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Turning Pain into Creativity

Initially, I did not want to lift my hands to draw. I did not want to strum those strings I loved. I did not want to move my feet to the rhythm of the music. Every little action was so hard to do when I felt my world collapsing in on itself. I struggled to find my voice when I didn’t have the words to express my emotions. Every day three words repeated in my mind, “I’m so tired,” and I did not see how what I was going through made me stronger.

So how did I manage to turn my hurting and brokenness into art? How did I see beyond my fears and struggles? I realized it was not about changing in an instant, from bad to good, from negative to positive. I hated to hear that everything takes time, and perhaps I never knew exactly what I needed when I was experiencing pain and hurt. It’s not something that goes away magically, and in fact, I still go through periods of pain and hurting, and have difficulty learning to adopt a positive mindset. But what matters is that I can express myself through art and even if it feels like there’s nothing much to build from, I have to allow myself to feel, be, and heal.

1. Allowing myself to feel.

“Why am I not getting better? Why do I feel like this?” Many questions run through my head when I’m going through hard times with negative thoughts about myself, feeling less valued and unattractive. Sometimes I hold on to my pain so hard that I don’t allow myself to feel. It sounds contradictory, but really, it’s like squeezing your hand so tight that it feels numb. Allowing myself to feel may look like having an all out crying session, writing down all my thoughts in a brain fart, or just talking about what’s going on with someone I trust and love. That leads on to allowing myself to be.

2. Allowing myself to be.

Being present. Being there with yourself, being kind to yourself. One of my friends asked me how I would treat myself from the perspective of someone who loves me, and I broke down because I realized that I couldn’t treat myself well like that because I was still struggling to love myself. But it was okay to feel that way, and it was through allowing myself to be in that moment, tears leaking down my face that I found comfort in knowing that I could treat myself better.

3. Allowing myself to heal.

My mother once asked me whether I really wanted change, when I complained that I wasn’t changing, wasn’t getting better. Perhaps deep down, I didn’t want to change because I was so used to the idea of desiring change yet staying the same. Once I recognized that actually I didn’t want change enough to actually change, I began to reflect and ponder. I began to open my heart to art, as cheesy as it sounds, that’s how I began turning pain into creativity.

I had to remind myself that turning pain into art didn’t mean I was competing for something, or comparing my art to others. Instead, it was an expression coming from the depths of my heart, something calling out from within me. It didn’t mean changing instantly, or having to turn to art and creativity every time I felt sad. Instead, allowing myself to be present in the moments of my sadness created a space for me to know that I had the option to express my feelings through creative outlets such as singing and drawing.