Stars n’ Stripes and Rainbows: A Childhood Failure in Creativity

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July 4, 2013 by Lindsay

I’m putting the finishing touches on the first in a multi-part series of posts that will explore the topic of creativity. In the first post of the series, I talk about the fact that while creativity is something we’re all born with, there are certain things we experience as we grow up which begin to inhibit that creativity. This happens to the point where, as adults, many people claim they don’t have any creative ability at all– and are convinced they never have.

The soon-to-be-published first “creativity post” will be available to read later today or possibly tomorrow. In the meantime, I present the following little story from my childhood as an introduction.


Stars n’ Stripes and Rainbows: A Childhood Failure in Creativity

When I was in second grade, I woke up one morning with the fabulous idea of composing my outfit for school around my new gymnastics “team” leotard. It was a long-sleeved, american-flag-themed affair, intended to be worn during competition– and very reminiscent of Mary Lou Retton. I loved that thing.

That morning, I paired it with a pair of red corduroy pants, my belt with the fantastic little plastic rainbow buckle, and some pink jellies shoes. My ensemble was (literally) capped-off by my shiny little bowl haircut. I left my house feeling like a million bucks.

My first clue that others might not fully appreciate the awesomeness of my “look” came pretty quickly when I boarded the bus to school. Instead of the high-fives and rounds-of-applause I’d anticipated, I was met with the dreaded, tunnel-like, sound-wave of giggles and snickering that one can only experience while walking up the aisle of a bus filled with elementary school kids. I think my brother might have pretended he didn’t know me at that point.

Still, I was by no means defeated. My classmates would surely recognize the genius of my outfit. By the time I got to school and walked into my classroom, I was feeling pretty good again. I was wearing stars n’ stripes and rainbows and looked like Mary Lou Retton– for crying out loud– what kid in the mid 1980’s wouldn’t love that? As it turns out, there were at least 24-30 kids in the mid 1980’s who didn’t love it (or however many there actually were in my 2nd grade class).

Aside from another round of widespread giggling when I first walked in, I had to endure an entire day of comments like, “What are you supposed to be?” “Why are you wearing a gymnastics leotard at school?” and, the particularly devastating, “Your belt looks like Preschool.”

Needless to say, I learned to be a bit more subdued with my wardrobe from then on.

This (unfortunately true) story illustrates the idea that most of us, either consciously or subconsciously, learn to stifle our creative side– in part, because of the negative reactions we get when we stray too far from what is considered “normal.” Want to read more about this? It’s on the way– check back soon…


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