If life is a game, many of us have similar visions of what winning might look like. Happiness and success are often two of our common objectives that we are all ultimately trying to move towards, but our paths can take very different twists and turns. The intriguing part, to me at least, are the sets of rules and boundaries which are either created for us or that we set for ourselves. Society, those around us, and ultimately ourselves have a big say in what we can and cannot do. For example, a man may not feel like he can become an artist because society tells him that he needs to provide for his family financially, or maybe because he tells himself he is not any good at drawing. Maybe we are at St Andrews because we genuinely enjoy learning and training our minds in critical thinking, but on that same token maybe it is simply the means to the end goal of success that we perceive as the most direct path.
I know I am guilty of following this vast complex of rules and regulations I have allowed to be built up around everything I do in life. I feel the pressure to figure things out and succeed first and foremost from myself, and indirectly from my family and community. Not to say that having a fire lit under me is a bad thing, in fact it motivates me to do well in school, but I sometimes wonder what the cost of following these rules really is. I think the more I play along, the more my own voice and originality gets lost in the haze. It is hard for me to remember which of my goals are genuinely based on my own passions and interests, and which I have adopted along the way. At this point, there is no separation.
I think what separates artists from non-artists is their ability to live outside of these rules and expectations. They are playing a different game with different values and goals than the rest of us that are chasing these subjective meters of success. They maintain their independent voice and thoughts that contrast society in a way that stirs the rest of us into wondering whether we are indeed missing something. They break the rules, and a part of me always wonders would I be where I am now if I did the same. If I walked away from this web of ideas I have been ensnared in, what would be left of who I consider myself to be? What would my most authentic life look like?
I recognize that this is very theoretical conversation to have, but for me it best encapsulates the environment I want to create for the Perspectives section. Obviously most of us would not be willing to drop everything we have and take an entirely different path, but our voice is something that we can practice maintaining and developing. This is a place to search for that voice each of us possess, and you can start by simply describing what you see, either in a community to which you belong, the wider world, or in yourself. If it seems ridiculous or unimportant, that is good. I want this to be a space to make mistakes, develop arguments, and engage with other writers in order to gain clarity about our own identities and voices. My journey here has been one with constant second guessing about the decision I have made and my place in the world, but I now feel like I have made sense of who I am least. My role is to facilitate a space where you may feel inspired to do the same. All I ask is you write unapologetically and in whatever way makes sense to you. I look forward to seeing what we can create.
Editor, The Tribe Perspectives
University of St. Andrews Class of 2020
International Relations and Persian Major
If you would like to contribute to our Perspectives section, you can contact Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.