“We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
That old mantra that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery may work for some people but I know a whole slew of others who really hate being copied.
Now copying can take place in many forms and arenas.
As children we look to parents, and then as teens, to peers for acceptance and fitting in. As adults it gets more complicated.
It can be as simple as following the advice and experience of a mentor exactly, or as insidious as plagiarism calling a work your own. There have been numerous examples throughout history dealing with creative works of art, literature, journalism, and so on where the true artist was ‘taken over’ by a forfeited. Often the real cannot be deciphered from the fake or copied piece. An expert would be required to determine the authenticity, and even then there have been mistakes made and heavy prices financially and emotionally exacted.
Now the other copying that takes place is on a one to one basis. Here the person emulates the style of manner, speech, dress, or taste of someone else and adopts it to suit themselves.
If you are a male and a business associate imitates your practice or way of doing business you may be in for competition. The new kid on the block may even go you one better standing on the shoulders of what he learned from you. That can be a hard pill to swallow.
If you are a female that can happen too but more often than not females emulate one another in manner, fashion, or style.
What is especially funny to see is when someone copies your hair style, for example, and they look awful. If they dress like you but do not have your figure that too can be amusing to observe. If they copy your manner, it may or may not suit them. If you are competitive, which we all are in some form or another, it can be really annoying and friendships have gone awry as a result.
If you are an innovator and have worked really hard to be the individual that you are, and someone comes along and usurps it, it can make you furious. If you are secure and know you will always be the best at what you are, then it is not such a difficult task, emotionally.
If you are in fact an innovator you will probably always be one step ahead of the pack and you can keep that in mind. There will never be another you; not in totality!
It is the story of two young people who lived in Babylon as neighbors. Their families were hostile to one another but the two fell in love as teenagers.
There was a crack between their houses through which they communicated when they were unable to see one another. They had a meeting place and it was at night under a mulberry tree filled with white fruit that was outside the city gates. It was near a stream by a cemetery.
One night Thisbe, hidden behind a veil, waited for Pyramus to come. All of a sudden a lioness fresh from a kill with bloody paws appeared to drink from the stream. Thisbe was frightened and ran into a nearby cave dropping her veil.
The lioness got caught in it and ripped it to shreds.
Pyramus arrived at the meeting place and found the bloody ripped veil. Unable to find Thisbe and overcome by sorrow he plunged the sword into his chest, spraying blood over the white fruit on the tree, turning it purple.
Thisbe having recovered from her fright, went back to the meeting place and discovered Pyramus.
Unable to control her agony she took his sword and killed herself.
Her dying words to the gods were that they be buried together in a single tomb and that the tree should always
bear fruit of a mournful color; purple. To this day the ripe mulberry fruit has a dark purple color to commemorate their unrequited love. Sweet, no?
When was the last time you read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliete?
He wrote it probably between 1591 and 1595.
Does it make it any less wonderful as a story? I think not.
So there’s a case of a copycat that worked in its’ time and place.
New ideas are old ideas that are improved upon. Original is not often from scratch.
We can learn from those who do things well, or have figured out ways to make us look, feel, or behave better.
Nothing wrong with that.
A little competition along the way keeps the juices flowing and lets us know we matter to others, and they are observing us. We too need to follow the examples we admire and want to emulate.
In the end we are all just who we are with, hopefully, improvements as we move along.
“Don’t waste your time thinking about who you ought to be; just be content with who you’re becoming.” – Anonymous