In Chapter 2 of 12 product designer and software engineer Chris Hinkle shares how his parents have allowed him to develop as a creative. Hinkle challenges authority early and through his journey, his parents support his decisions, including dropping out of high school as a freshman. They allow Hinkle to make his own choices, including helping him move to Florida to live with artists. This allows Hinkle not only to become more creative but also more confident and independent.
Erik: How’ve your parents and your family encouraged your creativity? Chris: My parents were a huge part of who I am today. I think I had a pretty normal childhood in a kind of medium-income house in the suburbs of Orlando, Florida. My parents were musicians, so we, you know, we’re a little bit different than everyone else. We had a room full of musical instruments that everyone, all my friends would come over, and it’s like ‘wow, you had like every musical instrument.’ And I learned early on people would always expect them to play, you know. And you know musicians, just because they can play, it doesn’t mean like they’re – like they’re gonna play for you all the time. So like people would come over, it’s like ‘oh you play? You have a tuba. You can play it. Play us a song.’ So… But when I was a teenager, you know, high school for me wasn’t a big thing. It didn’t really mesh well with me. I have always had a problem with authority or authoritative systems which I find inefficient there’s a lot of problems in the school that I wanna solve about my own education. And in traditional educational institutions, you’re somewhat powerless to solve those problems yourself. You just have to kind of go with the flow until you’re out. For me that wasn’t a choice. I couldn’t – I just did not have the patience or energy to sit through four years of high school, so my first three months into it, I dropped out. And my parents were supportive of that. They were a little like they didn’t encourage me to drop out, but when I explained to them, you know, the difficulty I was having with the system and this educational system, they agreed. but they were never encouraging me to leave but they were very accepting of my choices and they helped me, you know, set myself up where I wanted to be which was in Florida, and amongst friends and amongst the creative people. And so, them being, you know, they could have sent me to a military school or something like that, or they could have been more hard-line, but they always trusted me and let me make my own choices for better or worse, and that’s what has instilled a lot of independence and confidence in me which kind of makes me who I am, I think. Erik: And that allowed your creativity and your passion for creativity to blossom? Chris: Yeah, absolutely. So my parents were always encouraging me to try something or, you know, they would – they would never force me to do something I didn’t wanna do, like they would always encourage me to try a lot of different things. So I did piano lessons, but then, you know, when I started not wanting to go or practice, they let me like drop it. I studied the upright bass for a while because this is the musical family path, it’s to pick an instrument, you know, and then study it for 20 years. So I played the upright bass for a while, I took lessons, I was in a youth orchestra, but eventually, I just kind of lost interest in – in that I played a lot of instruments, the saxophone, the French horn, I tried out probably ten different instruments, and there was a point where like I would be so enthusiastic through the portion of learning the basics of the instrument, how to play kind of a novice amateur songs, play some scales, but then once it got to the point where you really had to start practicing four hours a day to perfect it and turn it into a superior talent… It’s just – that was never for me. I needed more stimulants and there’s too much repetition in becoming a master of an instrument, and so it never really was a path for me, but they encouraged me to try everything. And, you know, if it’s not music, you know, maybe it’s science, maybe it’s all these things, so I was always doing things. They were always encouraging that.