A couple of years ago, my spiritual community hosted a creative art summer program for kids, and you could see their openness and their willingness to do it all. Whether it was African drumming, collage or watercolor, or tae kwon do or dancing, the kids did it all without hesitation because the whole intention of the program was to develop within them a freedom of self-expression; the allowance of that freedom of self-expression results in an increased self-esteem.
Our intention throughout the program was connection, not perfection. Our intention from the beginning was to see each child from his or her wholeness. When we are little, we explore so many different things. We take a hairbrush, make it a microphone, and sing a song; we act out a character. We do not analyze all the made-up “what ifs” in the moment. We simply stay awake. We put our whole selves in.
We’ll write down a poem we wrote, draw something or we’ll make something out of little to no materials, and somewhere along the way we get into this inner critic, and, from either our own doing or someone else’s, we begin the need to grade and judge ourselves or to say that we don’t measure up. We start to focus on what we perceive or what we have been told is missing. We start wanting to measure the way in which we creatively express, believing that it has to be the best of the best for it to matter. Yet the only thing that really matters is to give our best intention to fully self-express. In order to fully self-express, we must put our whole selves in.