I just finished my junior year of high school, and honestly, I didn’t think I could survive this year without an Amanda Bynes-esque meltdown. This year I was at school pretty late in the evenings because of sports practices and club meetings, which sometimes became overwhelming. At school, I loved talking to my friends and classmates about Tastee and Poussey’s amazing friendship on Orange Is The New Black and the Kimye Vogue spread, but when conversation turned to GPAs and SAT scores, I sometimes became uncomfortable (even if I got a good grade) because I’ve always thought that test scores and grades are private information.
At school, it sometimes feels like there’s no privacy. I’m not talking about it in the sense that our lack of privacy is due to social media or whatever because I personally love letting my Twitter followers know about my eating habits, especially that time I ate 30 mini pierogies in one sitting. I’m talking about how we spend a lot of time at school and it’s hard to get away from gossip and grades. Not to mention, people at school have witnessed our worst selves. Knowing that some of my classmates and teachers have seen me crying and others have seen me power napping during my free period can be a little unsettling. Instead of taking the often useful “fake it ‘til you make it” approach to The Struggle, I discovered a safe space at school where I could do something relaxing.
In the beginning of the winter term, I found an escape to distract me from the stresses of school, especially trigonometry, finding friends to eat with in the dining hall at lunch, and making sure I don’t trip up the stairs on the way to Spanish class (dios mío). So instead of freaking out all the time, I took full advantage of my art class and used painting as an outlet that could help me relax while feeling productive at the same time. I’ve found so much comfort in painting because it allows me to spend time by myself and feel at peace. This really means that I get in my zone and refuse to let myself be distracted by plotting ways to get Drake to notice my existence on social media.
My painting and drawing classroom is tucked away on the third floor of the math building. I took refuge here a lot this past year during free periods and after school where I painted away my feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment, which (naturally) are feelings I’ve gotten pretty used to during my high school years. One afternoon, I went to the art room and worked on a painting of a girl popping a pimple (that’s part of a series I made that I fondly refer to as “The Struggle is Real”) while listening to Waxahatchee, and I felt so complete. The art room is a true shelter for me…even though it’s in the math building, which is a place that I would normally consider a legitimate danger zone.
High school is hard. I feel really #blessed that I’ve had a good overall high school experience so far, but sometimes being alone for a while is necessary for me to function so that I can be a pleasant teen as opposed to a drama queen. Using painting as an outlet has been so helpful for my well-being. Making art is really special because I can turn my Dr. Pepper and Doritos-fueled, sometimes-negative energy into a beautiful product, which makes me realize that even though high school is daunting and seems like it dictates my life path, it’s okay to step away from it all, be quiet, and let my paintbrush do the talking.