Many of our program participants feel pressure to not make any mistakes. They relate to Victoria, who shared, “I think I’m a perfectionist with my art because I can’t control anything else in my life.”
Victoria enjoyed participating in our transitional age youth program because it was a calming environment where she could recuperate from the stress of an abusive home. She expressed herself through sculpting and painting, creating beautiful landscapes and misunderstood characters. But in one session, the pressure to be perfect got to her. When she accidentally smudged her painting, she began criticizing herself saying, “I ruined it, I ruined it. I can’t do anything right, I can’t make anything perfect.”
By the end of the session, Victoria had created several meticulous landscapes but was left with a full palette of paint. With the encouragement of our facilitator, she decided not to put pressure on herself in the remaining few minutes. Rather than feel anxious over potentially messing up a nice, pristine canvas, she opted for a piece of cardboard. “This will be for feelings,” she said before throwing herself into her art.
The resulting canvas was different than anything Victoria had made in our program before. Rather than a picturesque scenic view, it was a raw snapshot of her inner emotions. Reflecting on her work, she called out each word that came to mind in a stream of consciousness that created the following poem.
You can never tell what another person is going through just by looking at them. This piece serves as a reminder that the unseen baggage we carry within ourselves does not have to weigh us down. We can let it out, we can release.