Creativity, Imagination, and Activism
in collaboration with Irregular Labs, a Gen Z think tank and studio that connects the opinions and ideas of our 10k+ global community of girl and gender nonconforming Gen Zs directly to brands, non-profits and political organisations.
The first rule they teach you in Improv class is “Yes, and…” and if there ever was a phrase that could sum up my generation, it’s this. I remember when I was in the fifth grade. One of my classes favorite activities was to sit in a circle and talk about who we wanted to be when we grew up. We’d always have a devious look in our eyes, listening to each other intently and mentally making additions to our lists. I don’t remember a single person ending at one “profession”. You’d always hear a multi-hyphenated career plan. Mine sounded a lot like a grocery list — author and poet and performer and professional reader and lawyer and part time superhuman who could take everybody’s pain away. There wasn’t a glimmer of doubt in my mind that I couldn’t possibly be all those things. There still isn’t. I am a published poet and I’m on my way to becoming a human rights lawyer. I’ve performed poetry in many cities and have also travelled to various districts in remote parts of my state to help bring about change at the grassroots level. The hours I spend with communities that have been systematically denied privileges, learning about the nuances of their lives and problems, and the hours I spend among piles of data to help drive policy recommendations, all inform my poetry. And this poetry makes for the thread with which I use to stitch myself to the people I fight for.
My fight would be lost without my poetry, and my poetry wouldn’t exist without my fight.
Change is the only constant and these words probably hit the hardest today. Just when you start getting used to something, it begins to change. Never have we as a civilization moved this fast, erupting in all directions with the same intensity. My ability to hold onto the creative in me has helped me reinvent myself over and over again. The knowledge and experience of each facet of my life helps me dive headfirst into new challenges. Our brains are different in their capacity to imagine, create and invent in a very idiosyncratic way. Creativity disrupts the semblance of order we trick ourselves into resigning to. When you resign yourself to one “occupation” and shut your doors to creativity, you shut off a possible pathway for growth.
Just by the virtue of being creative professionals, we constantly challenge ourselves. I, much like my peers around me, have always been skeptical of the box you’re supposed to pick as your “career” and lock yourself into for your entire life. We’re never too comfortable anywhere because a part of us always exists on the other side of the line, which is also why we’re always prepared to shake things up. We’re not only refusing to confine ourselves and our ambitions into a box, we’re destroying every box in sight to reveal that all the pieces add up if (and only if) you’ve got the string of creativity. Only with this string can we submit ourselves to not just the task at hand but to movements larger than our lives.
When people hold on tight to their creative mind they’re rarely, if ever, fazed by things going wrong. Life doesn’t follow a script and nobody knows that better than Gen Z. Our minds aren’t tuned to the frequency of surprise.
“Oh look what a disaster!” We always expect them. Instead we run on “how can I fix this?” or “how can I still make this work?”, and that is an invaluable approach to have cultivated — the ability to fix things preemptively.
Creativity also fosters empathy. When I’m performing on stage, I’m not merely performing. I’m living the truth of my words and in that moment I cease to be just me. This helps me work closely and amicably with people from all walks of life. I can listen and understand better because I can easily step out of myself. We’re all fighting different battles but we march together in the war, and our suit of armour is woven from strands of creativity. It is only with the shield of creativity that we can continue to build because creativity in itself is a type of building and in this paradigm, we’re all allowed to be human; each and every version of it. We’re building a future for everyone within and around us.
So no, I’m not just a poet because my poetry is just a tiny bit of my identity. Nor will I ever be just a human rights lawyer. Someday I’m going to be an author and poet and performer and professional reader and lawyer and part time superhuman who could take everybody’s pain away and …