As I live my life, carry out my daily routines of waking and getting up, trudging through the day’s work, and eventually going back to bed, I find myself continually drawn to those individuals who stray from the status quo. The surprising thing is, they might not be even doing ridiculously bizarre activities to make me want to also do the same. I have a friend who plays university football, just for the fun of it. I have another who traveled around the world this past summer to experience new things in Hungary and construct engineering marvels in Ecuador. Many times, I find myself envious of my buddies as they go about changing the world in their respective ways, even inspired to go out and do whatever it is they’re doing so that I could somehow also influence things around me!
But why is it that whenever we, as people who wish to be creative, wish to be inspired, we always look to things around us? You always see poignant scenes of artists searching for inspiriting muses, of photographers waiting for perfect moments in time, of writers chasing for new topics and ideas. We constantly look around at our surrounding hoping to find someone or something that will spark new sparks of creativity and allow us to create monumental pieces of work. But why is it that when we want to be creative, we always look to things around us? And never INSIDE of us?
A great friend of mine was applying to this honors design program, and in order to be selected, all potentials were required to take certain typography and art classes. Hopeful and optimistic, my friend threw herself into her work, only to find that there was more to the bargain than what she had asked for. Stories of working for 36 straight hours, skipping meals in order to complete projects by deadlines, and puking and passing out became regular, and I asked her, “Why are you doing this?! Is this even okay, even legal, to be treated as such?” The only answer I received was something along the lines of, “I got myself into this so I’m going to finish.”
But I instead suspect a different reason. Something else underneath must have been pushing her along. I guess her wanting to get into the program was a strong motivator, but this outside inspiration could only go so far and push someone only so far. I instead believe that not only was my tortured friend looking around her for inspiration, she was unconsciously looking toward her heart. Though she constantly denied it throughout this last semester, she absolutely loves the visual arts – creating it, viewing it, analyzing it, the whole package. And through her ordeal, I saw that we so many times become too lost in looking around us for external inspiration that we forget to look upon ourselves for pieces of creativity. We forget to ask ourselves why we even love what we do, why we want to be creative. Sure, many things around us spark ingenuity, but our personal loves and passions have become underrated sources of inspirations in today’s search for creativity. We must remember that in addition to looking around at objects surrounding us, we must not forget to look back inwards, towards the very reasons why we do what we do.
Jon Hu is a student at the University of Pennsylvania who loves skateboarding and discovering new projects.