Anxiety, stress, fear, whatever it’s called, I have it. For now, I’ll refer to it as stress. Stress makes up a majority of my life in a sense that it motivates me to complete things to the best of my ability, while also keeping me focused. It’s what keeps me awake and alive. This sounds cliched but, for me, it’s an important trait that defines me.
I don’t think stress is great. Believe me, I don’t like stressing out, whether it’s what I want to eat for dinner, writing essays, taking tests, or doing homework on time. In the past, stress seemed like something that could destroy my life.
For a while, I would stress immensely over the smallest things. It would start developing the most when I was given homework assignments or projects. These assignments could require very little work to be done. In the moment, however, that one homework assignment or that one project was all I needed to start imagining situations in which I fail. With that in mind, I would have to force myself to get my work done. My end results would show that I didn’t put much thought into my work. The stress over my work being done was more influential than the stress of its quality being good. Every day could hold unwanted stress. If I was told of an assignment, my mind would take the new information and I would convince myself that this assignment was a high priority. When written, my assignment list would read as follows: “Biology chapter 7 summary was due tomorrow; English paper was due next class; Math test was on Thursday, History project should be completed by next Wednesday.” In my mind, however, every project was due tomorrow. At this point, I usually gave up on assignments.
Then, I found the solution. I needed to be creative. I discovered this when I took a drawing class and found many of the other students creating masterpieces. However, the students all would give feedback to each other. Whether it was out of pity or not, they all said that art seems to be something that comes naturally to me. After the class, I started drawing and 3D modeling at home.
One particular piece that was engaging me was my lung shoe project. I needed to show awareness to some form of negative power in the world, using only shoes. For me, this was something I felt could be special. Hours of thinking and planning led me towards my final idea: a piece that shows the effects of smoking. Lungs could be made from the shoes I had. A flat surface with the supporting bone structures drawn on it could be the backdrop. Cigarette butts could be put in the holes of the shoes. I asked my art teacher, Mrs. Rudolph, if there were any cigarettes I could have. I made sure to tell her I wasn’t looking to smoke and she said she could ask for some from people she knew. After a couple of days, I was given an entire ziploc bag of used cigarettes. The Ziploc bag couldn’t hold in the stench. Burnt nicotine was filling my nose while my head was filling with both disgust and excitement. I covered the shoes in an ashen color and glued them to the background. The outcome was more than I could ever have hoped for. My feeling of accomplishment had replaced my stress from earlier. What was I stressing about? I couldn’t remember. Probably something about food. I was successful in calming down, which was only accomplished through art.
Soon, I found that the reason my own self-esteem was rising was due to me releasing my stress through art. After all, I’m already good at thinking of imaginary situations to put myself in. So, why not put a character in that situation instead? And create a solution for these characters by making them come to life.
Art has now become the main way I decompress and relax.