Imitation is Suicide. Insist on yourself; never imitate. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Write down in which areas of your life you have to overcome these suicidal tendencies of imitation, and how you can transform them into a newborn you – one that doesn’t hide its uniqueness, but thrives on it. There is a “divine idea which each of us represents” – which is yours?
(Author: Fabian Kruse)
For the record, this is the most difficult post yet. It’s taken 4 days to let it simmer because the topic hits close to home.
I’ve been in situations where I’ve been highly encouraged to imitate others in order to reach my dream. I’ve been asked to create content based on what’s been done in the past, mainly to fall in line under existing categorical expectations.
I’ve felt pressured to move to “cool” neighborhoods and have occasionally felt ridiculed for pursuing personal passions like fitness, veganism, or nerdier quests in my career. Even petty things like wearing high heels when I’m already pretty tall.
Although I have a heightened (ha) awareness of it, I never really cared much about being judged. And I never let it affect my decision-making process.
Yet for some reason in my work, I could never trust myself enough to be unique. I thought that I needed to do what everyone else was doing in order to be any good. What I didn’t know is that the “good” comes over time with originality, practice, and purpose.
I understand that folks want to us to be a certain way because the process of categorization is a trusted and easy to replicate formula. It’s an excellent default for making sense of things in the world. I also understand that creating new ways of synthesizing information require a lot of work around acceptance (and self). And who wants to create more questions in a world where everything is questionable enough?
When it comes to work, I’ve been referencing this talk by Ira Glass from This American Life a lot lately. In essence, he explains that as artists we want to do something new and interesting. We know what’s cool and what it is that we’re aiming for. But it’s not gonna happen on the first take, or even on the twentieth. It takes a long time and lots of hard work to get to the level where we’d like our work to be.
In order to be original, we need to practice and experiment, record and re-record, and eventually develop a method that satisfies our vision in a compelling way.
We also need the confidence to keep driving forward. Sometimes, this comes from no one. Mostly, it comes from within.
My outlets for self-expression are in my writing, my mix show, DJ’ing, digital art, and how I choose to produce and curate content. I’m still finding my unique voice which is a thrilling process in itself. Because of this, my work always changing and growing, and I love receiving positive feedback and encouragement from others. I try to as much as possible to fuel my passions, which makes them completely my own and that much more fulfilling.
And, hopefully, someday they’ll fuse in some form or another to create something totally new.
The divine idea that best represents me is to always encourage others to pursue their passions in a new way, and keep at it until it’s great. It’s finding the time and dedication to bask in the newness, the process of breaking out to do something clever, and remaining completely committed to that vision along the way.