Color outside the lines by finding your creative outlet

Illustration of three people painting graffiti onto a wall, by Margueritte Ross
Margueritte Ross/File

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One of the most disappointing things that I learned about myself during the lockdown last year was that when I finally had the time to do all the things that I would do “if I only had the time,” I somehow still didn’t have the time. My aspirations to start painting, practice the piano and learn to dance continued to collect dust as I preoccupied myself with watching movies, social media and honestly, just being lazy. When I finally had all the time in the world (or so it seemed), I still didn’t make it a priority to find ways to pursue creative activities that would help my artistic self-expression. Once I realized this, I began to make an active effort to find artistic and creative outlets. 

It soon became one of the most important things I could’ve done for myself during this time. Especially being in school now, oftentimes, our studies restrict creativity and instead enforce guidelines, a format, a formula. In my personal experience in a STEM field, it is even more difficult to find the ability to be creative, especially while being enrolled in the large prerequisite classes that don’t have time or space for creativity.

Creating space for yourself to be creative is essential. So much of our lives are already dictated by school, work, family, friends and societal standards. It seems like there are so many rules, so many things to remember and so many things to do right or wrong. Creating an environment that encourages you to use your creativity and pushes you to go beyond normative boundaries is so important. 

I refuse to let my personality be usurped by my classes and major. I want to be well-rounded, with unique interests and hobbies that exemplify the many other sides to myself. I found that when I came to college, I had a lack of creative skills because school had taken over so much of my life. It frustrated me so much. I had become so closed off to other experiences in high school because I was so focused on academics and college. I wish I had developed a skill in something that I enjoyed and something that pushed me to become more creative and artistic. 

A creative outlet can look different for everyone. Yours doesn’t have to be extremely time-consuming or niche, it can literally just be doodling or coloring. Over the lockdown and into the school year, my outlet was yoga and crochet. Just find something that doesn’t have a right or wrong way to complete or enjoy it. It should be an activity that becomes more special as you become more creative and push more artistic boundaries. Writing, singing, movement, filmmaking, cooking, are only some options to name a few.

I hope that this semester you can create time for yourself outside of work, school, clubs and other time-consuming commitments. Part of being young is to explore the different and unique parts of your personality and interests. Now is the time to experiment and develop those kindling passions you’ve tucked away for so long.

Contact Paloma Torres at [email protected].