A Round Peg In A Square Hole

When I was a teenager I believed I could be happy doing the same thing for the rest of my life. It took me a while to find out that I was wrong.

On my 30th Birthday I was stood on a hillside in the middle of Wales, part way through one of the most boring and frustrating jobs of my life, having achieved my ambition of becoming a professional opera singer. I’d wanted to sing since I was 3 years old. The one thing that kept going through my mind was “Is this it?” Having studied for 7 years, with work in the diary and a career underway I realised that BEING an opera singer was different from WANTING TO BE an opera singer. I thought it was going to be creative and glamorous, it turned out that it was more often repetitive and frustrating. The industry had decided who I was and if I wanted to find success within its definition of what that meant, I could see a long road of revivals of Barber of Seville stretching away into my 50’s. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but in that moment I realised that was not who I was. When life feels stale, GET CREATIVE. In my case this meant finding a way out of mainstream arts.

There is a belief that creativity is about The Arts, but that’s not true. When The Arts become confined by the constructs of industry it becomes like any other business – conformist, hierarchical, elite and disempowering. In order to remain profitable it will swing between the extremes of playing it safe, or wild sensationalism, following the latest fad rather than being true to itself. In my experience of mainstream opera, art loses its creativity when it has nothing authentic to say.

Just because you are DOING art, doesn’t mean you are BEING creative. Doing and Being are two very different things.

So if creativity is not about The Arts, what is it? A quick internet search reveals that creativity is…

“the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations”

I think it is in this area of transcending traditional ideas that things become most interesting. In this context, what I think of as “traditional” is bound up with the maintenance of the status quo – the “this is how we do it” mentality that stays stuck in outdated ideas of how the world works. If we do not continuously examine ourselves to find out how we really think and feel about our world and open up to new influences and other points of view, life becomes nothing more than HABIT, unchanging, unchallenging, unbelievably boring.

Creativity, therefore, is about EVOLUTION. It takes us further down the road of what it means to be fully alive, fully conscious and fully ourselves.


That moment of realising I simply wasn’t what the classical singing industry thought I ought to be was the start of a long journey of establishing an identity of my own. The more difficult I found it to FIT IN, the more I realised that I just didn’t FIT. I was a round peg trying to squeeze into a very square hole. Pointless. Going round in circles. Unfulfilled.

To find success on my own terms I had to make a hole of my own.

Have you made yours?

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