Since I've been in College I have stopped seeing a therapist. I know this isn't the best and that I definitely should be seeing one, but the truth is that I've felt like I haven't needed one. Maybe this is because I've found better friends, ones that I know will be there for me to talk about everything, or because I've just been too busy to stop and think. But when I do give myself time to stop and think it usually involves art.
I love to draw and paint, and it has been something I've done nearly my entire life. I would take art classes after school each week and even was a member of my high school's art program. But back then I never would just draw for the fun of it in my free time or to really just enjoy it.
Until I got to college. I remember my last day at my art studio back at home when my teacher gave me a brand-new sketchbook she had hand painted the cover of for me to take to college. She told me not to stop drawing and doing art, as she said I had a real eye for it. I remember packing it with my paints and pencils and my other things for college, saying "maybe I'll take these just in case," not sure that I'd actually have the time to use it.
But upon being in college I've found art as a way to stop, slow down and just rest while listening to music or running through my thoughts and emotions in my head. While I haven't finished a drawing or painting yet, as for me it isn't about finishing the project, it's about the thought, purpose and time behind each piece.
The biggest thing I've struggled with in the past year is change. The drastic changes in my family and my friends. The change of going to college. The change of my path in life. I've learned to love and lose things. Through all this, I've found a love of drawing places I've been to or family pictures of my siblings, my cousin, and I from when we were just kids. I dedicate each piece to a specific person or a specific memory that I would like to preserve. The person I dedicate it to might not ever see the piece finished, but for me, that's part of the beauty behind it like I am creating something timeless through the world around me will change. Ironically, the piece that details a specific moment in time will probably never be finished. It's a reminder to me that the past is the past, and only by venturing into the future can we tell the full story and see the full picture.
So while someone who opens my sketchbook will see an unfinished drawing, they're really so much more than that. In fact, if you were to flip the page over to the back you might find a stray song lyric, a capture of a passing thought, or an unfinished "thank you" or prayer.
Art is therapy. Art can be so much more than just a few paint strokes on a paper. It's about the artist, a reflection of themselves or of the way they see the world.
In fact, art itself is nationally recognized as a unique form of therapy by many therapists and psychologists around the world. And it's not just for little kids. You don't have to be "good" at art to receive something from it. What matters is that you find something that encourages you to relate your emotions to the world and brings you peace in the middle of a storm.
Therapy can be whatever you make it, whether it is actually going to see a therapist, talking to a friend, or doing an activity. Whatever it is I encourage you to make time for it, put effort into it, and pursue it—your mental health and emotional state of being are what everything else stems from.