As a college student, most of my learning currently takes place inside a classroom or in a textbook assigned by my professors. I’m constantly pushed to improve my skills and strengthen my academic voice as I write papers and finish major projects. Throughout college, one of the most valuable things I have learned is to always seek truth and to raise questions, no matter how big or small they might be.
Once college is over, I am sure it’s easy to believe that the part of your life devoted to learning is over. Upon finishing a degree, learning could quickly become less of a priority in the face of job and family responsibilities. While the temptation to mold life into an anticipated routine is overwhelmingly strong, the choice to instead challenge yourself by continually pursuing curiosity throughout your adult life can yield incredible results and give you an excitement for life that is unmatched. I’ve watched others do this, and I strive to do the same.
As I’ve started to think about this process of what it means to cultivate curiosity in my life outside of college course requirements, I’ve thought about how to pursue my passions well. A little less than two years ago, I picked up a camera for the first time and began shooting pictures regularly. Now, photography is a great passion of mine because it’s such a beautiful storytelling mechanism. Photos connect people and create important memories that are imprinted in time. I didn’t learn to love photography through my college courses. I learned to love photography because I was interested in developing a skill and an interest at my own speed.
While cultivating curiosity looks different for each person, there are a few different tactics that I’ve found helpful which can make learning more attainable and realistic.
Listen to a story about curiosity!
Check out this episode from the podcast “Sounds Good” where Branden Harvey talks with Jeremiah Jenkins on The Adventure of Curiosity.
For me, this takes the form of New York Times articles (the opinion section is my favorite) and every book I can possibly acquire. It’s exciting to tackle another chapter and feel the satisfaction of finally closing a book you’ve worked hard to finish reading.
At the end of every day, write down a few new things you have learned!
If you haven’t learned something new, try challenging yourself the next day! Maybe it’s as simple as googling why almond milk is better for your morning coffee than half n’ half or recalling something new that you learned about a person you know. Even small changes to your routine and to your perspective can help broaden the way you see the world.
Taking opportunities (however small or limited) to have a change of scenery can greatly expand one’s perspective on the world by teaching you how to communicate with people who are different from you and by physically showing you a very different landscape and way of life. Perhaps this means you can explore a new town close to your home, or it means you decide to take the leap of traveling to Japan like you’ve always dreamed. Travel is also important because it’s an experience that begs you to repeat it. Once you’ve started the journey of exploring new and unique places, you’ll never want to stop. This is a great way to fuel curiosity.
Always Ask Questions
One way to always keep learning is to ask people for their advice, for their stories, for their struggles. Continuing to ask questions opens up a world of possibilities and helps you learn new ideas every day.
There’s obviously a great importance in approaching life with wisdom and a good deal of consideration, but stepping outside what is normal, comfortable, and familiar often leads to the most life-changing results. Maybe this risk is to start exploring a new idea you have for creating a business! Maybe the risk is to apologize to that friend and start fresh. Taking risks is hard, but it continually stimulates your brain and pushes you to be a better person by strengthening your goals and your work ethic.
While cultivating curiosity can be a challenge at times, it is worth all the effort to engage the world and continue growing as an individual. The commitment to learning is one that brings surprises with every turn. Knowledge is an empowering pursuit and helps bring big ideas to life. Don’t forget to dream big dreams and turn them into your next plans! That is what curiosity is really all about.