This is the second post in a new blog series highlighting the experiences and expertise of Brampton's Multicultural Youth Council, an organization run by youth, for youth with the goal of celebrating cultural diversity and providing the youth of Brampton, Ontario with opportunities to develop awareness of and respect for a variety of cultural backgrounds. In this second installment, BMYC Tech Director Gracie Xia discusses self-expression through art and the process of finding the right medium for you.
I am not a talkative person. I know it, my friends know it, everyone I meet knows it. Sure, at a first encounter I can take out my people face, be outgoing, nod and force myself to talk, but I find that very tiring. Growing up, I often found myself at the back of the classroom, never the one to raise her hand or to speak her mind. I kept everything to myself; my mind was always really loud, but only I could hear it. It was difficult for me to express myself through words, so I immersed myself in other activities such as music and art. Through these mediums, I soon found a way to express myself and even learned a few lessons about culture. Hopefully, reading about my journey of self-expression will be useful to you as you embark on your own.
1. Thinking about your interests
Self-expression isn't as easy as just picking up a paintbrush or an instrument and suddenly realizing that it's your life's passion. It doesn't work that way for most people. Usually finding your own medium is a process that comes naturally - don't force yourself. Start by assessing the things you're interested in, your hobbies, and what you're comfortable doing. Everyone has a medium that works best for them. It may not be visual art; it may be acting, singing, or even solving a Rubik's Cube. It doesn't matter what form it comes in - just know that once you discover it, you should grab on to it, mould it, and make it your own.
2. Overcoming the obstacle of perfectionism
Different people encounter different obstacles, but for most, the first barrier will be the hardest to overcome. Take me as an example: I grew up learning how to draw and make music. However, I soon realized that after gaining all of this artistic and musical "skill," I still had no creativity. The problem with learning through structural teaching is that it instills a fear inside of you. That fear is imperfection. That was my obstacle. I was trying so hard to be perfect that I couldn't grasp the idea that art is imperfect. Every mistake, fault and error is a form of art. The most difficult part for me during my journey to self-expression was breaking free of that box. It gets easier after that!
3. Practice makes perfect and learning is always worth it
After overcoming my fear of imperfection, I started expressing my ideas through my medium, the medium that worked for me. If I didn't know how to explain something, I could just draw it. It might not always turn out looking exactly like what I imagined it to be, but the product is an actual idea and a solid thought expressed. Soon after, I established an audience of classmates, teachers, friends and family. Expressing myself through art and sharing that expression with others was a new feeling for me, and it remains a never-ending learning experience, as I'm constantly improving and learning new techniques. The process of artistic expression motivates me in ways that I could never have imagined. For example, art requires many techniques, and in order to acquire those skills I researched them at my library. To my surprise, I ended up learning not only the skills themselves but also the history behind them. I gained knowledge of the history of art, the different styles of artwork that belong to different cultures, the similarities and differences between these styles, and the influence art has had on humanity. Now, not only do I know about my own medium, I'm also aware of the mediums that many others have developed and used to shape the world today. The discovery of my own form of self-expression has helped me begin to face my problems, head-on and strong.
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