someone else. Cassa is creative with her writing, Christine is creative with her story ideas, Alison is creative with her approach to food, Caroline is creative in social media, Brendan is creative with his graphic designs, Hannah is creative with her witty words, Mary is creative with her numbers and yarn work, Veronike is creative with her culture and her activism and I am creative with my clothes. If you made us all take the same test, our results would be so different that it wouldn’t be able to standardize our level of creativity.
I think that is a really true testament to what I’ve learned through this course so far. In all my other academic avenues, especially in the very competitive J-school, I have felt pushed (and pushed myself) to compare myself to others and their abilities. But this class has opened so many different avenues to how I approach being creative, whether it is through song, meditation, playing with figurines, making images with my body or acting. Though I might not be amazing at all of the different things we try in class, they all increase my ability to look at things in different ways. There isn’t a right or wrong to creativity, which is hard for me to comprehend at times, but I think it is just what I needed to think out of the box.
I was trying to get my creativity on this past week with starting my cooler crafting project for a friends fraternity formal. This weather has (and will continue to be) so sunny and practically perfect that it is hard to not have an excuse to be outside. I had set up my drop cloth and cooler sanding and priming supplies when I started to space out a bit.
Sitting on a grassy area in front of my East Campus apartment is the perfect perch for a lot of things.
or just Thinking.
And that’s what I did.
I thought about how the girls who live in the front house to my apartment maybe were judging me as they chirped about whatever gossip about whatever girl as they sipped their wine from painted, personalized wine glasses.
I thought about how I didn’t really care and that I knew at least one of them couldn’t be judging me for my Blackhawks shirt since I have seen the little face of Abe on their license plates. They could actually be on my side.
I thought about how one of my arms would scritch and scratch away at the shiny red plastic and get stronger than the other. I would have to switch to sand. I was surprised my knees weren’t sore from kneeling on the uneven ground, but I guess my legs are stronger (even with a healing sprain) than I thought.
I thought and listened to the cars passing by and caught a glimpse of a familiar face, but not familiar in a way that I necessarily needed to care. I put on my Spotify softly but didn’t really pay attention to the female pop star crooning.
I was in front of a kind of slummy apartment complex partaking in a strange fraternity formal ritual. None of it would make sense to people outside of the college bubble. But for a moment, I felt like I burst it.
This week in class was when our problem group projects were due. My group didn’t present during these class periods because one of my group members needed to ~creatively~ choose what med school she was going to by visiting New York. But, two groups with the problems of getting people into nature and improving human connection.
The nature group capitalized on the meditation exercises our class has done in the past and made us meditate briefly while listening to calming nature noises and then while listening to the hustle and bustle of phones, computers and other office things. The transition between the two sound clips was so fast that it added to how anxious the second sound clip made the room feel. The group told us to go outside and look at different elements of nature, such as blades of grass or old leaves or the dandelions that I rushed to blow out when I got outside. We only had five minutes, but even that little time did kind of improve my rather sour mood. It helped prove how nature is better than sitting in artificial light or staring at screens all the time. Sometimes you never notice the little bits of beauty all around you when your face is always buried in texting, Snapchatting, etc. Their solution was a pamphlet and website that reached out to parents and kids to get them to want to go outside more and push their parents to take them outside more.
The other group wanted to tackle the problem of how people are losing real human connectedness to being on social media or messaging through other means instead of talking in person. They came up with the idea of an app that will help people utilize their free time to meet up in person with their friends, family and loved ones by matching their schedules. It was fun because they gave the rest of the class fake schedules and made us talk to our fellow classmates to figure out a time during our week to meet up. It was crazy how fast I could fill up my schedule and I got to talk to people while doing it. This seemed very realistic with how Millennials work and how busy they tend to think they are.
I can’t wait to present my group’s project to see how much our creative processes varied (or were similar) to these other groups.
I’ve always considered myself a visual learner. I do better if there is something on the board in class for me to reference or write notes from, or I always ask to look at the instructions or something that someone may mention to me. If I don’t have an image available to me for what I am trying to conceptualize, I will sketch it out or write an outline. Doing that kind of thing gets me into the first steps of being a “creative” as described in Zig Zag by Keith Sawyer
“Creatives make ideas tangible — dashing off sketches, cobbling together creations from duct tape and foam core, shooting quick videos to create personality and shape to a new concept.” – Tom Kelley, IDEO general manager
As much as I like planning and visualizing, sometimes I get so antsy that I need to just jump in and start molding something in some way. Whether it is segmenting a article I am trying to write and moving around notecards in a storyboarding fashion, or creating a prototype of something I am trying to sew or craft, sometimes just looking at it isn’t enough. According to Zig Zag, all of this is part of the eighth step of creativity, the Make step.
But, this make step doesn’t occur in one big leap, it is little steps and written out observations and partial models. I never realized how much I do that in my creative/daily life because my brain can never stay on one idea for too long. Sometimes I stop myself in the middle of my homework to write out a couple sentences I want to include in something I am writing for Vox or sketch out what I want to paint on the cooler I am making for a fraternity’s formal (honestly hour: It takes me so long to write these posts for that very reason). Sometimes this means that my final creative leap doesn’t come as soon as I think it should, but it is all part of the process.
I didn’t think as a journalism major I would forget being as fully wrapped up in a story as I was in class this week. Sure, I read, watch and otherwise consume stories all the time that are forms of journalism. But it’s always in a haste, with a specific purpose to find something, or just cluttered with technology and other elements. I love all the different things that modern journalism can do with storytelling, but sometimes taking it back to basics takes your brain somewhere that you forgot it could go.
That’s how I felt when Dr. Milbre Burch guest taught our Creativity class this week. She made us stop and disconnect and just listen to her tell a fantastical tale of a girl raised to be a man and the quests he went on. It wasn’t as if she was reading directly from a prompt, it was like a performance. Sometimes I forget how much can be conveyed in just voice inflection and body language. It was nice to zone out of school life for a few minutes and be transported to that childish wonder.
She had us create our own stories, too. At first, we were more telling the stories of our names and our partners would find something that struck them to share with the class. This showed how people’s creative minds work in different ways because how people approached their name stories showed a lot about how they felt about their name and what they wanted to show, as well as it showed what people found important or interesting when they shared out to the class.
While we were still fresh with that childish wonder, we got to play in the sand. Dr. Burch had set out sand trays with little scenes in them created from different random toys, figurines, blocks, etc. We had to tell a story from how they were already set up and from what we saw. Some people went directly to realistic or personal experience-inspired stories, while some of my classmates made up magical stories. Then we had to go to a tray and create our own story. We could use whatever toys we wanted and then we had to tell it to our classmates. It was a lot of fun just running around and not using facts to create a tale that was representative of what figurines we grabbed. But then we were challenged with only making a story with five items. That was harder for me because I felt like we were locked into an idea once we started identifying items to use.
Stories are parts of our everyday lives, even as we get older. Sometimes we need to be able to let ourselves lean into the creativity and craziness and not hold back from enjoying something made-up once in awhile.