It’s safe to say that most of us played, and enjoyed, the popular childhood game “hide and seek.” The heightened suspense of searching for your friends, the increasing excitement of looking for a good hiding spot, and the moment of surprise when being found has always been magically fascinating to kids. The hider and seeker, however, take different routes to reach their game time thrill, with the former taking a bumpy road to discovery and the latter finding an enclave for temporary disguise. Outside of this child’s game, we may also encounter situations where we have to choose to be an active seeker or the opposite. Can you recall those moments of choices? What did you usually choose to be?

Some would say this is just a matter of personality, with introverts choosing to be self-contained and extroverts chasing the spotlight. Yet, humans are complicated beings. Sometimes the quietest artists are doing the most avant-garde experimentations in their work, and the most outward going people can indulge into their own world playing computer games all day long. In addition, the entitlement of seekers and hiders carry distinct connotations to different individuals. Take myself as an example. I could have chosen to stay in my hometown near my parents, working in an average job after college, but I chose to take a big step forward in 2012, when I traveled alone to the U.S. pursuing a graduate degree. Although my friends may think going back home is a more reasonable choice, I regard that as an action of hiding from the rest of the world. And I want to be constantly searching for new experiences and knowledge… I want to be a seeker. Imagine you are at a splitting road, wondering which direction to go, would you be brave enough to take the road less traveled?

Of course, there are millions of ways to define being a hider or a seeker, some of which were brilliantly generated by team members of TEDxOhioStateUniversity. As we are a group of positive and innovative thinkers, either hide or seek, to us, carry more uplifting meaning. One response stood out, stating that “’hide’ represents overcoming adversity, ‘seek’ represents the search for new ideas and opportunities.” To some, hide and seek were in the same concept of understanding— “seeking ‘hidden’ ideas, cultures, things and sharing them with people.” Although hide can connote shyness, secret or being scared, it is also seen as things are simply neglected or meant to put away. While “seek” implies creativities, growth, exploration, transformation and in search of something new, it is as well related to joy, childhood, unexpected discoveries or the meaning of life.

With TEDxOhioStateUniversity’s 2018 Theme “Hide or Seek” just being revealed, I want to encourage you to reconsider these two simple, yet multi-faced, terms. What do they mean to you in different situations? What are you seeking out in life? What hidden treasures have you discovered?

We want to hear what this theme means to you, and we would love for you to apply to be a speaker at this year’s event. Check out our social media pages for more information on how to get involved!

-Yifan Xu