Life: DIY


One columnist argues art and journaling are a key role in being an adult.

By Jennifer Ladwig

It’s an age-old idea spouted by parent after parent: you need to be on your own before you can successfully live a life with someone else.

This can be applied in many ways from romantic partners to parents to friends, but the idea remains the same. When times get tough, we turn to people we love and trust to help us through our problems. This reliance is a coping mechanism, a way to get advice and have a shoulder to cry on.

I know this all too well, my mom is always there for me and I turn to her for advice on everything. I also have a best friend who will listen to my every woe. At one point I was very reliant on the guy I dated in high school. Where I have gone wrong is relying too heavily on these people.

Once I started dating my high school boyfriend, I came to him with anything I was worried about, and it was great until we broke up. When that happened and I came to college, I realized I had never learned how to walk myself through the hard times.

I was lucky enough to have my sister, my mom and my best friend available to talk with me during that transition period, to help ease my fears.

As great as this help was, and still is when I need it, I had to learn how to handle life myself, because one day I’ll be living on my own, trying to handle all my responsibilities.

And one day, I hope to have a son or daughter of my own, and I will need to be able to help them through their ups and downs until one day they too are grown up enough to take care of themselves.

So, for all of you budding grown-ups, let’s go through some tips and tricks to not get sucked into the vortex of stress and anxiety that school, work, love and life can pull us into.

I am a huge proponent of the arts and using creative outlets to ease your mind, so a lot of these are going to relate to artsy things that help with anxiety.

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First, figure out something you love doing and do it. Are you an awesome painter? Paint a picture for every one of your friends, maybe two or three each, however many you need to get that stress out of your mind and onto the canvas. Or maybe you like poetry. Let me tell you, poetry is powerful, it can be so simple but so impactful, and who says you can’t do it like the greats?

Music is great too, if you find it relaxing to play guitar, take some time to sit in the sun and play. Or if you just like to listen to music, like most of us do, then put your headphones in, lay on the bed, close your eyes and crank up the volume on your favorite song while it’s on repeat. It works miracles, I swear by it.

Journaling is great too. As a writer, I am a strong believer in the power of the written word. I see a journal as a way to tell your friend all about your problems without actually complaining to them about it.

Second, there’s this thing called exercise, I don’t do it very often, but I hear it’s great for clearing your head. For example, my ex texted me on my birthday last year, and my initial reaction was to sit there and eat cake straight from the pan. Then I did a total 180 and marched up to the gym and had the best workout, and I felt great after. It really does work, who knew, right?

Third, don’t be afraid to consult professional help. I’ve noticed that there’s this stigma about going to see counselors and therapists. Any time I’ve mentioned to people I didn’t know very well that I had a counseling appointment, their response was always “whoa, what’s wrong with you.”

The answer is nothing, nothing is wrong with me. I’m an emotional person who has a lot going on in my brain, and I need some help sorting through it. So if you’re feeling overly stressed, instead of turning to a friend who’s probably got just as many problems as you, turn to a professional who’s gone through years of schooling to be able to help people just like you.

These alternatives are important for everyone because they give you a way to cope without having to rely on the emotional support of a friend. Adding your stresses onto someone you love can make it more difficult for them, especially if they are also a worrier, because if they love you, they will worry for the both of you.

It’s still important to have open communication with the people you care about, and to keep them in the loop about what’s going on with your life, but for their sake and yours, it’s a good idea to learn how to manage your problems on your own first, and come to them later.