One of my guilty pleasures is watching reality TV shows. Wait! It’s not what you think! I watch shows like Project Runway and Cupcake Wars. Shows where people are creating things and talking about how and why they’re making creative decisions. I find it fascinating. What I find even more interesting is how often this message shows up: Where you start doesn’t have to be where you’ll end up, but what you do on the way can guide, shape, and have a profound effect on your ultimate destination.
Some contestants have been creating from the get-go. They knew early on what they wanted to do, and they’ve followed their heart. Others had to “arrive”. One Project Runway contestant a couple of seasons ago actually started out as a med student. He found the human body fascinating, but not enough to repair it. Going through med school, though, gave him a better understanding of the human body, which has, in turn, made him a good designer.
I think that’s one benefit creatives have — they can take what they’ve seen and done, and apply it to make their work stronger and more personal. Every life experience becomes one more layer in their work. When you aren’t doing creative work, it’s easy to take a narrow-minded approach to your work. Instead of embracing what you’ve done and been, you get yourself locked into the role you’re currently in. But imagine what could happen if you brought of your own background into your work.