Whether having a wild imagination or the inability to visualize a unicorn, we all need inspiration to guide us.
Now, “inspiration” is a word often thrown around without intended meaning. True inspiration is a lot like “true love”: it will hit you and stick with you and, when you think it’s gone, will reignite in the darkest of places. Inspiration can come from a hermit crab, a billowing cloud against a sunset, a mom jogging with a stroller, a dog walking on his hind legs—everyone’s mind is so incredibly different, the smallest things can spark the biggest ideas.
I don’t like to say I’m “following my dreams.” As an adult, I feel it’s become less of me “following” a path and more about me leading my dreams down the most efficient route. Otherwise, I’d do something unrealistically and damagingly drastic like attempting world domination and either A) succeed and be in way over my head or B) be institutionalized (most likely scenario).
But inspiration is what shows you how to take control of your dreams.
It’s very hard to be without gall, walk up to an employer and say “I deserve a promotion,” even when it’s well deserved. Inspiration is what turns people into superheroes; it’s powerful.
Let’s say a hard-working employee, Jeff, is torn between either asking his intense, busy boss of three years for his first promotion or keeping his head low—let’s assume he works sixty hour weeks and does “the most.”
While on his lunch break, Jeff observes an ant struggling to carry a crumb 3x’s its size. Despite the sheer difference in the size between the crumb and ant, the ant succeeds.
Jeff then begins thinking about how similar to the ant he is, how the ant was working hard without complaint, listening to the boss, and bringing success to the colony. Jeff then feels a surge of pride in his work, in the success he has brought to the company, finishes his lunch, marches into the boss’s office and begins the conversation.
We have all watched, at one time or another, ants carrying crumbs out of mild fascination and amusement. It’s not an anomaly worth marveling at (unless you’re an entomology enthusiast). Any other day, the ant wouldn’t make Jeff think twice. However, in the moment, the ant went from insignificant to extraordinary and inspired Jeff to do the same—he fed his inspiration.
The point is, inspiration comes from an exact alignment of events, emotions, and situations.
What inspired me to start applying to graduate school, quit my job and take the reigns on my life? Many different things; one that sticks out in my memory happened on a normal walk through the park. Tinkle kept pawing at my leg to play and I wouldn’t—I was too tired. My eyes began to well up with tears, pitying Tinkle for having such a disappointing guardian. My thoughts immediately hovered back to graduate school, wishing my job didn’t drain my sanity, my life consisted of more than being consumed by perpetual exhaustion.
I was tired and terrified of everything—terrified of telling Husband I wanted to pursue graduate school. Furthering my education meant kissing the money we’d tirelessly been saving for a house goodbye.
I was so afraid of being a disappointment, afraid of being selfish.
Then, it struck me—I was setting myself up for the biggest disappointment of all: self-condemnation. I was using the potential, nonexistent disappointment of others to downplay my own.
Before, I only saw a future in which I’d turn bitter and mean, suppressing my aspirations and potential. Heck, it was already happening. My creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and drive laid waiting for so long, it had crawled to the back of my brain waiting to die.
I snapped back to reality, to the park, Tinkle still pawing at my leg.
I realized I deserve to see how far I can go as an individual.
I started feeding the inspiration, keeping up the momentum, keeping doubt from getting in the way. I started reading business books, anthologies, and biographies to learn everything I could. I took the GMAT, applied to two schools, got accepted and networked within my community without hesitation.
I completely changed my life, my relationships, and my view on the world. Since I’ve been blogging, the world has become less terrifying. I hesitate less and feel as though I am thinking clearer than ever.
Inspiration is what fuels us. Inspiration is what drives us down the less traveled pathway.
P.S. If you want to feed your inspiration, read this book.