Can a Chemical Engineer be a Creative?

This is a question I’ve been pondering for several months now.

Up until recently, my worldview was quite narrow and those that felt outside of my bubble weren’t ‘on the right path’. I had little personal experience with creative people and it was difficult for me to understand that mentality and lifestyle.

As I’ve learned more about being creative and the realities that exists around me, I’ve been drawn to expressing myself in a more creative manner. So drawn, in fact, that I’ve been working really hard to become a writer. Just typing that statement feels exhilarating and terrifying.

It was fortuitous timing, I believe, that led me to this TED talk. Here, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, discusses genius and how to relate to our creative center. I connected with this talk because she specifically mentioned that her dad was a chemical engineer. She is dead on when she says nobody every asks a chemical engineer if they’re on a safe path.

Elizabeth Gilbert TED Talk

The more I’ve learned, the more I feel like perhaps there’s another side to who I am. I’ve been scientific and analytical for so long that my creative side has atrophied. I’ve been working hard to workout my creativity muscle (it’s next to your flactoid har-har!) and expand my experiences.

Can a chemical engineer be a creative person? I’ve never met one that was prolific in the arts. Da Vinci certainly was and look at what a badass he turned out to be. Maybe engineering the uncommon for me means learning to become a creative person, whether that’s as a writer, painter, sculptor, designer, or whatever.

It’s absolutely foreign to me, and yet it’s fiendishly fascinating. I’ve said for a while now that I would have no problems graduating with a Ph.D. and then never using it again. Perhaps this is a step in that direction. Is it the right one? Who knows. But it certainly feels like it


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2 Responses to Can a Chemical Engineer be a Creative?

  1. Adam March 18, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Taylor, I think everyone is a creative. Over time, we’ve pigeonholed that term to mean ONLY artists or writers. By hitting the publish button on this blog, you ARE a writer. You wrote something, and I’m reading it. That’s proof enough. And it’s awesome. I think you’re on to something when you asked what kind of creative you want to be instead of if you are a creative person or not.

    • Taylor April 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

      Thanks for this comment Adam! I somehow missed it during my hiatus.

      I think we really are creative, but some of us are more in tune with our creativity than others. It’s exciting and scary to me to be getting back in touch with that side of myself. But I love it!

      And you’re right, I am a writer. For me to fully believe that and accept I know I need to do two things: keep writing, and keep saying it. Thanks!

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