The first and foremost point of this writing is that there is no such thing as an untalented student. Especially when it comes to forms of expression – or what we call “Art.” Some readers are naysayers and will steadfastly swear that they have absolutely no talent, but have they looked at some of the modern forms of expression? It is not about strict forms of accurately reproducing a life form or image. It is about expressing feelings, thoughts, and events. The other purpose of art is to feel good. That is the focus of this writing. Using art forms to successfully handle our environment and relieve stress.
Many times we feel we lose control of our lives when we are going to school, especially if we are students that are ‘low man on the totem pole’ or if someone else is dictating our schedules. We spend many hours on the floor, or bent over a book, or sitting in class, or a combination of all three. Layer that on top of feeling stress over a lack of power or respect from faculty, and you can begin to develop battle fatigue.
Ways to relieve some of this stress can come in several forms, and one that can really help a medical student let go of anxiety while expressing some of the inner conflicts and stresses is through music, painting, dancing, writing prose or poetry, sculpting, cooking or shooting photos. One of the great things about expression is that there are no guidelines for “good” or “bad”. Whatever makes you feel good is what defines how wonderful the art is. One suggestion is putting on some fun music and moving your limbs wherever they feel like going without worrying what it looks like to anyone else. Just free expression to feel good. It doesn't have to attract a mate or win a competition--it just has to be fun and make you feel good inside. The best thing is to let yourself go without caring what anyone else thinks. Getting lost in the movement and the music and expressing your feelings of the moment. Of course, dancing at any level is a wondrous event whether it is with a dance group with carefully choreographed moves or going out Saturday night or alone in your living room. If you feel good doing it – then it is accomplishing its purpose.
Get some brushes and some inexpensive acrylic paints (they clean up with water) and a canvas or paper and just let go. Start by drawing something first if you like or you can start by just putting paint on the canvas. Squirt it on, shake it on, glob it on, splash it on – there are no rules. Glue things on the canvas, put holes in it, tie ribbon on it. Whatever makes you get those feelings out and on the canvas. Maybe it will tickle your funny bone with its whimsy or irreverence. Perhaps you will want it grab the gut with its poignancy or tug at heartstrings with its emotion. The important thing is that you get to decide what colors and shapes express that emotion and putting it on the canvas makes you feel good.
You don't have to be a musician or be able to carry a tune. If beating an indeterminate rhythm on a drum, making dogs howl with the tinny whistle of a recorder, or playing a mournful tune on a harmonica improves your mood--do it. Welcome the endorphins and apologize to your neighbors later.
We have met several medical students in the past four years that have an avid interest in the culinary arts. The creation of dishes, the mixing of ingredients, the discovery of flavors, and presentation of meals gives them great joy. It provides an opportunity to commune with friends, allows them to create and communicate their feelings through taste and presentation, and provides the satisfaction of completion and control that might not be available at the workplace at certain times.
So we encourage you to express yourself through art. Take a chance in just trying something new with a minimal amount of monetary investment. Share with us your art endeavors and how you have found to communicate your feelings, improve your mood, get rid of anxieties, and feel satisfied.