After school, my seven-year-old spent the afternoon and evening working on his new comic story. He created a comic about a boy who accidentally fell into a Minecraft portal. The boy has to defend himself against Creeper and the weird zombie things. (If you know about Minecraft, then you know what I’m talking about). My son declined requests to play from his four-year-old brother. Instead, my eldest son sat on the couch with a piece of paper, a pencil, and his imagination virtually all evening until bath-time. My husband and I were excited and impressed by his focus.
The next day, I received an email from Amazon about a shipment. My “Learn How to Draw Comics” book was on its way. My husband had ordered it. It’s a cycle we have both participated in that goes like this: Child shows interest in something. We get excited. We buy something to encourage the child’s interest in said something. Child’s interest in said something ends. Repeat steps with new something.
I felt uncomfortable, but I didn’t understand why buying a book felt so wrong. After all, the book was only ten dollars. And my husband was doing something to encourage our son. What’s the big deal?
The problem was that while encouraging our son, we were simultaneously sending the message that his own ingenuity and creativity weren’t enough. We were communicating that learning new things requires the use of external tools and resources that he did not already possess.
Learning materials have their place, and there is nothing innately wrong with purchasing them. At some point, however, the commercialization of learning stifles creativity. The biggest danger is in forgetting that we are our own most valuable resource.
When faced with a challenging new project, it becomes easy to forget that we are enough. There is a desire to search for answers in the latest New York Times best seller, or consult friends and family to seek validation of an idea. We convince ourselves that we lack training or experience despite having multiple degrees as proof to the contrary. We delay developing something new out of fear that we lack sufficient education, training, experience, or the right contacts.
I am guilty of forgetting that I am enough. I forget that I already have the tools to take action on my next step. I forget that most of the time, all I need is a piece of paper, a pencil, and my imagination. I am grateful for the reminder.
In case you are like me and need to be reminded, you are enough just as you are. Trust yourself.