The day my creativity died



I think it was December 2006. Two years since I finished highschool, I was on my second Co-op (basically an internship except your work performance is graded by school) as a web developer. One day, we had a nice Christmas tree set up in the office. Excited, one of my senior coworkers said to me,

“hey josh, we need to start decorating. can you start putting these glass balls on the tree?”

Sure, it was an easy task. I grabbed one of the balls and stood in front of the tree, preparing to hang one. Except, that’s when my longest struggle started and I still remember how it felt like an eternity.

Where should I hang it?

For some reason, I just couldn’t move my muscle and put that glass ornament ball. The Christmas tree was right there with nothing, but a shining, yellow star on top of the tree. I recall that feeling, what I remember still, as ‘fear.’ I feared that wherever I put that ball on the tree would be a wrong location and I might be blamed for doing it wrong. It was as if, you have this pure, very plain, white blank paper waiting for me to be drawn on. Yet, I had no idea where to put my pen and start moving. In the end, I had to turn my head towards that senior and ask, “so, where do you want me to hang it?”

I still am not sure what exactly caused that pause, but at least I thought I was one of the most creative people back then (while the word ‘creative’ and ‘innovative’ are used so much these days without context), winning highschool design competitions and this and that. Higher education taught me how to think logistically and bring functional values to everyday problems in the efficient way as possible and I was trained to become how to apply solutions as fast as possible. My work was considered an ‘improvement’ as I was playing with existing resources.


Eventually as I progressed through undergrad engineering, I often felt lack of motivation. I started to look for tangible, visible proofs over values and experiences. Maxwell’s equation didn’t feel any more than bunch of symbols I need to memorize to get my degree. You start looking for practical applications and what they will do, but perhaps recollecting senses and identify the core of surroundings could be as important. The day I tried to put that glass ball was the day when my creativity died, or perhaps when I started to become more obsessed with mediums over meanings.

Long story short, I want you to struggle and I want you to feel pain (owkay not physically but like agony and suffering from trying to overcome your current existential limit) as that is when your capacity and potential to bring subconscious value that couldn’t be found will be revealed at a higher chance.