We all know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. At first, I was flattered too. But after awhile, it became annoying. I’m frustrated by the countless replicated shoes, household design elements, vacation spots and even choice of pet that are swiped by my friends, the copycats.
Listen, I don’t lay claim to everything I discover as if I had invented it. And I don’t want to come off like a threatened 4th grader “Stop copying me!” It actually makes me smile that someone would pick up my “unique” use of words and phrases (calling the boss bucko or proclaiming an ex resides in Lametown, USA). Yes, I am flattered that someone would want to try their hand at my recipes of refinishing furniture, painting a mural on the garage or whipping up my legendary lasagna. When I find a fabulous product or movement that I want to tout, I share it and encourage others to try it, buy it and support it.
Lately I’m noticing that copying is apparent everywhere. Relationship copycatting is the most maddening. I have witnessed countless friends that suddenly find their significant other’s interests the coolest thing ever. They throw themselves into NASCAR or sports or the vegan lifestyle of their new beloved to completely lose what makes them a beautiful, original woman.
Yes, it’s easier to improve upon or filch a great idea, but what ever happened to an original thought, an inventive plan, finding your own way?
Here’s what you need to ask yourself:
Are you a Copycat?
Do you find yourself adopting the interests and choices of others? Suddenly your best friend’s music choices, cute bob haircut and vacations to Costa Rica are interesting to you. You start following the rodeo circuit or rattle off the Chicago Bears’ stats because your new boyfriend is a fan? Whatever the situation, you are drawn to the likes of others. You just can’t help the “me too” that rushes out of you, complimenting and memorizing it for your next purchase or pastime.
Why do it?
The good news is that you are inspired by others. Perhaps you emulate others because you genuinely like their ideas and wish you had thought of it first. Or maybe you are more likely to get accepted or stand out. But remember that directly copping a style, hobby or creative endeavor can seem rude or even lazy. Sponging ideas takes away from the originator, impeding her ability to be a showstopper. It can be tempting to “borrow” bright ideas, especially because it has been proven to work. It’s natural to want the same reaction. However, looking to others to pave the way will prove you to be a follower, leaving you disempowered.
Cut it out!
It is flattering to notice and compliment new hobbies of your friends and family and even learn more about said trait. A newfound appreciation for something you wouldn’t normally consider is great, but completely shadowing his or her choices is unbecoming. Although you may have the best intentions of honoring a smart move, copying implies that you have no interests or creativity of your own. Instead, try asking the person how they were inspired or where the coveted item was purchased and gauge their response for clues. Perhaps try a variation of their creation and thank them for the inspiration.
Take it from a sister who knows, instead of copying and pasting another’s efforts, start radiating independence and confidence in your own special talents. You’ll stop annoying your trend-setting friends and you may just discover a love for something completely your own.