“Wanderer above the sea of fog” by Caspar David Friedrich, 1818

On the Tyranny of Inspiration and How We Don’t Need It

We’ve all felt it. That moment when we see, hear or experience something that brings us goosebumps, raises the hair on our necks and makes us forget to breathe. That moment when something just wells up inside of you and you can’t keep it in. We’ve all felt that feeling of being so powerful that you feel you can do just about anything you’d like. And for the next few days or weeks, we’re just that: the very pinnacle of who we’ve never believed we can be. You’ve never know that you can be like this, that you can do so much, that you’re at least as great as all the people that you’ve admired. Everything just seems to work out and you’re AMAZING.

But then something changes. You start walking less tall, talking less loud. You’re not as confident as before and you’re definitely not as energetic as before. You feel like you’re reaching the end of a dream and you start grasping out for answers, gasping for a few more moments of that already fading paradise. What happened to being a new person? Where’d that dream go?

You then start to realize how common “inspiration” is in society. Everywhere you go, whether it’s online or out in the world, you see quotes of “roads less traveled”, songs of how you’re “stronger”, videos of “motivational speakers”. You start desperately to search for your next fix of inspiration; attending seminars and speeches, digging up dozens of videos, looking at those posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram just so you can recreate that feeling once more. Inspiration becomes a meal, a drug. And without it, you’re just the normal you, the everyday you, the boring you. You’re not THAT person anymore, that person you so desperately want to be again. You’re under the Tyranny of Inspiration.

I think you’re hurting yourself by doing this. I believe you’re going down a hole of boundless self-loathing where the only way to save yourself is by having someone else do it for you. Whether they be your friends, your family, people you admire who you actually never met or talked to, the point is they’re not you. Inspiration doesn’t need to be a tyranny. It can be something you create, own and spread. Inspiration can be consistently generated by yourself.

I’m inspired by myself. Sometimes I’m given the opportunity to tell someone or just write to myself on what I really believe in, why I’m alive and what I want to accomplish. And when I’m doing that I realize that my words come a little faster, my strides a little steadier and my dreams a little brighter. And it’s funny because whenever I share to other people about how I can be inspired by myself, a lot of people laugh it off as being too proud and self-centered. But then is the idea of finding what you’re going through, the small victories that you achieved inspiring that repulsive? Is the idea of appreciating and recognizing yourself that foreign? After all, you could’ve stopped struggling any time. Are we caught up in a false sense of modesty in which we can’t cut ourselves some slack and actually appreciate ourselves honestly without the necessity of having to wait patiently (impatiently) for others to do it for us? I think it’s OK. I think it’s ideal to be moved by your own words and actions even to tears because hey, sometimes you really did a great job. Sometimes you don’t need to be so hard on yourself. Sometimes you’re more successful than you credit yourself to be.

So that’s the tyranny of inspiration. How we have it shoved down our throats and how we actually don’t need that tyranny to start or continue doing anything. We need only be clear of our own inspirations and our own passions that have been fueling it. We need only to stop giving ourselves such a hard time.

Enjoyed the irony of reading an inspiring article on how you don’t need others to inspire you? Any interesting thoughts and ideas you’re having right now? Why not write me up? Let’s talk about it :)