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).

So, I refused to learn school stuff by heart in the last two years of my school time. I refused to prepare for my final Abitur exams and I used my time differently but more about that later. I knew that I could have done better with my degrees back then but I thought if I can’t get good degrees without that stupid learning method which didn’t help me to keep the knowledge in my head anyway, 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.”

Sure, I quite liked the idea that someone considered me as a “rebel”. That was better than being known to be quiet, shy or way too serious which they also said about me by the way. I was observing and listening; that’s why I was shy. And I was simply not as childish as some others at my age; that’s why I seemed serious.

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 resonates with me.

What does it meant to be rebellious? And how does that 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 bloody 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 …

Back to the teenager year, I 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 always said that I needed to start covering famous songs to get further with the 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 the hell 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 back then. She went through a tough phase. The song was for her. To encourage and motivate her to keep going and to thank her for being a good friend to me. I thought 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 encouraged and 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 piano and sing at the same time.

Coming back to the time when I should have studied every day for my final exams …. 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 with Jana. I learned how to put it altogether, go into printing etc., and that added more value 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 do things differently. I wanted to learn more and not only “repeat”. That’s why I also chose to write my own story in the German exam than interpreting and analysing poems about the World War II. I was sooo 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 rebel story with me and email me here: Or leave a comment. Love to hear from you!
2) And if you can spare some more time: Listen to this podcast from Creative Rebels!

Phillipe Petit Quote