For my assignment this week I read the book Big Magic; Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Gilbert divides this book into six parts; Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. Each of these parts focuses on how one can embody each of those things to let go of their fear and to embrace their creativity in life. Gilbert shares many good thoughts on combating fear and embracing creativity in this book, three of these ideas particularly stuck out to me.
In the part entitled “Courage”, Gilbert discusses being courageous in the face of your fears. She states that we shouldn’t live with an absence of fear, that is unnatural. We need to live with our fear, but not let the fear control our lives. Gilbert makes an analogy about going on a road trip. In this analogy, you are going on a road trip with your creativity and fear. Fear is welcomed on this road trip, but is not allowed to drive. Fear can have an opinion on where you go, but fear does not have a vote on it.
I really liked how Gilbert discussed fear in this analogy. In my life I often let fear have a say in what I do, I have even let fear be in the driver’s seat from time to time. I always thought the way to get rid of fear was to eject it from the car all together. However, getting rid of fear completely is not attainable. It’s healthy to have fear and to acknowledge its existence, but not let it control your life. That is something I hope to do going forward.
Something I found particularly interesting in the section “Enchantment” was when Gilbert discussed how the fear of peaking can keep a person from trying again. She discusses how Harper Lee did not release another book after To Kill a Mockingbird because “When you’re at the top, there’s only one place to go.” This fear makes creating about winning or losing, with the fear of losing stopping us from embracing our ideas and trying to create again.
I’ve had many ideas in my life that I have not pursued due to fearing they will not be successful. This was something that held me back a lot during the first few months of my internship. When working with clients and patients, I didn’t try out ideas I had in fear of them not working. Additionally, I didn’t share ideas I had in fear of them not being good enough. I have worked through a lot of these and have discovered that just because something didn’t work doesn’t mean I am a failure as a music therapy intern. I am incredibly proud of the progress I have made, and will keep working on not letting fear stop me from trying.
The part entitled “Permission” discusses how to allow yourself to look past fear and embrace your creativity. One part of this that stuck out to me was about “entitlement”. Gilbert states “creative entitlement means believing that you are allowed to be here… you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.” She discussed sharing and owning your creative intent, not letting others scare you away from the life you are entitled to.
This part reminded me a lot of imposter syndrome. I have found myself falling into its traps many times in my life. Imposter syndrome leads to feelings that I somehow don’t deserve to be where I am and doing what I am doing. This has happened when I have started new ensembles, started new jobs, and especially happened when I started my internship. I’ve learned to push through this fear, but it often causes a lot of growing pains. I need to work on owning my intent and entitlement as soon as I start something to combat the feelings of fear and imposter syndrome. I am going to be a music therapist and I have worked hard and deserve to be where I am.
Overall, I really enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert’s point of view on embracing creativity and combating fear. As someone who lets fear and anxiety often control her life, I found Gilbert’s book to be thought provoking and I look forward to adopting some of her mindsets going forward.