“Creativity takes courage.” -Henri Matisse
I believe the arts can be so helpful in overcoming social anxieties because for one, it takes courage. The more we put ourselves out there, the easier and more natural it will be for us. Another reason I think it can help us is because it’s an alternate way of communicating with others and probably an easier way of communicating for those who have many social anxieties. (I say social anxieTIES because I believe almost everyone has social anxieties. I’m not singling out social anxiety which is a serious disorder of which you should receive professional help.)
Every time I think about how much I love music and art and how much it has helped me in my life, I start tearing up a bit… (seriously cheesy sorry.) So here are some ways the arts can help you if you struggle with being socially anxious.
Create and share!
If you love writing, playing music, painting, drawing, taking photos, dancing, or any similar artistic pursuits, just do it! Create! Creating in itself is helpful just for expressing yourself, helping you gain confidence and self-esteem, and giving you an outlet. Don’t JUST create though. Share your work with others. Post those photos you took on Facebook, show a friend or acquaintance your drawings, send that ridiculous love poem you wrote to an ex-lover. (Okay maybe not that last one.) But just sharing your work with others will help you feel more confident in your work, it can help you feel more connected with and understood by others, and will help you little by little get over fears of criticism you may have. If you are criticized, that means people have opinions. Opinions are not fact. (Whaaattt?) So who CARES if they don’t like it?? You put yourself out there and for that you should be proud!
Go to music/art events
Like concerts? Music festivals? Art shows? Poetry readings? Open mic nights? (The list goes on…) These are wonderful opportunities to practice your people skills and strike up conversations. If it is something you love and have knowledge and passion for, it will be easier for you to talk about than something you don’t care for. (like the weather… ugh small talk.) “Hey, I saw this band at Coachella last year they were sick.” “Hey, I really love that poem you read. What inspired you?” “That’s a really nice oil painting. Is that your favorite medium to use?” The more you practice, the better you get! And what better way to get practice than talking about things you love and know about?
Join a community
If you play an instrument join a band or orchestra. If you like reading, find or create a book club. If you like gardening, join a gardening club. If you like dancing, join a dance team or register for a dance class. A great resource to use is meetup.com! You can create or join meet up groups for all kinds of things such as writing groups, classical music lovers, creative entrepreneurs, etc.This website is awesome and so easy to use. You can also sign up for classes in your community. Pottery, painting, dance… Try researching what your community has to offer! Being in a community of like-minded people who share your interests and hobbies will not only help you with social anxieties, it will help you stay productive and inspired!
I’m not saying doing these things will be easy. Some aren’t easy even for people who don’t consider themselves socially anxious… but it will be worth it. Usually the things that are most challenging for us are the most rewarding and the things we learn the most from. If you’re afraid what other people might think or say, well… what a wonderful opportunity to practice not caring what the heck people think of you! So get out there with your awesome creative self and create stuff!
10:58-the end of this video includes a WONDERFUL segment about Daniel, a 6 year old who has selective mutism (a type of social anxiety disorder) who is involved in dance. Usually children with selective mutism will NOT want to be around a group of other people, but Daniel actually really enjoys dance. His teacher even says it’s good for him because it is through movement that he expresses himself rather than talking. Made me tear up a little… :’)
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