The first time I went to therapy, I was 16, in the middle of my parent’s divorce, and it was a one-time encounter that didn’t sit well with me.
The second time I went to therapy, I went to the office on my college campus and started to uncover some stuff. But I didn’t really click with my therapist how I wanted to and I got discouraged and stopped going.
The third time I went to therapy was right after I came back from competing at Miss America. I had been promising myself to get back into therapy for a looooong time, and finally hit that low point that kicked me into gear to find a therapist. And finally, I found what I had been looking for.
If you’ve followed my journey, you know that Thursdays turned into my therapy day and that my art carries me through a lot of the harder points of life. Over the last few weeks, I’ve talked about how to find a therapist, what to look for in a therapist, what to think about during your first session, and if therapy even works.
I went through that entire process in February of 2020 - it was actually the week of Valentine’s Day - when I took those steps to love myself again and start to find solid ground with my therapist during what felt like an incredibly uncertain time in my life. The therapist I found actually provides art therapy, which is a type of therapy that incorporates creative methods of expression through visual art. I was surprised to find out that I wasn’t very good at art therapy because of my background in art. I thought too much about the art itself and not the emotions I was trying to tap into. We ended up shifting to more traditional talk therapy and relying on art as an expression in my personal time rather than in our sessions.
I learned a lot about myself throughout my therapy journey, but a few things in particular:
1. I talk a LOT to process my emotions,
2. I tend to overthink (don’t we all?) and go over every possible scenario and outcome in my head before I actually take any action
3. I was really scared of the unknown next chapter of my life.
Almost every day, I ask myself, “What’s next?” (also probably why I’m such a checklist person). And while that constant question probably helps drive me toward my goals, it’s also held me back from enjoying the moments and seasons that I’m in.
When I started therapy for the third time, “what’s next” was completely unknown. I was uncertain of where I would land and for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a plan. I was in this incredibly vulnerable season that was filled with challenges, frustration, and inevitably, a pandemic. Just two months after I got into the routine of Therapy Thursdays, the world shut down and we went virtual. I’ve said before that my greatest personal growth has happened during the hardest points of my life, and I think that can be true for a lot of us. But it sure is hard to see it when it’s happening!
For me, art has always played a large role in my life. From art classes to theater, music, and everything in between it's just become a part of my DNA and has supported myself and my well-being in so many ways.
The faces I've met along the way have become such an influential part of my growing up that I find it hard to even dream about who I would've become if I wouldn't have had art. I’ve had mentors, friendships, and experiences I’ve collected all along the way that have given me stories and memories to last a lifetime.
For me, art and all its forms have been such an act of self-expression. It’s when I feel the most alive and it’s also been the thing that has connected with so many souls.