Three Creative Outlets To Push You Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Creative expression is so important to recovering from mental illness. And there are a million ways to do it.
Some people write, some dance, some draw. There are loads of possibilities out there.
I want to talk to the people who aren’t afraid to pour their hearts out. I want to talk to the people who want to share their passions with the world, who aren’t afraid to get up in front of a crowd and just do it.
I personally think that the performing is one of the most therapeutic passions there are, so I wanted to give you some ideas of where to start. So if you have always wanted to be onstage, but didn’t quite know how, then keep on reading.
Burlesque. This one takes a lot of guts, but I promise you it is 100% worth your while. Burlesque dancing is an amazing art form that you can take into a number of directions. Most of the time, burlesque dancing focuses on cheekiness and humor, and is guaranteed to make you feel both creative and confident. I did burlesque for a while, and performed in theme shows about SNL, The Beatles, and even Bojack Horseman!
How to get started: Search online to see if your city has a burlesque school. I’m not sure how other schools work, but I went to The New York School of Burlesque, and they had a four week program that culminated in a student showcase. I’d also recommend checking out The Burlesque Handbook to get a sense of the art form and the history behind it. Soon, you’ll be forming your own acts! And don’t worry- you can cater them to whatever your comfort level is.
2. Comedy. Honestly, I find performing comedy to be more nerve wracking than burlesque. But, it is a wonderful outlet for those of you who are writers with a great personality. There are so many different styles, from improv to stand-up to sketch, and infinite possibilities to be creative. Once you get bitten by the comedy bug, you’ll be writing and performing at a mile a minute.
How to get started: If you want to start with improv or sketch comedy, see if you can find a local comedy school, such as the Upright Citizen’s Brigade in NYC and LA, or The Second City in Chicago. They typically have both structured classes and opportunities to perform. If you’re doing improv, I’d recommend the Upright Citizen’s Brigade’s Improv Handbook. As far as stand-up goes, there are bars and theatres that have open mic nights basically wherever you go, so bring with your best material, have some liquid courage, and just do it.
3. Roller Derby. This one is both creative and athletic, so if you’re the type that feels good when you exercise, then this one is for you. Before you ask, no, roller derby isn’t all about punching people in the face while roller skating. Quite the opposite. Derby is an incredibly empowering sport with a real comradery between teammates. And if you’re worried about getting hurt, just know that you will probably get some bruising, but there are plenty of penalties in place so it doesn’t get too violent. It’s also very creatively inspiring style-wise, as you have opportunities to customize everything from your roller skates to your makeup to your derby name! There’s a whole Facebook group dedicated to roller derby bout makeup, which you can use for inspo.
How to get started: Almost every major city has a roller derby team, and they all offer introductory classes that will show you the proper techniques that go into playing the game. I was a part of the junior team with the San Diego league, and they taught classes in three levels. You had to pass a test to get to the next level, and once you were done with the last one, you were eligible to be on the team. Once you learn all of your skills, you can try out for your league’s team, and play against other teams in bouts, and even tournaments. This one is also great for kids too- many leagues have a junior team for those who are as young as 7! I’d recommend the book Roller Girl for kids, but honestly, I think adults would love it too.
These are all things that I have participated in throughout my life, and I can say for certain that you will feel confident, inspired, and motivated once you find your footing in any of these. You’ll make new friends, you’ll gain a skill, and you’ll satisfy that need to to something performative.
They become more than just a hobby- they become a lifestyle. Trust me, you’ll love it.