Note: this post was originally written for an assignment.
Throughout history, humans have engaged in myriad creative practices. From ancient Greek poetry to Renaissance art, these practices have served a variety of purposes. One such purpose is self-expression. Being able to actively express yourself is essential for health and wellbeing, and is closely related to creativity. The way self-expression has been explored has changed dramatically over the last fifty years, and has reflected various aspects of culture and society.
For example, the punk movement of the 1970s was a fusion of fashion, music and art that was born from a political ideology. Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and her partner Malcolm McLaren (manager of the Sex Pistols) were at the forefront of the punk movement. The couple ran a clothing store named SEX, which specialised in unconventional and controversial fashion. The iconic Sex Pistols wore Westwood’s clothing and popularised what became the punk image. Often considered the Mother of Punk, Westwood’s designs defined the image of punk and represented the greater political movement that was occurring. Cultural movements such as this were significant, as they helped pave the way for freedom of expression today.
Another factor that has influenced the way we express ourselves is social media. Of all of the changes to our culture, the development of social media has been one of the most significant. In the past, if an individual wanted to express their opinion they would have to either physically tell someone or send a letter. Now, people have the media at their fingertips and can express their opinion to large networks of people instantly. Platforms such as Instagram and YouTube are extremely valuable marketing tools for artists, musicians, or business owners as they can be used to gain a following and promote a brand. In many cases, individuals have gained so many followers that they are able to make profits by advertising products and brands on their social media accounts. For most people, however, social media is just a fun way of sharing moments and thoughts with friends and followers. Personally, I love to use Instagram as I can select and display images that I find aesthetically pleasing, and express myself to the world. While the development of social media has many benefits, it also has a dark side.
In a society dominated by social media, it is very easy to forget what is real. It is easy to get lost in the haze of other peoples’ lives and compare yourself to others. It has become a common belief that if you do not get a certain amount of ‘likes’ on a post, then you are not good enough. Not interesting enough. There is a constant search for approval from people that we don’t even really know. This outlook on life is unhealthy, and a scenario that most of us know too well. I often find myself scrolling through the images of an Instagram account, and ending up feeling overwhelmed. Countless images of beaches, tanned bodies, trendy cafes and glamorous social events leave me thinking, “how does this girl have such a perfect life? Why is my life so boring? Am I boring?” As a result, I’ll spend the next several hours taking pointless photos in an attempt to upload something that my followers will ‘like’. This silly, destructive outlook can be avoided if we remember: it is just a persona. Nobody posts their normal days on Instagram, let alone their bad days.
This brings me to my next point. The happiest people stay true to themselves and do not compare their lives to the lives of others. They openly express themselves without worrying if somebody likes them. This could be through the way they dress, the music that they listen to, or through an array of creative practices. Many people don’t embrace their natural creativity because they are afraid of failure, but here’s the thing: If you do not base your success on the opinions of other people, then you can never fail. In fact, if you are doing something that you love, then you are already succeeding. Creativity is a powerful tool, and has been proven to lower stress and depression. This is because engaging with your creativity gives you a sense of fulfilment, and allows you to live an authentic life.
So, whether your passion is art, dance, music or blogging, embrace it. Throw yourself into whatever it is that you love and don’t compare yourself to others. Be proud of your individuality.