For as long as I can remember I had trouble expressing myself with words. I felt that anything that came out of my mouth would sound stupid, or that no one could understand how I felt. I was afraid to put myself out there, so I tried to take up as little space as possible in a room full of people. Writing was never my strong suit: I fumbled over my words, convinced that I made no sense at all. I froze up at the thought of introducing myself to strangers or having to get up in front of the class to talk. I was so afraid of being seen and heard that I began to bottle my emotions up with no healthy outlet.

I was not in a position where I felt comfortable telling my parents how I felt about anything. I didn’t have many friends, so there wasn’t really anyone I could share my troubles with. I was not particularly close with my siblings either, but there was one thing that I really admired about my older brother: he was a good artist. I took a liking to his art, and thought maybe I could do something like that. One day I picked up a pencil on a whim and I haven’t stop drawing since.

pencil drawing of a tiger

I was obsessed with filling sketchbooks with drawings. I would draw so much that once the notebooks’ pages were filled, I would just draw over the pages again and fill them with more art. I found something that I loved to do, and that helped me to express myself. There was something soothing about feeling the pencil glide across the page. And seeing something I created right in front of me always blew my mind — it made me feel good. I thought to myself, ‘this is what I was meant to do; this is my calling.’ My art didn’t require words; it was based on feelings. I no longer struggled to make my inner life comprehensible: there it was, right there on the page. I could finally articulate how I felt.

With creation as an outlet, I could think of anything and translate it to paper. And there are so many ways one can be creative: writing, acting, drawing, painting, crafting, singing.  There are endless ways that someone can express themselves through a creative outlet. I personally enjoy sketching the most, but have dabbled in other creative arts as well.

young woman painting an art piece

This hobby of mine helped me gain the courage to connect with others. Whenever I felt sad, I would paint a particularly sad piece or write a poem. When I was happy, I would sing along to a catchy song or dance like no one was watching. I am always at my happiest when someone enjoys my artwork. Whenever someone found beauty or joy in my artwork, I resolved to recreate that feeling over and over again.

I wanted to be able to create something that helped me to articulate my feelings. But I found I had the power to inspire others, too, helping them to find their own creative voices. Now you might be reading this and thinking to yourself, “I’m not creative at all!” But I don’t believe there is any wrong way to go about expressing yourself. Art comes in so many forms, and as long as it makes you happy, that is all that matters. Share your art with others! Learn an instrument and write a song! Join an improv class! Start a sewing project! Having a creative hobby can be really fun; it can help you discover talents of your own; and it can help you connect with other people in ways you may never have imagined.

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Art therapy helps children, adolescents, and adults explore their emotions, improve self-esteem, manage addictions, relieve stress, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and cope with a physical illness or disability.

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