We all have different sources of inspiration. One of my major sources is 'Humans of New York'. And I'm going to explain why. But first, a short explanation in case you haven't heard about it (which I doubt, but still) - Humans of New York was created by Brandon Stanton and originally started out as a catalogue of photos featuring the inhabitants of New York City. Eventually he began to collect quotes and stories of the people he photographed and Humans of New York turned into what it is today - a collection of stories. HONY has a website and several social media accounts, including a Facebook page that is followed by nearly 17 million users. It has also become a bestselling book, which I was more than happy to get my hands on. But HONY is more than just a book, it is hugely inspiring and teaches us valuable life lessons.
The most obvious aspect HONY teaches is tolerance. Reading the book I saw so many different stories and so many different people, people of different ethnicities, young people, old people, Christian people, Muslim people & Buddhist people (just to mention a few), people who like to dress in bright colours and people who prefer wearing all black. By featuring such diversity HONY teaches us that multiculturalism doesn't mean difficulties and tension, it means enrichment. And in the end - when reading all of the stories - it becomes very obvious that we all share the same needs, goals and worries, no matter what our background might be. To put in simple words: We are all humans.
HONY shows us how powerful pictures can be, they often speak for themselves. Brandon managed to capture beautiful moments, details and deep human emotions. He shows us that beauty can be found everywhere and in the simplest moments. There are pictures showing a bride and pictures showing a man who just got a hot dog. And then there is a boy dancing hip-hop in the streets. Humanity is amazingly beautiful - isn't it incredible how many different emotions we can portray and how pure they can be? HONY encourages us to open our eyes to the world around us and to see beauty in everything. The message is simple - if you search for beauty, you will find it. In the most unusual places.
There is a different side to it, though. Pictures contain a powerful message and they allow plenty of different interpretations. Which is great, it evokes creativity. But it also leads to misinterpretations. That sounds a bit negative but let me explain: It is perfectly okay to develop your own story and to let your mind think freely, you just have to keep in mind that it's your perception and interpretation that might match reality or might not. By displaying a picture and story, HONY encourages us to look beneath the surface, to look closely and to hold back judgement. Don't judge a book by its cover. A lot of the time I find the stories really surprising. There is this strong woman who looks so happy but is secretly suffering from years of abuse or the tough looking man who gets pushed around by his wife and wishes to escape from his marriage. And this kid who dreams of making the world a better place. There is so much more to people that you might assume.
HONY encourages passion and compassion. It illustrates that we all have something that drives us, something we are passionate about, something to tell the world. We all have not one but plenty of stories to share. And these stories might be good ones or 'bad' ones. That's why it's essential to listen and to try to understand. Brandon is currently sharing stories from prison and I am grateful that he does. It made me see things in a different light and made me a more understanding person. We all make mistakes, some are more severe than others, but there is always is a story behind them. We are all flawed in some way and no one wakes up suddenly deciding to commit a crime.
HONY urges us to see the positive in this world and to spread positivity. Whenever I click on one of the stories, nearly all the comments are extremely supportive. And I love that. We all have something to proud of, we are all in need of encouragement and love. Individuality is amazing and we should fully embrace that. The best thing we can do is be ourselves, it makes the world a more interesting place. And that also applies to fashion. As a person who is passionate about self-expression through clothing I love HONY for spreading this message. Being different and looking different is okay, there is no limit to your creativity. Lead a life to make someone happy who should be very important to you: yourself. If you feel like wearing all green, why not. (I'm talking about an actual story from the book.)
In the end HONY is about celebrating individuality and it shows us that everyone has a story to tell. So if you're feeling down, think about all the things you have done, all the obstacles you've overcome. Your story is just as amazing and worth telling as everyone else's.
If you met Brandon, what story would you tell him about yourself? x