Finding the motivation to search for answers

Reawakening your inquisitive side

My sister’s most recent obsession has been documentaries of any kind, from a conspiracy theory surrounding mankind’s first mission to the moon to the treatment of animals behind the scenes at SeaWorld. What was rather amusing was how quickly she assimilated the information from the documentaries into her opinions. For example, after watching “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” and being exposed to the horrors that took place at a dairy farm, she announced that she was never going to drink milk again and was committing to veganism for the rest of her life.

As expected, her “vegan” phase hardly lasted a day.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t her drastic changes in mindset that I found striking. Rather, I was surprised my sister took the time out to watch all of these documentaries and do her own research just because she was curious.

When was the last time being curious about something was enough to motivate you to search for answers? For me, it’s been a very long time — more so than I would like to admit.

In college, the pressure of keeping my GPA up and dedicating time to extracurriculars has introduced the obstacle of time constraints. It’s very hard to never be in a rush while at school. Walking to class, eating, showering, paper writing, even sleeping — all of it is done shortly and hurriedly. In our mad dash to get from point A to point B, we prioritize things. There are so many times when I would see or hear something incredibly interesting — be it something a professor said in lecture, or a speaker on Grounds giving a free seminar — and I would simply file it away in the back of my head with the reassurance that I would come back to it later. Of course, “later” never happens. And this is because I convince myself that I have better things to do, more pressing matters to attend to. I passively acknowledge my curiosity but never attempt to foster it because I think it’s a waste of time.

It’s become painfully apparent how banal I appear to myself. It seems as if I’m a robot, being programed with information and then regurgitating it as output. When was the last time I had an inkling of an idea I wanted to chase or type something into Google just to see what came up?

However, recently I met with a family friend named Joanna who is on the admission committee for a medical school in Chicago. As a prospective medical student, I had a long talk with her over brunch about my various dreams and aspirations. Yet the more I talked to her, the more I realized what a by-the-book lifestyle I had sunken into. She had numerous stories about kids who she’d interviewed for medical school doing things like inventing gadgets, traveling the world, and so on. All this was frankly not new information; I’d heard about these stories during college applications too. Back then, these stories just sounded crazy to me and I wrote it off as “trying too hard.”

Talking to Joanna, however, made me realize that these kids weren’t “trying too hard” as I had ignorantly supposed so long ago. What drove them was their curiosity and drive to find something new that they could share with the world.

Taking this as a lesson learnt, I set out on my own journey to rekindle the curiosity that has been buried under layers of inertia. On the Monday school started up again, I frivolously googled “medical illustrations” on my phone whilst walking to class. I intend to major in Studio Art and Joanna had suggested finding a point of intersection between the arts and medicine as my starting line. Within five seconds I was staring at pages of Google search results and eagerly clicked through them, devouring the information. I realized that the thrill I was feeling as I scrolled through the websites was curiosity. On top of that, it had taken only seconds to find all this information on what I was curious about. Who said you don’t have time to be curious?

In the end, I’ve concluded that yes, the multiple things one has to do as a student take priority and that time is always an issue. However, it is my own fault, personally, that I let myself become complacent with knowledge. I hardly take the initiative to seek something out and that has been much of the reason why my curiosity has begun to hibernate. Yet, it’s comforting to know that all it takes is a couple buttons to find out what I want, when I want. All I need is determination. 

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