This I Believe: I believe in doodles

Essayist Jaidan Kopp
Essayist Jaidan Kopp

By Jaidan Kopp

I believe in doodles. 

Not the intricate drawings that take hours and all of your brain power, but the ones that you mindlessly let loose on the margins of notebooks and Post-It notes. The ones that are accidental perfection and dive deep into your subconscious. The ones that were never supposed to happen and now take up more space than your notes. These doodles are a good kind of invasive. A part of you that needs to be expressed. A part that manages to break free every time you hide it. This is my philosophy—to let loose the things that can’t be kept away. The things that want to be free and seen. 

How are we supposed to be ourselves if we can’t let our doodles out? If we can’t let our thoughts be seen by like-minded creators? We will never grow if we spend hours of precious time on carefully articulated pieces that will never mean as much to us as those doodles do. 

I had a few pieces in my high school art show last year.  Most of them were inktobers I let my sister pick and the main one was my first graphite self portrait. Don’t get me wrong, they were great, but they didn’t feel like me. They didn’t capture how I want people to feel when they look at my art. I was proud to only be a freshman and to have the highest number of comment cards out of everyone in the show. It made me happy to know that people had an opinion about my art. They all said things like “IT LOOKS AMAZING” and “SO GOOD!!” 

But I never wanted my art to be amazing or good. I wanted people to see that it was me behind the art. Not that girl in the janky portrait that never even looked like me. I wanted people to make the connection that I am my art, but those pieces were not me. They were what I did for the grade. What I did to pass. Not what made me happy. 

The drawings that make me truly happy are the half-finished portraits of pretty faces I’ve never seen. Sometimes when I start a doodle with no direct inspiration, it turns out to look like someone who’s been on my mind. Other times the doodled face turns out to be a complete stranger. These faces show what words can’t. They manage to manifest the emotions I don’t know how to express. The ones that I can look at and really be proud of, that I would like for other people to also see and be proud of. These are the drawings that I want people to relate to me. 

I am happy when I can create what feels right, what feels like me. Not what someone else told me looks good or what I did to pass. With those Post-It note pictures, I can feel the way I want to and fill that little square with just a few moments of emotion. 

That raw expression of emotion is what I believe in. 

I believe you should create to fulfill your own agenda, not a teacher’s or a friend’s. Create what feels right to you. 

I believe in mindless doodles no bigger than a Post-It note. 

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