Motivation vs Inspiration: A Student’s Eternal Struggle


A not so normal practice session. Photo provided by Victoria Juarez.

Victoria Juarez, Editorial Editor

I am a musician. I play bassoon, among  other instruments like percussion and saxophone, and in my free time I like to compose. 

I am a musician. This is a fact. But in these struggling times, I find myself constantly reminding myself of this fact, because I am no longer sure it is true. 

The truth is everyday I struggle more and more to pick up any of the aforementioned instruments. And I haven’t composed since middle school, at least not for fun. So when the pandemic began, I treated it like a small extension. A time in which I could gather a hold of myself, get missing assignments done, and finally have enough time to compose and play for fun again. But my problem was never that of time, it was that of inspiration. 

As students, we have many different obligations and it often feels like a burden to manage enough time for hobbies. However these hobbies are things that keep us inspired and motivated. While many students may be feeling unmotivated during the pandemic, they do not realize we’ve been uninspired for quite some time, and further fail to realize how that affects our school work. 

Firstly, motivation in this context is defined as the desire or willingness to do something. It is important to note that while motivation is a huge contributing factor to the overall success of a student, it is not the only way to achieve success. The reason for this is because I personally believe that motivation is a bit of a myth. 

Yes, motivation exists and it’s great when you have it, but when you don’t have the motivation to go to school or do your work, the majority would agree that it gets done anyway. Whether you have the motivation to do it or not, your homework will get finished if you want to keep that A.

This of course does not account for mental illnesses like depression, which often get in the way of motivation and give you no desire to do much let alone keep your grades up. With the ongoing pandemic, many people have been struggling with their mental health. This is where inspiration comes in. 

To be inspired means to be mentally stimulated and feel connected to the material at hand, usually having to do with something creative. It can also be a “brilliant, timely idea.” 

When I was a kid, I could read a 450 page novel in three hours and by the end feel like I was on top of the world. At the time, I felt every word I read to the core and it inspired me to write myself. Now whenever I’m assigned reading assignments for class, I rarely feel the same sense of inspiration that I felt as a kid. 

As a result of this, my work suffers. I may be receiving an A, but at what cost? Is an A worthy of late nights doing mediocre work and writing uninspired tangents?

2019 was probably the worst year of my life. I experienced a lot of mental health issues that at the time I refused to acknowledge were present. For the bottom half of 2019, I was in a sort of fight or flight mode, where I either did all my work at once or decided it was too hard and my body couldn’t handle it. I think many of us are currently in this “fight or flight mode,” and with no end in sight to this pandemic, many of us will stay in it.

Motivation and inspiration are not the same thing. You can force yourself to be motivated. Inspiration is almost always rubbed in your face, a sliver of time in which you get the urge to do something creative. 

Don’t get it twisted. Inspiration does not come often. If it did we would continuously be getting the next great American novel. 

Yet this inspiration is important, because despite not feeling like you have the time to develop hobbies, you do, and you should. As a former straight-A student, I can tell you it is not worth it to stay up late doing mediocre work. Grades will only keep you happy for a second until you have to worry about the next assignment.

I am a musician. This is a fact. Though it is a fact I have to constantly remind myself of. It doesn’t make it false. I am a musician, and though I don’t have the inspiration to create music today, I have the motivation to learn about my craft. 

Tomorrow is a new day. Inspiration will come when it will, but even if it doesn’t come for years, I am still an artist.