On relaxation: advice from a student poet


Tell me about yourself

When I’m asked to respond to this seemingly simple prompt, I find myself struggling to navigate the complexities of my own insecurities – should I tell you? Should I not? Will you judge me? Will the all-too-familiar chuckles and comparisons to Shakespeare return as I profess my interests with utter honesty?

No, I don’t consider myself to be a poetry connoisseur – I don’t recite lines from The Ravens by Edgar Allan Poe before going to sleep every night. No, I don’t revel in the notion that I’m considered a “creative” type. 

However, the notebook that remains posted on the nightstand next to my bed is something I hold dear. It is something I reluctantly share with only a select few close to me. 

When I share that I am a student who writes poetry, people’s immediate assumption are that I am some sort of an intellectual snob reading only abstract pieces by today’s standards.  What many fail to realize, however, is just how pertinent contemporary poetry is to today’s social climate, acting as an outlet for nonverbal, authentic expression. 

Don’t get me wrong, I still like to mindlessly participate in the generational trend of scrolling through the endless “rabbit holes” of Tik Tok, however, poetry forces me to think. 

When did poetry become such a foreign form of expression? Judging from my experience, it’s the perception of complexity in the form of tedious work rather than literary artistry. We often reach for the most accessible forms of relaxation and expression to unwind in a way that doesn’t require much cognitive strain. 

But what if this abstract form of thinking effort is more effective than it is tedious?

When writing, the words seem to flow directly from my mind to the page – no second thoughts are needed when it comes to unrestrained self-expression. The only thing listening to you is the page-a pleasantly nonvocal audience. Freeing my mind of the stressors of the day through a series of rhymes, stanzas and alliteration brings an odd sense of satisfaction. Knowing that I’m turning those stressors into something tangible, beautiful and meaningful brings about a sense of intrinsic satisfaction.

This isn’t to say that you should give up your time on social media every night and dedicate the rest of your life to pursuing a Nobel Peace Prize for award-winning prose. Rather take it as a gentle reminder that it may be a good idea to spend more time with yourself and your thoughts – especially within a society that continually praises fast-paced, constant competition as being the only “right” way to reach individual fulfillment. 

I am still working to become a better writer, poet and lifelong learner to improve my ability to express and bring about relaxation in a nonverbal manner. 

My advice: grab a notebook, write things down. Maybe try a rhyme, a little bit of imagery or something new, no matter how abruptly “unique” it may seem.