Hana Shafi Give Art A Chance*

I have a bit of a bad habit: I’m a chronic doodler. I think I’ve doodled on every sheet of paper I’ve ever been given. And any notebook that was strictly for class notes and to-do lists are filled with caricatures of my friends and I. In lecture, checking into Facebook and then writing lectures notes is at least doable; once I start doodling, I zone out completely. 

But it’s not really a bad habit. Well, it is when my lack of lecture notes means I have little study material for the midterm, but I’ve gained some self-control in those scenarios. Is it crazy to say that doodling has saved my life? 

We all know by now that art is a form of self-expression. But self-expression doesn’t even begin to encapsulate what art can do for a person. It might be a simple release of emotions, pent-up sadness or burning creativity, but it does so much more than that. Art, in whatever medium you fancy, is necessary. Art is therapy. It won’t solve all your problems, but I’m convinced that it, at the very least, eases the crushing weight of those problems. Without art, I think my life would have already been completely swallowed by stress, anxiety, and depression. 

And I’m sure some of you are cringing as you reminisce about your subpar stick man; or maybe the last thing you drew was the little square house, with a triangular roof, and the chimney churning out puffs of smoke into a blue sky. But even if you feel like you cannot create the best art, doesn’t mean that art is not an integral part in your life. We take in art everyday, in some form or the other. The music you listen to, your clothing, the graffiti-covered wall you pass on your day to work. We often don’t notice these things; we become desensitized to the sights around us because we’ve been told we can only find happiness in things huge and grand and luxurious. But art is simple and art is everywhere.

I encourage my friends who think they’re awful at drawing to doodle something anyways. I encourage my friends who think they’re awful at writing to write a short poem. It doesn’t have to be the best. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be good. That’s now what art is about; it’s simply about release, it’s about exploration, and it’s about venturing into the unchartered territories of your mind. There are some people who are going to be gain praise for what they create, but just because you don’t gain praise, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Remember, it’s not for anyone else. If nothing in your life has ever been entirely for you, then let this be. 

Of course, everyone has their own forms of self-expression and therapy. Maybe it’s not in writing or drawing or dancing or singing. But all I’m saying is, give art a chance. And believe me, once you leave the conventional ideas of “good art” and “bad art” behind, you might surprise yourself. 

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