Creativity is a force as old as humanity itself ans so is creative mindset. From the high-tech marvels of modern society to the humble paintings that adorned the walls of bohemian cave dwellers, many of us are driven to dream, visualize, and express ourselves. The method of that expression varies with the artist and frequently within the art itself, but the urge will not be denied. It is primal.

From the time you were a small child, you probably exhibited such creative tendencies, much like previews of coming attractions at your favorite theater. Maybe you walked around the house singing and dancing. Perhaps you told stories or made clay statues. You might have even been moved to draw big red hearts on the living room wall with red crayons when Valentine’s Day rolled around. I wouldn’t recommend the last one unless you enjoy having close encounters of a parental kind. Don’t ask me how I know.

You are not a creative creature because you chose to be. Much like the color of your hair and the shape of your nose, you’re stuck with it. You can no more make it go away than you can force your heart to stop beating by clicking your heels together. That’s a good thing, too, for the result in either case would be disastrous. For most of us who feel these urges, they are a core part of our being.

You can, of course, change the color of your hair if you like, but sooner or later the real thing will reassert itself with the tenacity of an underfed bulldog. Many creative people, often referred to simply as creatives in the high-dollar advertising world of Madison Avenue, will try to deny this part of their nature. Sometimes they’re frustrated with the difficulties of trying to make a living doing what they love. Other times they just want to fit in and have a normal life. However, try as you might to avoid it, sooner or later your true colors will fly.

You can’t hide or ignore your artistic flair. Passion will always find a way out. The sooner you give in, the sooner you can figure out how to make a living doing what you love.

To some extent, creative skills can be learned. You can read a book, watch a video, go to school, or just spend time with someone who’s further down the road than you. These mechanics are necessary to express yourself well but they are not the art. They are merely the tools you use to bring forth the desired results.

You can teach a chimpanzee to paint, but that doesn’t make it a painter any more than flipping switches in a tin can makes one an astronaut. Neil Armstrong’s dramatic last-minute piloting of the Apollo 11 lunar module saved the day and made a successful moon landing possible. Our small furry friend could have wiggled the same joystick but the result would have been less joyful.

Passion and inspiration distinguish the true creative. They are the source from which all creative endeavors flow. Without a doubt, you must also have the technical skills to bring that dream to life or you’re just a passionate primate. Nonetheless, this rocket fuel of the soul is what makes software developers spend days working without sight of a bed in pursuit of their vision. It’s the reason musicians are willing to sleep on floors as long as they can make it to the next gig. As a creative, you know what it’s like to come to the point where you weigh the benefits of spending that last dollar on food or something that will further your art. Food rarely wins.

The life of a drug addict is nothing compared to that of a creative creature. With the possible exception of love, there is no greater addiction or dependency on the planet than the never-ending pull of artistic urges. In fact, the history of people both great and ordinary is replete with examples of love coming in a distant and winded second to the passion of someone’s creative pursuits. To say that our artistic compulsion can be disruptive to a normal and healthy personal life is an exercise in understatement.

And yet, we persist. We spend time and money we don’t have to enable our addiction. I was going to call it a “hobby,” but that simply doesn’t do it justice. If you asked the average creative if he’d rather have a long and healthy life or create a brilliant masterpiece, he’d have to think about it. We’re not always the most logical of beings.