creative firsts

The world can’t seem to get enough of firsts. First steps, first day of school, first kiss, first day at a new job. We spend a lot of time being excited about firsts.

But why? What is special about first times?

Firsts are special because you can never have that experience again.

With that, comes the second part; you never HAVE to have that experience again.

Firsts are not inherently enjoyable. More often than not, they are just plain overwhelming. A first day at a new job might be an exciting beginning to a new adventure, but it will also be the day when you meet 100 new people, get lost on your way to the toilet and can’t figure out where to refrigerate your chicken sandwich.

Like most things, firsts will be a mixed bag.

The same thing is true of creative firsts.

A significant creative first for most of us here will have been creating our first creative application or portfolio. Mine was for studying composition at University. It doesn’t matter how many more applications and portfolios I prepare in my lifetime, that will always be my first.

Looking back, I was utterly clueless. That folio is one of the strangest pieces of work I have ever compiled. But do you know what? I never have to relive that experience again. That creative first has come and gone, and I am relieved.

When I was working on that portfolio, there were so many times when I could happily have changed my mind about what I was doing. I could have pressed pause; decided I wasn’t ready yet. I could have scrapped everything over and over, restarting permanently till the deadline was long gone. Or I could have simply given up.

But somehow in these firsts, we’re brave. We see that it might be terrible. That we might fail. And somehow, like a child learning to walk, we think that the benefits outweigh the risks. And we live for the day that we are finally right.

And now, I never have to go through that first again. That experience is gone, I’ve learnt from it, and will be better at it next time. Compiling that first portfolio helped prepare me to compile my current online portfolio.

The challenge here is this: if you wait for the perfect moment to experience your first, and expect your first to be the most incredible thing you have ever seen, you will never finish experiencing it.

First are just the beginning. They’re not always meant to be amazing. But, 100% of the time, they lead somewhere better than nevers; because at least they lead somewhere.

Jenny Guilford / Jena Ren – 2022

This post was originally published February 2020.

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