Adolescence/Young Adult: My Process of Self-Discovery a personal arts timeline by reema basha

ADOLESCENCE (Ages 13-18)

"I would there no age between 10 and three-of-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing and fighting" - Shakespeare's, The Winter's Tale

My Reflection

The photograph of the budding flower in the title page is a symbolic representation of my adolescence when I first began to understand my own identity through exploring and accepting my ethnic/cultural values and individual views. Being a second-generation Indian American, I cultivated a bi-cultural identity where my values were based on the collective experience of the eastern culture and the autonomous, free-spirited experience of the western culture. Thus, I began to venture into unconventional styles of art that mimicked realism.

At the ripe age of 13, I noticed that I was individuating by cultivating my own interests, values and beliefs. I began to experiment with different religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. I remember reading more about the Koran, practicing transcendental meditation, and reading the Bible around the same time. Eventually, as I approached 15-16 years of age, I explored atheism and then I entertained the idea of being a Universalist. Thus, this experimentation in spirituality was a profound interest of finding my purpose which reflected my artwork.

Here is a photograph of me attending a Ramadan ceremony with my brother in 2003

Me at 13

Here is also a picture of me when I was having a great time after my Shambhala Meditation practice:

My adolescence was the pivotal point where I began to see a shift in my artistic ability. I noticed that my artwork was becoming increasingly sophisticated. This relates to Piaget's stage of formal operation, where the individual has a strong understanding of spatial relationships which is a milestone of cognitive development in the arts (Radocy & Boyle, n.d.). I too began to cultivate my own understanding of the spatial relationships between objects which helped me improve my technique in sketching. Most importantly, I was very keen into details. For example, I remember sitting at the window and watching raindrops coalescing together. I also remembered observing (for minutes at a time) the imperfect and tiny wrinkles of my hands. This observation paid off when I began creating details into my art work. The following sketch is an impressionistic rendition of the spring season. Notice how the patterns have details that create a story which is open to interpretation by the viewer.

Pollen Season- by Reema

Adulthood (Ages 19 to Present-Day)

Man Cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore-Andre Gide

By the time I reached adulthood, I began to have interest in the avante-garde/minimalist culture. I remember listening to musicians such as John Cage, La Monte Young, Terry Riley and most notably Philip Glass because I enjoyed listening to their eccentric and unconventional compositions. This unconventionality was something I really wanted to do in my art work.

Around this time, I explored and traveled to various parts of the United States, and garnered experience of being around and relating to different people. By learning about diversity, I was able to expand my abilities and discover new ways to improve my artistry. Pat Schneider eloquently substantiates my definition of going beyond the convention:

Me at 20-21

"The act of [fill in an art modality] is a tremendous adventure into the unknown, always fraught with danger. But the deeper you go and the longer you work at your art, the greater will be your treasure" (Schneider, 2003).

At first, it was difficult for me to let go of the outcome of my art and focus on the process, but as I gradually took these steps, I noticed that my work became more sophisticated and proficient. I also noticed that I started taking more risks with my artwork such as splashing water into the canvases, and using cooking oil to prime my paper.

In the following sketch, I primed my paper lightly with oil to have the charcoal be thicker in pigment. This sketch of the lotus flower represnts my continuous growth and wholeness with the universe. The flower ties well with Buddhist philosophy, as the lotus symbolizes eternal love

To conclude, I believe adolescence and young adulthood has helped me identify and distinguish myself as a strong and unique human being. In pertaining to the arts in medicine, the art exercises above are my ways of self-care, which is an important concept of self-love. Without undergoing the trials and tribulations of adolescence, I probably wouldn't be able to learn my true interest: Art.


Schneider, P. (2003). Writing alone and with others. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.

Radocy, R.E., & Boyle, J.D. (n.d.). Psychological foundation of musical behavior (4th ed). Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas, LTD.


Created with images by Myriams-Fotos - "marigold calendula bud" • < J > - "Flowers" • ruben_gal0 - "minimal budapest metro"

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