Being A Creative Genius is Hard AF and Here’s Why

So you’ve got the gift of creativity and you might even be on the cusp of total genius. Not that passive ‘that’s cool’ genius, but the type of genius that you know will change the world.

It’s exciting, amazing and earth-shattering all-in-one. At the same time that you have butterflies about the gift itself, you are plagued with the world just not getting it.

Genius is hard to recognize up close. To those around you, who have watched you struggle to become confident in your gift and grapple with ways to share it with the world, your genius may look like indecisiveness or a bunch of failed attempts. And it may be because having the gift of creative genius is one thing. But making it consumable for the world is another.

And I know this struggle all too well.

I graduated with a dual major in Supply Chain Management and International Business. I have real, diverse experience with credentials and I’m a double minority (let’s not act like that’s not a thing to employers). I’ve toed six-figure salaries at a very early age in my career. And get this, I gave it up — including the coins and status.

To the dismay of most of my friends and family, I’m certifiably insane. I walked away from every job I’ve ever had. Never been fired once, though. And now I know it’s because my creative genius was consuming me; prying it’s way out and committing to never be stuffed away for the sake of financial security or status again.

And that’s hard AF.

At 23, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. That was nearly a decade ago when corporate success and credentials were my tormentors. That diagnosis wasn’t as common back then. And I was met with many laughs and shrugs or a general lack of understanding.

Things got intense when I decided to quit my job and ‘find myself.’

But I did find myself. I rediscovered my love of storytelling, writing and children. I published two children’s books and got pulled into the world of what I call ;’Community Education’ for children. I’m obsessed with representation in literature, women’s and children’s well-being and making life meaningful and exciting for those groups.

Now let’s be 100%, just the journey to put that in a cohesive sentence has been quite tumultuous. Because that’s how creative genius works. You have it within you all along, but you also have to undergo the process to grow and birth that creative genius. Then you have to nurture it and give it some freedom to grow and become what it’s meant to become. That takes patience, relentlessness and relinquishing a lot of control. It’s almost a submission to being the vessel to the gift. Oh yeah, all this while the necessity to have finances that support the requirements of living never go away.

And yep, that’s hard AF too.

Now if the internal battle wasn’t enough, there are the people and the world. And let me make this clear: they mean well. They really totally do. But a lot of the times their advice is discouraging and accusatory. It’s usually unconscious, but it’s all too common and demotivating.

When another creative genius ‘makes it,’ their journey is summed up and packaged in a pretty little bow. And the distance from not knowing them up close intensifies the allure. This is juxtaposed to your messy, ever-changing birth process.

And if that’s not enough, the idea of success is another external source of struggle. While you may be very content with doing the work, taking the journey and the sacrifices that come along with that; others seem to be placated by that.

It seems our beloved society has effectively convinced the masses that you have a gift or genius, it should become an entrepreneurial endeavor. You should no doubt use it to make money, right?

It’s asinine to think that creative genius can be successful without the genius of being able to make a living off of it. But there is more than one type of currency. Financial currency isn’t the only one. There are moments when you are excited because you accomplish a goal or when you meet people who ‘get it and you.’ When you make an impact, you may win awards, be featured in an article or simply put something you create out in the world.

It’s all currency-little deposits that show you that you are on the right path. But when others don’t see those big dollars being deposited, they assume you are struggling to be successful. Even when you are well on your way or consider yourself quite successful already by your own standards.

The questioning, the ‘advice’ and the concern are all deflating. But so are the moments when you are asked to share what you love with those you love, and it’s obvious that they aren’t interested or focused on what you are sharing. It becomes challenging to even share your dreams with anyone at that point. Because that takes a whole lot of courage.

That, too, friends is hard AF.

Being a creative genius is challenging. Through the internal and external struggles, know this: your work matters. And I am saying this as someone who struggles each day to commit and recommit to sharing my genius with the world. I’m ever evolving in not only how I do that, but in building the strength to continue to do it, while dexterously learning to avoid the people, situations and self-doubt that could derail my journey. I brave the misunderstandings and the failed attempts for the sake of getting it right many times over.

Because at the end of the day, no matter how hard it is, my creative genius is so much bigger than me. I’m going to change the world! And I know that. I hope you do, too. If you don’t, let me be the first to tell you that there are people waiting for what you and I will create. They truly need it. So get going Genius, even if it’s hard AF.

by ashleechesny

Above all things, I am a storyteller on a mission to use my gift of gab and storytelling to strengthen women and nurture children all over the world. For children of color, I created the literacy nonprofit, Genius Patch and publish children’s books. I’ve been lucky to win some awards for my work with children and even luckier to be known as “Mrs. Ashlee” throughout Detroit, Washington D.C and Central Region Ghana.

For women, I wrote my first book, “Oh Sh*t, I’m Thirty! 100 Real, Wise and Hilarious Things Every Woman Should Know to Own 30 Like a Boss”. Women of all ages have given rave reviews for the book. In October 2018, my work was featured on Made Magazine for their special women’s edition.

I spend lots of time obsessing over Zora Neale Hurston's life and work. In fact, I've become quite the expert reading over 2500 pages on Zora, letters written by her and her work. For the past 3 years, I've presented on Zora at Michigan State University.

On top of that, I’m a mom to one brilliant 3 year old and a wife to one supportive husband. I love coffee, movie butter popcorn and binge watching my favorite shows once a week.