When I was fifteen years old I had a teacher who would repeatedly shout 'Presentation is important!' He taught graphic design, a lot of which is about precision and style. He was not interested in our ideas, he was interested in how professional they looked. He was not interested in creativity. I also had a chemistry teacher who would throw out the big, elaborate doodles that I would create while trying to understand his complex explanations of scientific theories. He would tell me 'This is not chemistry! This is rubbish!'
At university, I studied English Language and Literature. I had always been obsessed with reading. It was a way to simultaneously escape and understand the world I was living in. This led to some problems – reading a book while walking to school can be risky when you are crossing roads!
I was very surprised when I noticed that my tutor at university doodled during our lessons together. She liked to draw shapes: squares, circles, triangles ... anything that she could methodically recreate as she listened to our discussions on literature. As someone who had spent every lesson during my teenage years creating little drawings, I understood that her doodling did not mean she was not listening.
At university, I realised that creativity is something that will follow me throughout life. From the simple doodles that we create when we are daydreaming to the complicated pieces of art we form after years of hard work, it is important to remember to take a moment to relax and express yourself.
This year I am living in Spain and it has been harder to find the time to be creative on a personal level. I find myself drawing on old bits of paper and writing scraps of poetry on the bus. However, one advantage to teaching a foreign language is that you have to be creative all the time. People ask me questions I have never even thought about, and I have to fight to keep the language interesting for them.
Living abroad is a constant challenge in creativity. Every moment in a foreign language can be a challenge and you must learn to respond quickly with the limited language skills you have. You must learn new words, new faces, new ideas and new places. Despite the fact that I haven't had the time to sit down and be creative, I feel like my life now revolves around the process.
Do you think that creativity is important? How do you express your creativity?