“There’s a side of my personality that goes completely against the educated person and wants to be a pin-up girl…” Mira Sorvino
Creative people experience complex personalities that can help nurture divergent thinking and openness to experience, which support creative expression, but these traits can also lead to inner conflicts.
“If there is one word that makes creative people different from others, it is the word complexity.”
Creativity researcher and author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced me-high chick-sent-me-high-ee) includes in his books and other writings descriptions of this complexity – the diversity and multiple characteristics of creative people.
Some of the personality qualities he lists are:
A great deal of physical energy alternating with a great need for quiet and rest.
Highly sexual, yet often celibate, especially when working.
Smart and naïve at the same time. A mix of wisdom and childishness. Emotional immaturity along with the deepest insights.
Convergent (rational, left brain, sound judgment) and divergent (intuitive, right brain, visionary) thinking…
Both extroverted and introverted, needing people and solitude equally.
Read more in article The Complex Personality of Creative People.
Also see Csikszentmihalyi’s classic book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, plus his article The Creative Personality: Ten paradoxical traits of the creative personality.
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Mira Sorvino graduated from Harvard magna cum laude with a degree in East Asian Studies. In addition to acting, she supports the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), and is a UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Human Trafficking.
(See text of her poignant version of an interview she did for Media Planet on Modern Day Slavery on her Facebook page.)
In a magazine interview, she commented about the kind of complexity many creative people experience:
“There’s a side of my personality that goes completely against the East Coast, educated person and wants to be a pinup girl in garages across America.
“I don’t know where that comes from, but there’s a side that wants to wear the pink angora bikini; a part that wants to be crazy.
“I’ve never been one of those actors who goes out and lives the dangerous life, and I think there’s a part of me that really wants to do that.
“I don’t want to be self-destructive, but I’d like to be wild. But the sensible part won’t allow it.
“I don’t know if it will ever happen outside the confines of a role.”
Her interviewer comments, “Within a role she does allow herself to cut loose, and the result is often cathartic.
“When learning to become Linda in Mighty Aphrodite, she spent a week in Philadelphia by herself, getting the mannerisms down, practicing the nasally voice, becoming the character.
“She had a grand time masquerading as Linda, and was surprised to see that in many cases strangers responded better to her than they would have to Mira Sorvino.”
From Nice Girls Finish First, Mira Sorvino By Timothy Rhys, MovieMaker Magazine Sept 4, 1995.
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The conflict between head and heart
Jodie Foster has commented, “I can basically put my emotions aside and go headfirst, but it’s something I have to watch, because sometimes I don’t know how I feel about things… Until years later,” she adds, and laughs.
“I am someone who experiences the world through my head, so my psyche’s fight, my whole life, has been the head against the heart. That’s what all my movies are about, too.”
From my article The INTJ Personality and Being Creative.
Unrest and anxiety
Dancer, choreographer and teacher Martha Graham made a powerful statement about the emotional life of creative people:
“No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
From my article Keep the channel open.
That “blessed unrest” can intensify into fear or anxiety for some of us.
There can be many flavors of insecurity, self-criticism, stress and anxiety related to being gifted, talented and creative.
Director Steven Spielberg noted:
“I still have pretty much the same fears I had as a kid. I’m not sure I’d want to give them up; a lot of these insecurities fuel the movies I make.”
Some experiences, such as perfectionism, may help refine our talents. But an overbearing level of it can lead to anxiety and even cripple or stifle our creative passions and expression.
In an interview about his book Mastering Creative Anxiety, creativity coach and psychologist Eric Maisel comments:
“First of all, so much is on the line. For someone who’s self-identified as a writer, painter, composer, scientist, inventor, and so on, [their] identity and ego are wrapped up in how well [they create] – and when what we do matters that much, we naturally get anxious.”
From post Gifted, Talented, Creative, Anxious.
The pleasures of creative expression
“Composing gives me great pleasure… there is nothing that surpasses the joy of creation, if only because through it one wins hours of self-forgetfulness, when one lives in a world of sound.”
Pianist and composer Clara Schumann (1819-1896) – in my post The Joy of Creating.
“The difficulty for me is that I’m interested in so many different things.
“I could never really imagine myself doing one thing, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll end up doing four or five different things.
“I want to be a Renaissance woman. I want to paint, and I want to write, and I want to act, and I want to just do everything.”
Those are quotes by actor Emma Watson, in my article Multitalented and Creative.
Being multitalented or a multipotentialite is another way creative people are complex.