Author: Ali Roberts
When I was just entering middle school, my parents were getting a divorce. It was a difficult time for my family, and the added pressure of going into a new grade didn’t help. While I split time spent between my mother and father, I never felt completely whole at either one of their houses. While I was at my mom’s, I felt productive and semblances of accomplishment, whether it was things from school, or music. But I always felt a sense of loneliness and absence of fun. I felt like I wasn’t able to fully be myself and that I couldn’t express myself to the fullest. On the other hand, my time with my dad was always fun. We enjoyed each other’s company so much, but I felt a missing sense of guidance. I felt too free sometimes, felt like I was missing some of the more important lessons a child my age should learn.
For a long time, I felt this way at both places, and school offered no outlet for me. Most people say middle school is a difficult time, and it certainly was the case for me. I kept myself busy with Jazz band and sports, but I felt like I was just getting swept away in the current. I fell into this mindless slump of going back and forth between my two homes and my two separate lives. I stopped taking care of myself. I didn’t find any joy or fun in sports anymore, and I stopped putting any care into how I dressed or did my hair. I felt trapped, in a way, and I didn’t know how to get out. I felt like this feeling of emptiness followed wherever I went, and I wasn’t able to shake it. I didn’t have any way of expressing myself until around 7th grade when I started to get interested in drawing.
When growing up, nearly every child will, at some point, draw, whether it’s at school or at home. Back then, it was just another activity for me to do, the same as playing with toys or reading. But those who continue to do it later on in life find that it has other “effects” on someone.
When I started drawing in middle school, I found a strange sense of accomplishment and pride in creating something entirely unique. Now that I’m older, I’ve found that art allows me to not only express myself but also to expel negative emotions that I feel.
See, when I draw it feels almost like a state of meditation.
I feel myself confined only to the small space I inhabit, while simultaneously being extremely aware of what is in front of me. Drawing is a skill, like anything else, and while some are more adept at it than others, it requires practice like anything else. The key aspect that really made it for me, though, was that drawing practice was fun. Whether I was drawing something from my head or doing exercises I found online, I was always enjoying myself. Anytime I felt down or alone, I just started to draw and I found my escape.
This is something everyone needs to find. That thing that can make you happy, truly happy, just from doing it. I think often people worry about what others think and have an idea of what should really make people happy, but the truth is that you can pay attention to that. If you find something you enjoy, be it art, dance, singing, or sports, make sure you find it and stick with it. For me, drawing started as something I did to relax and energize myself, and it has been amazing to see the progression in not only my art skills but also my level of happiness. Finding a hobby that has made me happy has allowed for me to care for myself in other factors like health and fitness and allowed for improvement in my other interests.
In my time at the Plus One Foundation, I’ve seen how others can grow in the same way I did, through art. I’ve felt the effects firsthand, but it feels miraculous to see others also experience the joy and benefits from it as well. And now, I feel so fortunate to be able to use those same art skills I’ve developed to be able to help such a wonderful cause that is aiding people get the same care and activity that I got. Being able to do something I love and help a great cause at the same time is the best feeling in the world. Our clients who use art as therapy know firsthand the effects of how art, or really any activity that you love, can change your mindset and feelings on everything around you for the better.
Not everyone finds joy in art, but something out there in the world will surely make you happy. Just make sure you take the time to look for it, because it can do more good for you than you think.