By Harriet Eglinton, Class of 2021
Being the best we can be isn’t all about striving for excellences and pockets. It is about looking after your mind, taking the time to listen to what it is trying to tell you and being happy with who you are as a person. It is about having understanding and empathy for those around you. My art depicts the journey through anxiety; my hope is that my art may bring an awareness of the importance of mental health, enabling people to realise they are ready to take the next step to seek help so they can live their best lives.
This year, I decided that my NCEA Level 3 print portfolio should explore the themes of mental health, specifically that of anxiety. I wanted my portfolio to reflect the idea of putting up a façade, appearing happy and content when really, it is chaos within.
The portfolio begins with ghostly figures of true feelings being masked by fake smiles. I then further develop this chaos, creating more abstract prints. The anxiety and chaos begin to break out from behind the mask.
In some way, this portfolio has been an exploration of my own story and battle with anxiety. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was covering up my true feelings, pretending my anxious thoughts didn’t exist. I persuaded myself along with all the people who cared for me that I was fine. Just like my artworks, I was putting up a mask of fake smiles and “I’m good thanks” to hide the chaos that was forming inside my own mind.
The world can be a tough place, especially at the moment with lockdown disrupting such a crucial time of the school year. There is so much uncertainty around us, and it is okay to feel stressed, overwhelmed and anxious about everything. These are human emotions we all experience. Taking care of our mental health and wellbeing should have a high priority in our lives. Knowing where to access help is of huge importance.
Reaching out is one of the hardest steps to take, but there are people and organisations out there who will listen and assist you without judgement. As hard as it is to do, be brave and take that first step; it will bring a sense of relief and knowledge that you don’t have to go through this journey alone. I have included some helpful resources at the bottom left of this article.
A quote that I stand by and aspire to is: “You spend most of your life inside your head, be kind to your mind, and make it a nice place to be.” This resonates with me because I think it is easy to get caught up in our heads and find all the little faults and flaws with who we are. We need to learn to look for the positives and to be grateful for what we do have in our lives. It is also important to remember that we never know what personal battles our peers are facing in their own lives. Everyone is hurting and healing from things they don’t speak about. We can learn to treat everyone with empathy and understanding.