Today, I’m honored to host Jonathan Malm here on my blog, and I can’t wait to read his book Created For More. Enjoy his wisdom on creativity today, wisdom I appreciated for so many reasons, including the “limelight.”
My dad moved our family to Guatemala when I was six. We grew up isolated in the mountains of a third world country. No one spoke English.
I had to make up my own ways to entertain myself. Imagination and creativity were my best friends at that age. But in third grade, a single criticism derailed that notion.
One careless comment from a teacher changed my opinion of myself for years to come.
It happened one afternoon at school, during the last class of the day. Art class. My favorite.
I sat at my desk painting a field full of beautiful colors. I had so much inspiration around me; through the windows I could see mountains, forests, and parrots playing in the trees. Everything was just right for me to unleash my creativity on the paper. I was meticulously painting—moving my paint from water, to dried paint pigment, to paper.
I couldn’t wait to show the art teacher what I was working on.
Ms. Eastman approached my desk toward the end of the hour to pick up my paper and see what I had done. I was excited to get a nod and gold star from her. Instead, she scowled and asked me, “Why are there green flowers here? Flowers aren’t green.”
She dropped the paper on the table, told me to fix the colors, and walked away. Dejected, I painted over my green flowers as her comment echoed in my head.
That single, stupid criticism told me one thing: I was not creative. I wasn’t an artist. My imagination was wrong.
It wasn’t until early in college that I finally realized I might be more creative than I thought.
I found myself in a flower shop, wandering around the colorful aisles, and saw a curious sight.
I beckoned for the shop attendant to come over. “Are these flowers naturally green? Did you dye them?”
She replied, “They’re naturally green. They’re called Limelights.”
I’m not sure I can express the vindication I felt inside me at that moment. I immediately posted a picture on Instagram with the caption, “Green flowers do exist, Ms. Eastman. Your art class was full of lies!”
In that one moment I had a revelation that Ms. Eastman didn’t hold the final word on creativity.
She couldn’t tell me I wasn’t creative. And I could paint green flowers whenever I wanted.
This is my encouragement to you: don’t let other people define you. Don’t let their words keep you from being creative.
Be bold in your creativity. Be bold in your calling. Risk it all if you need.
Green flowers do exist.
Jonathan Malm is a creative entrepreneur and writer. He is the author of Created for More, a 30-day devotional to help you develop a more creative mind. You’ll find him in San Antonio, Texas, roasting his own coffee beans and enjoying life with his Argentine wife, Carolina. You can follow him on Twitter or check out more of his writing at his website – www.jonathanmalm.com.