All of my life people have described me as intense. My family, my friends, perfect strangers that I’ve met at parties. I’ve been known to get really excited about a topic—like REALLY excited—without noticing the person that I’m talking to is backing away from me and trying to get out of the room. Don’t get me wrong, my intuitive people skills are usually pretty good. But when my creative faculties are triggered, everything else flies out the window.
I always assumed that this was a big defect, my ability to turn into a socially awkward nutjob at random times. It wasn’t until I started reading around online that I realized nothing is wrong with me. I just happen to be a highly creative person.
Highly creative people are intense.
Highly creative people are also likely to be: Emotional, restless, driven by curiosity, unconventional when it comes to social norms, eccentric in behavior, and extreme in mood and temperament. We have this inner compass that swings wildly back and forth, and because of the constant fluctuation it usually takes us a while to figure it out. Some of us never figure it out, in fact. The stereotypes of the incredibly talented rock star on heroin, or the genius writer drowned by alcoholism, exist for a reason.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that I started to get a handle on my buzzing creative brain, and it took a lot of work and research and practice, but it can be done. I discovered the key to a highly creative person leading a healthy life is balance. And that because of our extreme nature, this is the thing that is also so challenging for us to learn.
For instance, when I was younger I would get so carried away by an idea, or a book, or a person—anything that I found fascinating and magical—that I would push everything else aside. I would work on that idea for hours, skipping meals. Or read that book for days, skipping sleep. Or become involved in unhealthy relationships, skipping myself. I had to teach myself that solid nutrition, regular sleep, and stable relationships are good for me, even if they’re not always fascinating and magical.
Another part of the process that changed my life was fully accepting who I am and how I work. For many years, I tried to downplay my weird streak and fit in. I tried to show interest in things I wasn’t really interested in, but most of my friends were. This resulted in wild outbursts of rebellious energy that exploded at all the wrong times. Because I wasn’t allowing myself to just be myself I constantly felt stifled and resentful on some level.
Functioning well as a highly creative person comes down to balance and authenticity. Our mental health is not precarious, as the myths of the mad artist would have us believe, it just needs mindful care and feeding. And the more authentic we are as creative beings, showing up every day in our own lives as passionate souls searching for meaning, the more positive people and circumstances will show up for us.
The last essential piece for highly creative people is that they must be creating things. It doesn’t always have to be a huge crazy project, little works of art can nourish us as well. What counts is that we’re making things on a regular schedule. Creative expression must take priority in our lives or we will suffer the dire consequences of ill physical health, and depression and anxiety.
To find out more about writers, artists and other highly creative people, you can read through some of my other posts on this topic:
Be yourself. Find your balance. Write like you were born to it.
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