The world wants to tell you what to think about, what to be interested in, what to learn, what to pursue, what to worry about. And it's easier to let it.
You could go through your entire day without making a single choice. Eat what you've always eaten. Buy what's fed to you on Instagram ads. Wear what your friends or the influencers are wearing. Watch the TV that's trending on Twitter. Go to the highly rated bars or restaurants. Read the headlines the algorithm shows you. Many people today will spend their whole life doing just that, without even realizing it.
You don't see that you're not living your own life because it seems to be acceptable. It's how everyone else around you lives, after all. You don't notice you're being swept along by a tide until you look out and see you're further down the beach than you realized. Some of us never do.
We may even think of ourselves as curious, independent thinkers. We choose new hobbies, consider new ideas, try new styles. But when we aggregate those interests on a pie chart, we are all probably circling around the same things at the same time. We wear the brands everyone else is wearing, the same scents. We adopt a similar lifestyle as the people in our city. We travel to the vacation destinations we see on our friend's Stories. Read the books that rise to the bestseller list. Even our political affiliation and belief system are influenced by where we live and who we're surrounded by. We believe these are our independent decisions. But if we traced their origins, we'd likely find they're a result of the stimulus around us.
Real curiosity means seeking, rather than responding.
Today, swimming against the tide means breaking the algorithms. Confuse your music app by listening to songs from other countries and genres you've never tried. Throw off YouTube by diving into a topic you've never learned about. Fake out Instagram by following people and brands far outside your usual circle. Bewilder Facebook by reading articles that oppose your typical point of view. Then, once the algorithm catches up, do it again.
“One should always be curious. Not a passive curiosity dependent upon information received, but an aggressive curiosity that compels one to seek things out and ascertain them for oneself.” – Issey Miyake
When you discover something you've never heard or seen before, something that piques your interest, follow it as far as you can go. Read everything you can find on the subject. Watch the masters practice it. Try it yourself. Seek out opinions or ideas that contradict it. Make a study of whatever you're interested in at the time. And do it with dozens of things at the same time. No matter how weird or specific the path may be, go down it as far as you can.
This is how artists find their niche. It's how new discoveries are made. It's how people break out of what the world wants from them, and instead create their own little world for themselves.