Nadia Eghbal

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The Value of Creativity

I had a great conversation recently about creativity: how we define it, how it’s manifested, and how it plays into other parts of our life.

There’s creativity in our livelihoods, of course, and the need to be creatively challenged in the work that we do: proactive problem solving versus reactive execution.

But I also value creativity outside of the work that I do, whether that’s writing, design, aerial, creating art with friends, having novel experiences, or any other pursuit. For me, it’s less about the specific activity and more about having unstructured time to sit with my thoughts and see what bubbles up. Creativity is serendipity.

Creative time plays into the work that we do because it helps shape our identities. It gives us a space to probe at the edges of who we are, try new things without worrying about the consequences, and in doing so, affirm or deny new aspects of our identities. And when we can clearly articulate who we are, and what we believe in, the “whys” and the “must-do’s” of our livelihoods reveal themselves.

But perhaps more importantly, regular creative expression builds confidence. Putting something into the world “just because”, whether that’s a painting or a choreographed act or just wearing something different or doing something silly in public, gives us confidence that we can be our most vulnerable and authentic selves and survive the judgment of others. It reaffirms that our ideas are valuable. And when we believe our ideas are valuable, that makes “doing the right thing”, even when it’s the hard thing, so much easier elsewhere in life.

* Thanks to Maria Molfino for the inspiring conversation.

** I am realizing this post riffs off of one I wrote awhile ago about the value of privacy.