The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Expressing yourself

May 19, 2022

In the modern age, expression can take many forms. This may include photographing events or people that are important to you. Perhaps it’s something more simple, like scribbling on a blank piece of paper whenever feeling frustrated or angry. Either way, each of these methods serves as a way to understand yourself better.

“Why do I only take portrait photos, or why do I always find myself scribbling when I’m angry?” you might think. 

For Lina Saleh, a sophomore at Carlmont, singing and songwriting are her ways of expressing herself, telling stories, drawing inspiration from the everyday things around her, and better understanding herself in the process.

“I’ve had some really silly courses of inspiration: fictional characters and situations such as ‘What if I entered myself into this universe? Or my friends?’ I feel like inspiration – and this is going to sound super cheesy – is everywhere you go,” Saleh said. 

For Saleh, almost every song has a different inspiration coming from what emotion she may be feeling at the moment or the people and events that come into her life.

“If I’m angry about something, nine times out of ten, I’ll get angry at the song and leave it halfway. But I think that it is also a testament, channeling my emotions at the song. And that one time out of ten, [the song] sounds pretty angry,” Saleh said.

Music can also make changes within the brain and provide psychological benefits. A study done by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health studied 60 patients who experienced anxiety and depression from cancer. Listening to just 20 minutes of music a day over three days showed a dramatic decrease in anxiety and depression amongst the randomly chosen group of individuals.

Not only do studies show music, occasionally referred to as the language of the soul, decreases depression and anxiety, but it can also be used to express emotions that words alone might not be able to convey.

“Songwriting is definitely a form of catharsis. I mean, it goes a lot of different ways. I feel as a writer, you not only get a chance to channel what you’re feeling, but you’ve tried to understand the world around you, and the worlds and universes that could be happening around you,” Saleh said.

In addition to being used to convey emotions, art-making can also change feelings or make an individual less stressed. According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, cortisol levels decreased by 17% following art-making, signaling a decrease in stress.

Similar to how one may blow off steam by doing physical activity, Saleh often turns to music-making when challenges arise in her life.

“Sometimes, if I don’t understand what’s going on in life, I’ll sit down and write. Sometimes it’s a song, and sometimes it turns into a journal entry. Not being afraid to share how you feel [and] not being a secret anymore, I feel [is] important,” Saleh said.

For Saleh, making music isn’t only a hobby but is a passion that helps her better understand herself. She is open to the challenges that may arise when making music and takes these challenges as opportunities to improve herself and her music-making.

“It’s so aggravating sometimes, [when] you’re trying to write about how you feel, or how you want others to feel about this particular situation, but you’re also trying to do it in a catchy way [and] in a way that fits a certain syllable count, [uses] the right words, or [uses] a cool melody,” Saleh said.

Even though these challenges present setbacks for Saleh, she realizes the importance music brings to her life. Music helps Saleh learn to let go of what other people may think.

“Songwriting is basically reading your diary to the world. And that can be really scary. But it can also be really liberating,” Saleh said.

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