Imagination.. A Gift or a Curse??

As I sit here watching my favorite evening shows, (many of which include vast imaginary tales), I began to wonder about something…

Is an active imagination a gift or a curse?

As a child, I had an extremely overactive imagination. Any chance my mind had to wander, it did. Even a short trip to the bathroom in elementary school, I would pretend I was a secret agent, saving the school from evil. Alone in my room, I was anything I wanted to be, wielding magic, ruling a kingdom, healing the world. I thought my ability to create my own unrealistic reality would pass when I got older, but it never did.

Instead, my imagination adapted. I would read a new fantasy book or series and become absorbed inside the pages and the stories. Even when I was old enough to read adult novels, it was the fantasy tales that drew me in the most. The worlds, created by my favorite authors, allowed me to escape whatever troubles or worries I was facing in the real world.

Even as an adult, I still find myself drawn to fantasy. The majority of the books I read, or the shows/movies I watch have a fantasy theme. I have used my imagination in my day job, letting my creativity shine in my creations. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I could take it much further with writing.

But all of this dependency on my imagination and make-believe fantasies to help me cope with life has created a false sense of reality for me. I sometimes dream too large, creating unrealistic expectations and deep depression when things don’t meet those expectations. I also have trouble coping with change or surprises, having intensely imagined my future a specific way. If anything goes awry, I shut down, unable to handle the fact that my fairy tale life may be different than I’ve imagined.

So again, I wonder.. Can having a grand imagination actually be harmful? Can it prevent you from “growing up” and facing the world?

For now, I choose to treat it like a gift, drawing it out as long as I can. As a fiction writer, it’s necessary. But in the future, if I ever decide to stop writing, I wonder if my view on this will change…

~J.D.W.

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