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Sometimes, when your head is buried deep in the study game, it gets stuck. You become lazy or anxious just thinking about the due date of an essay or your study notes for an exam. What happens then is that you stress even more than you did before. Suddenly, the blood rushes from your face and the word ‘university’ makes you want to barf. So how do you find the inspiration necessary to minimise these feelings of panic and maximise positivity when it comes to uni work?
Everyone will have a different answer to this question, as we all seek inspiration in different ways. Generally speaking, though, the ideal approach is to find something that makes you feel motivated and excited enough to solider on with your study notes, or cure your writer’s block for that essay due tomorrow morning.
There are several ways to gain this seemingly elusive inspiration. The first is to have an idol – someone to look up to, or perhaps to emulate. Many people feel like they want to take on the world by themselves and thus they maintain that they don’t need guidance. Self-belief is certainly a very important asset to possess; nevertheless, it can help to have someone on the sideline at whom we can steal a glance in order to keep us on track.
The second way to get inspired is to gather quotes that speak motivational ‘truths’, giving you the strength to carry on when times get tough. When I was finishing off my Honours thesis, my room was filled with Post-it notes of every colour imaginable. These notes spoke to me and prevented me from melting down, like so many of my fellow students had. It is easy to find inspirational quotes nowadays – you can just Google them, or follow an appropriate organisation on Twitter.
The third way to gain inspiration is through your everyday experiences. Taking the time to absorb and appreciate your surroundings, wherever you are, in a peaceful state of mind can enable you to make the proper decisions for success. Many writers believe that the beach has a calming effect on them, allowing them to write to the best of their ability. Several of my friends assert that watching classic films inspires them. But the fact remains that it doesn’t really matter how you get inspired – just get inspired by something!
Of course, there are many other ways in which people gain inspiration: spending time with family, taking a holiday, camping, feeding crocodiles, just to name a few. Personally, I feel most inspired by colour. It sounds like an odd thing to say but it is true. As I am writing my PhD thesis at the moment, it is essential for me to draw inspiration from whatever I can, whether it is the blue walls in my bedroom, the pink Post-it notes that serve as reminders, or the purple pen I use to take notes.
Colour doesn’t just inspire me to write; it is also an essential part of my everyday life. A couple of days ago my boyfriend pointed out that he rarely sees me wearing black, which is true – I am always the most brightly dressed person waiting at the traffic lights or sitting on the train. The way I see it, you get a good vibe from being engulfed by a variety of colours, especially compared to the bland feelings we associate with black and white. Even as I write this article, I am wearing hot pink pants …
Allow me to elaborate for a moment on my love of colour and how it works for me as a source of creative inspiration. When I started my undergraduate degree, I was always too shy to speak up in my tutorials. I remember making pages and pages of summaries for my weekly readings; yet when it came to assessments or exam time, I flunked. So the first year of my degree was a very difficult time for me.
One day, I started my own style blog because I felt like I wanted to experiment with my wardrobe, and what happened next was perplexing to many of those who knew me well – I started to buy a lot of colour. (My mum once said that it looked like a rainbow had thrown up in my wardrobe!) As I developed my sense of style, mixing and matching certain colours, I found it boosted my confidence and I began speaking up in class. After all, when you wear bright green shirts or yellow shoes people tend to notice you more, forcing you to learn how to be the focus of attention.
I am not telling you to go out there and buy a new wardrobe but, quite simply, I am urging you to experiment a little more in whatever way feels natural to you. I mean, that is what your uni years are for. Maybe start a blog about Game of Thrones, or read an erotic novel. Change your hair colour or paint your room coral. Just do something crazy because it will help to inspire you in the long term. What is the point of being young when you can’t have fun?