Uncertainty in Creativity

The problem with us dreamers is that we get used to things remaining as dreams. We never expect anything to come from our ideas. We simply have them like a security blanket – an assurance of what we could possibly do, while protecting us from the possibility of failure. We may never know whether or not our dreams could have come true or done any good, but at least we know it won’t do any harm.

Poor, poor dreamers, are we. 

I’m getting to the point where the reality of this conundrum actually is becoming a hindrance. My self-confidence is shot, my decision-making is shattered, and my productivity as gone to zero. It is not that I don’t want to make my dream come true. It’s simply that I’m afraid that it won’t.

Let me back up a bit. I’ve been given the wonderful opportunity to pursue my mechanical engineering bachelors thesis by creating an invention of my own design. It’s almost unheard of, especially with the added perk of being added under Alex Slocum’s group. At first, it was all fabulous, until I got down to the nitty-gritty and realized that I’m actually a terrible engineer. I’m not saying this for pity points – there must be a place where I can simply say the truth of the matter without anyone thinking that I’m looking for something – the fact is that I’m actually terrible at using the tools and the methods I’ve been taught over the past three years in a practical manner. And that’s simply because I’ve never done it before.

Of course, the first place where I am able to do these things is by myself. On my personal project. Which I need by the end of the summer in order to graduate next year. Fabulous.

Now I mentioned that I was afraid before, though it’s not necessarily obvious, I do believe it’s fear that is keeping me from moving forward. If fear was not an issue, I would be super self-confident as well as motivated, and I would do what I had to do in order to get this done. I know because I’ve done it before: I’ve run educational programs and managered dance groups and am currently starting a non-profit because I know that I can. I have no fear of failure (at least, no failure that cannot be somehow overcome).

But there are several differences in these situations: one being that I’m in a situation where the skills necessary have been underutilized in the past. Two, before I was working with people. I am now working alone

Now, I have received the advice from several people with whom I have discussed these things that I should change that last part. And I would if I could, but not only am I embarrassingly shy when it comes to disturbing people’s lives for my sake (a pride thing, I think), but my own advisor is too busy because he’s off to save the world of engineering from DC, sipping coffee with the President as we speak.

I wish I was kidding on that one.

However, I’ve found some resources that Slocum had written years ago which give me hope. He may not be able to advise me in person, but his writing is getting me on the  right track, and I may be able to crunch this out if I can just get myself to focus.

So what’s the problem now? Time pressure and over-thinking, which leads to uncertainty in the legitimacy of my project.

The knowledge that these things exist do nothing to help me stand against it. If anything the circular logic makes me feel less worthy (you know all of this is happening and yet you can’t do anything about it? are you sure you’re going to be able to do anything at all? etc.) and so I end up back in square 1. My safety blanket is gone – my dreams are no longer dreams, but an actual project that weighs heavily on my head. I feel as though I’ve entered a battle without my sword.

I guess this is the part where I pick up the Sword of the Spirit. But honestly? All I want to do is hide.


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