Festifall is here, and that means one of two things, depending on your outlook: It could mean the Diag has become an intraversable morass with strangers blocking all major intersections, free candy flying at your head and enough science-fair boards to give you a middle school flashback. But from where I’m standing, Festifall is a world of opportunities, especially arts opportunities. And you owe it to yourself to get involved if you have any interest whatsoever.

While students can elect to fill creative expression requirements, the University doesn’t mandate that we take arts classes, which is definitely for the better. If you put someone in an arts class who doesn’t want to be there, they’ll bring everyone down. But while you don’t have to get involved in the arts, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. You really really should, for realsies. There are so many arts groups on campus showing themselves off on the Diag today that you’re almost guaranteed to find something you’ll like. And trust me, it’s worth the time to get involved, even if you’re a freshman taking college-level classes for the first time and intimidated by the time pressure. Nay, especially if you fit that description.

In my freshman year, one of my East Quad neighbors recommended that I join the Glee Club after hearing choir music emanating from my speakers. When I first auditioned, I was super excited, and then ecstatic to actually be allowed to join the group. During the first few weeks, I kept leaving my dorm way earlier than needed and got to rehearsal before anyone else, just because I couldn’t wait to be singing with the dudes. Over time, my departures got later and later, and the time commitment wore on me. The workload of my classes was picking up and rehearsals were at night. Nights are for screwing around on the Internet, or, if you’re my parents, homework.

But each time I got to rehearsal, I forgot any misgivings about joining Glee Club. As soon as that first piano key was struck to begin warm-ups, I was in a whole different mindset. And that’s the influence of the arts. Whatever is stressing you out — and believe me newbies, many things will stress you out — doing something artistic you really care about can make it all go away, if only for a short while. Whether you want to break dance or hip-hop dance or ballet dance or contemporary dance or ice dance or ice carve or sing a cappella or sing classical or act in plays or act in musicals or knit, something at Festifall will pique your interest. And even if you don’t have the time or crowd-maneuvering patience to deal with Festifall, do some independent research on Maize Pages and find your ideal group. I’m not going to quote random studies or pull data out of my ass to tell you that doing something artistic every so often will help you manage college. I’m just going to say it worked for me, and if you let it, it will work for you.

But maybe participating in the arts just absolutely, positively isn’t for you. I won’t hold that against you. Arts activities aren’t for everyone, and if you aren’t enjoying them, they’re pointless. Still, I don’t think there’s a single one of you who can honestly say, except in a hipster-ironic way, “I don’t like movies, music or visual art.” So make an effort to experience something artsy. Preferably see a local band or a University performance or art exhibit. Or go see a show at The Ark or Blind Pig. You could start out attending a digital music performance, try taking a class, and before you know it you’re a Performing Arts Technology major. Or if you’re not quite that inspired, it will make you seem indie and mysterious at parties. But I predict the arts will do you wonders.

Art affects everyone in different ways because it serves so many purposes. Art can make you think, raise awareness for social issues or simply be a form of self-expression. But a lot of art exists solely to make you happy, and a lot of people seem to forget about that in the bustle of the college transition. Even jaded seniors who know the ins and outs of the University probably haven’t heard of more than a third of the arts groups on campus, which could be easily fixed with a little stroll through the Diag today. The new year is a chance to reinvent yourself. When you do, make the arts a little part of your life. It will make you a happier person.

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