When I decided to go to college and choose a career, I asked myself what it was that I would enjoy doing for the rest of my life. And when I really did think about it, I realized that that thing was theatre. Of course, I did consider briefly more academic, “useful” disciplines like meteorology or business, but the truth of the matter was that with my C in statistics from high school and a complete distaste for anything math related, having to do more number crunching just wouldn’t bode well for me.
This is because the arts are useful in their own way. Before you discredit this article as another “I AM important” rant, please hear me out. Art degrees of any sort teach us so many things. At a young age, when our brains and preferences are beginning to develop, we are exposed to a vast majority of things at once. We’re subjected to so many career tests that attempt to convince us we are meant for something more stable, more secure. But to children like me, the arts were an escape. From the age of two, I was in dance lessons, learning shows, practicing the piano or the violin. I was doing all of these things, and then for a brief moment, I stopped.
For a span of a few months, I didn’t do anything creative. And something was different. I was less focused. I wasn’t in music anymore. I had long since quit dance lessons. I only did theatre for a couple of months in the spring. My evenings spent learning shows were replaced with basketball practice, and my mind was more set on memorizing multiplication tables than lines for a play. This was, by no coincidence, the same point in time that I remember being the most distracted. I wasn’t doing quite as well in school as I had been before, and my concentration was dropping significantly. For the first time in my life, I had to get help outside of school to keep my grades up.
But then, I auditioned for another play. My work ethic went back up because as I memorized lines, I memorized my vocabulary words as well. Furthermore, through doing theatre, my vocabulary grew. I learned words like “scrupulous,” and I had a jumpstart on history by doing a show set in the backdrop of the American Revolution. My math skills and concentration improved as well through music. I was able to identify rhythms and pitches immediately before thinking through a complicated science project, and this made the problem solving so much easier.
I stayed in music and theatre throughout middle and high school, and I decided to add studio art and creative writing.
I was more relaxed, more focused. I enjoyed being able to have something to fall back on after a long day. It cleared my mind.
So before the arts are written off as frivolous or not useful, please take a moment to think about how they can affect the lives of so many children who are just as lost as I was. They’re indispensable, and therefore, fully veritable as the career choice of one who wishes to help others experience the same feelings they had, if only for a short amount of time. The arts are tenacious. And as long as they can do some good, they’re here stay.