Youth Self Expression – What you can do about it

I grew up in the ever-growing city of Birmingham, AL — a city filled with endless talent, not enough opportunities. The youth in Birmingham possess a unique type of magic that many people overlook. The fashion, slang, music, and art the black people in this city create are just mesmerizing. As I matriculated through my grade years, more art programs were introduced to students and teachers. The school system encouraged art forms through the band, theater, choir, painting, and others. Sadly, a significant amount of the kids have succumbed to other activities such as sports or just completely abandoned their artistic ways, even though there were many opportunities at their disposal. There is nothing wrong with the people who have chosen sports over the visual arts programs because they are still doing something that benefits them. However, you can still enjoy art and be an athlete; they do not have to be mutually exclusive. Expression through art would be beneficial because it is not labor-intensive. It inspires you to think and discover a new hobby or passion.

In addition to those truths, black people have to endure so much daily and can not express those feelings without being labeled as the “angry black person” or “aggressive.”  As we have all witnessed, the pandemic has forced a new lifestyle and has forced people actually to live with themselves. In the past normal life, people would be consumed with other things such as work, school, and social life to spend time with themselves. I was one of those people who always worked and never relaxed. When the pandemic came, I was devastated and did not know how to cope with being alone. As months progressed, I learned more about myself and avoided spiraling every time I am faced with adversity. With the pandemic, social injustices, and other difficult life factors, it is imperative that people face all of the emotions they may be feeling. I believe that people can channel their negative emotions into positive expressions. Whether it is music, painting, or even dancing, it’s a productive pass time. In this blog, I will show some ways you can express your emotions in a calming manner and encourage one to learn things about themselves. 

Find Inspiration within Yourself 

Whether you choose to believe it or not, you are your biggest source of inspiration. First, spend some time with yourself with no distractions. Cut off all the background noise and think about your likes/dislikes, your life, and things that make you feel various emotions to start. This process is the most difficult because not many people take the time to learn themselves truly. This might take hours or days. Once you’ve thought of those things, write them down. You will learn that writing and journaling will be your best friend throughout your creative process. Next, draw out the 3 most important things to you (you do not have to be an artist, draw). Lastly, write about how this process made you feel afterward. This should make you feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders.

Discover How You Like to Express Yourself 

Different people have different ways of expressing emotions. Some laugh while others cry. Some dance while others sing. I express my emotions through writing. Writing has become a relief for me, and it was suggested to me through my mother. She suggested that I write so I won’t keep my emotions inside. I am the type of person that is apprehensive about talking to others. Writing can lift all of that weight off your shoulders. This is the time where you look back on all the times you’ve felt angry, happy, sad, etc. What did you do in those times? What did you do that brought you relief in those times? Keep those things as a mental note. 

Use These Tips in Your Everyday Life 

Now it is time to put these tips to use. They do not have to be used only when you are experiencing negative emotions, but anytime you feel you need to express yourself. Remember this process is designed to help you figure out what you feel is best. This is not an overnight discovery so work until you feel you can positively express yourself even on your worst day. 

Thank You 

I want to send a personal thank you to Ed Farm for allowing me to be fully creative throughout this apprenticeship. The Ed Farm team has given me endless insight on how to turn my problems into profitable businesses. Before, I was a student who was not extremely vocal about what I felt was important, nor did I know what to do with the many ideas that would rattle my brain. Now I am a more confident student who can find solutions to most issues. I would also like to give a special to the supervisors and my mentor, Sarah, for their lifelong lessons and endless support. 


Ashlyn Taylor is a graduating senior at Ramsay High School. Ashlyn is an Ed Farm apprentice through the Birmingham Promise Program. In the fall, Ashlyn will be attending North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.