Try This Instead - Permission

Big magic: creative living beyond fear - Elizabeth Gilbert 2015

Try This Instead

Instead of taking out loans to go to a school for the arts, maybe try to push yourself deeper into the world, to explore more bravely. Or go more deeply and bravely inward. Take an honest inventory of the education you already have—the years you have lived, the trials you have endured, the skills you have learned along the way.

If you are a young person, open your eyes wide and let the world educate you to the fullest extent. (“Ascend no longer from the textbook!” warned Walt Whitman, and I warn it, too; there are many ways to learn that do not necessarily involve schoolrooms.) And feel free to start sharing your perspective through creativity, even if you’re just a kid. If you are young, you see things differently than I do, and I want to know how you see things. We all want to know. When we look at your work (whatever your work may be), we will want to feel your youth—that fresh sense of your recent arrival here. Be generous with us and let us feel it. After all, for many of us it has been so long since we stood where you now stand.

If you are older, trust that the world has been educating you all along. You already know so much more than you think you know. You are not finished; you are merely ready. After a certain age, no matter how you’ve been spending your time, you have very likely earned a doctorate in living. If you’re still here—if you have survived this long—it is because you know things. We need you to reveal to us what you know, what you have learned, what you have seen and felt. If you are older, chances are strong that you may already possess absolutely everything you need to possess in order to live a more creative life—except the confidence to actually do your work. But we need you to do your work.

Whether you are young or old, we need your work in order to enrich and inform our own lives.

So take your insecurities and your fears and hold them upside down by their ankles and shake yourself free of all your cumbersome ideas about what you require (and how much you need to pay) in order to become creatively legitimate. Because I’m telling you that you are already creatively legitimate, by nature of your mere existence here among us.