Ralph Waldo Emerson is the source of inspiration for a new 30-day writing challenge. You can read more about it and sign up yourself here.
What Ralph Says
Imitation is Suicide. Insist on yourself; never imitate. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Courtesy of Fabian Kruse
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?
Strong language! I was initially a little turned off by this quote, as I consider suicide to be a very serious and triggery thing. Then I re-read it and had to admit the truth of it; imitating someone else is killing off part of our beautiful, unique, flawed and fabulous selves.
We learn imitation from the beginning of our lives. It’s how we learn to talk, eat, and behave. If we’re not careful, it’s also how we learn to deny our own truth as we go about the business of socialization and fitting in. If we’re lucky, we are led to the conclusion that what makes us different is to be celebrated, not erased in favor of what someone else deems acceptable.
My suicidal tendencies of imitation
I’ve done a lot of work on this, as for whatever reason I’ve always been into self-inquiry and personal growth. I look back on how far I’ve come from a middle school student desperate for peer approval to a drama dork who embraced her quirkiness. That doesn’t mean I never catch myself imitating others.
In the last two years, as I’ve stepped into the world of blogging and solopreneurship, I have come across some wonderful people to look up to. People like Havi Brooks, Marie Forleo, Kris Carr, Chris Guillebeau, and Goddess Leonie. These folks represent a diverse group and I get something different from each of them, but one thing they all champion is: Be yourself, learn from others AND do it your way.
Still, I find myself thinking shoulds, like:
“I should be blogging more often like Havi.” Havi herself admits that she blogs a crazy amount and in no way encourages other people to keep to her schedule unless they really, really feel like it.
“I should be offering more stuff for free, like Marie.” The reality is I have yet to find the balance on this one. I have bills to pay and a chai tea latte habit to support, but I want to offer my help whether I get paid or not.
“I should be crazy-sexier, like Kris.” Being a crazy sexy Wellness Warrior is Kris’ job. Yes, it’s a job she chose for herself after a scary cancer diagnosis. I have implemented a lot of what I’ve learned from her, but it is not my job to spend 24/7 on wellness and that’s okay.
How I can transform them
Like I said, this is a work in progress. Awareness is always key, and I’m getting better and better at being aware.
I practice meditation. I aim for 20 minutes a day, but even one minute of intentional mental timeout can make a difference.
I flail, not as often as
I should Havi, but on a regular basis.
I remember that when I stop trying to be like other people and just accept how I am, I feel an enormous sense of relief. That’s when I know that trusting myself was the right thing to do, even if it’s not what all the “experts” recommend.
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What’s one way you imitate someone else? What’s one unique thing about you that you completely own?