Creativity Has To Be Rebellious

When I was a teenager
some people at school called me a rebel.

As far as I can remember, there were two reasons for that:

1) I was speaking my mind.
2) I didn’t always accept to do things the way I was told to do them.
(My parents could tell you a couple of stories because they were not so amused by that attitude of mine).

In my last two years at school I refused to learn school stuff by heart. I refused to prepare for my final Abitur exams and used my time more for other things but more about that later. For sure I could have done better with my degrees back then. However, I came to realise that if I can’t get good degrees with the knowledge I kept in my head without additional memorising work after school, then what’s the point? Speaking my mind, well, I actually didn’t realise I was doing it at school as well until I read the summary about myself in our final year book in 2000.

“Ganz egal wem, wann und wo ... sie sagte ihre Meinung so oder so.”
”It didn’t matter with whom, when and where ...
she shared her opinion either way.”

I can’t deny, yes, I quite liked the idea that I was considered as a “rebel”. That was better than being known to be quiet, shy and way too serious for a teenager which people also said about me by the way. I was more observing and listening than jumping into action; that’s why I was considered shy Additionally, I was less childish than my peers, talked about deep topics and became known for being quite serious, too.

I’ve recently discovered the book “Creativity” by Phillipe Petit. It’s a quick read if you’re interested. He’s saying that creativity has to be rebellious and of course, that resonated with me.

What does it mean to be rebellious? And how does rebellion serve creativity? Let’s have a quick look at what Google and some dictionaries say about being rebellious?

If someone is rebellious, they are difficult to control and do not behave in the way that is expected. (Cambridge Dictionary)
A rebellious person likes to challenge authority and break the rules every now and then.

Breaking rules, being a bit unpredictable, doing unexpected things, challenging others, maybe even provoke them … yes, I like that! Creativity means doing things in new ways, producing something new, putting existing things differently into correlation. It doesn’t necessarily mean being a yes sayer and following a crowd. You challenge. You ask questions. You are brave and you step out of your comfort zone. You acknowledge the concept of conformity but you prefer to do it your own way and that’s good in my eyes. That leads to inspiration, innovation, re-invention, progress, personal growth, movement, competition …

Back to my teenager years, I also loved singing. I was a good singer (thanks mum and dad for paying all the expensive singing classes). But you know, my mum wanted me to be “successful” and tried to convince me that I needed to start covering famous songs to get somewhere with my music. She didn’t understand what music and singing meant to me I think. I got bored by singing the songs of others to be honest and it was easier for me to write and compose my own songs than singing an existing one. Why should I perform “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” in front of a crowd when I can sing my own “Don’t You Know” song that I wrote for my best friend? This friend went through a tough phase. The song was for her to encourage, motivate her to not give up. I thanked her for being a good friend to me. I believed that had more impact than covering a song from someone else. Well, as a result of doing my “own thing” I was also never allowed to join the school band (because they only did covers). But my music teacher pushed me to play and sing my own songs at our school concerts. Yep, I loved that challenge because it wasn’t easy for me to play the piano chords and sing at the same time.

Coming back to the time when I should have studied every day for my final exams, well what did I do? I instead immersed myself in dancing four times a week and writing. We were working on that final year book. We had never done something like that before and my friend Jana brought the idea back from her high-school year in Mesquite, Nevada. Writing yes, loved it! Putting a magazine or book together, oh yes loved it! I learned how to form and lead a group of people working on that book from Jana. I learned how to put it altogether, go into printing and that was adding true value to my life than studying abstract stochastic.

Don’t worry … I did well in my final school exams. I passed them well and I was very relaxed with all that. I wanted to be brave and I wanted to do things differently. I wanted to learn more, truly more and not only “repeat”. That’s why I also chose to write my own story in our German exam than interpreting and analysing poems about the World War II. I was so tired of the war topic. My class mates and I, we were the first generation at our school who had this new option in their final exams and I chose it! I wrote a dialogue about narcissism!

I believe creativity is served well when someone carries a bit of a rebellious attitude to the things he or she is doing. Does creativity has to be rebellious? Yes, please!

1) Share your own creative rebel story with me or email me here: Leave a comment about a time when you did things differently. Love to hear from you!
2) And if you can spare some more time: Listen to this podcast from Creative Rebels!

Phillipe Petit Quote