I was bewailing my latest poor job interview to my mom over the phone. Like any good parent, she listened, gave me some tough love about how I could do better, and then said something that was encouraging. One way to get better at interviewing, she said, is to know yourself, and in particular, your strengths. And it makes sense: if I want a job that allows me to do what I’m best at, a) I should know what that is, and b) be able to show/tell prospective employers so.
It’s not like I haven’t thought about this before. I’ve always known that I’m a quick reader, that I’m not frightened of numbers (or big words, or strange ideas, or really anything you might find in a university class), that I relish thinking. I know that these gifts make me unique. But it was a surprising shift to think of those qualities as valuable, not just “I can (_insert gift_)” but “I can (_insert gift_) and it is good!”
Creativity is one of those gifts. My expression of creativity is different than other people’s, and yet I’m coming to realize that I can bring a creative spin to projects…and that is a good thing! Thinking about other creative friends (artists, writers, cooks, homemakers, pastors…), I wonder how much we let ourselves own and value our own creative gifts, instead of taking them for granted. It’s hard to silence that voice of self-doubt, self-criticism, claiming that you aren’t really creative, or if you are, it’s not something that actually has value in this harsh “real world.” But when I stop and think, I know that dreary voice is absolutely wrong! Living creatively is what makes it possible to thrive instead of just survive in this “real world”: in the storytelling that speaks out against oppression, the art that heals wounds, the meals that bring together, the songs that speak our hearts, the thoughtful use of resources to make the world a better place.
I want to keep naming my strengths, not as a way to diminish others or deny my weaknesses, but as a first step towards giving them away in service to others.