Imitation; NOT the Best Form of Flattery

Photo by, Ryan McGuire

There is a guy with a Youtube channel, who goes by the handle Infinite Waters. You may not have heard of him, he’s only got about a gazillion watchers.  In one of his many (many) videos, he says that he got where he is by being himself, that there was no prescribed path to follow. This is one of the most encouraging, yet aggravating bits of information I have come across to date.

Where then, is the well-marked road I’m searching for?  Where are the mile markers?  True Happiness, 40 miles?  How about Enlightenment in 9 Easy Steps?  …No?  Then who, exactly, am I supposed to follow?   I try to consult my inner Self, hoping she can lead me to the guru I’m looking for, but she just gives a distracted shrug, pouring over some map I can’t read, trying to figure out where the blazes we are to begin with.  And I, that small self that has no clue what else to do, try to imitate others who seem to have it all together.

Like my friend, who is an incredible intuitive.  She has helped so many gain perspective, find peace and reawaken their zest for life, using her abilities coupled with compassion and humor. Wanting to emulate her, I asked endless questions about her gift, her techniques, sat in on many a reading, all of which she gave graciously and freely. She says I have gifts of my own, and to an extent, I believe her, but I still get the feeling there is something missing.

Or my partner, who is an amazing artist. His lines are clean, his style bold. When he draws, he always seems to know the parameters; how big the finished piece will be, the colors he will use, keeping in the back of his mind the components of a good composition as he works. I endeavored to draw just like him, my hands cramped as I tried to tidy up what sprawled across the page.  I learned a lot, and got decent results, but there was still something missing.

Turns out, IW is on to something. (As usual.) What is missing is me. I’m not my friend or my partner, no matter how generously they give of their time and support. It is no easy thing, to quit comparing myself to those around me, to decide (Sometimes on an hourly basis.) that I am enough just being me, but it’s worth it.

Imitation may be the greatest form of flattery to another, but are you doing yourself a disservice by trying to be someone else? Is it building your confidence and clarity, to silence yourself in order to speak with the voice of another? To be successful, they say, look at those who have gone before, see what they do, and copy what you can to reach the top. But isn’t it just another form of self flagellation , to adopt the path of another, when your heart, your unique mind, or even spirit is pointing you in a different direction? Does imitation for imitation’s sake not say, “Who I am is not enough, so I must be someone else.”? For me, this line of thinking quickly leads to feeling like an imposter in my own body.

Maybe it is time to ‘imitate’ ourselves, to flatter ourselves. I’ve learned it’s a lot more comfortable than walking around in someone else’s ill-fitting skin. Instead, how about doing one small thing that feels right for you?  If you are a leaning-toward-vegetarian in a family of carnivores, try having a salad for one meal. If you fight your hair every morning, let it fall where it likes. Try yourself on, see how you feel. The results can be surprising.

How much less anxiety might you experience, if you didn’t have to worry about which mask you’re wearing? How much more energy might you have? Stoke your internal fires with the fuel of your own passions, your own thoughts and aspirations. Fill your heart up with the joy of being you. Heal yourself by listening to your wisdom, and you heal others as well.

I love my inspirational media, but too many external voices (even positive ones) can sometimes drown out my own. If this is true for you as well, try turning them off for a while, listen for your Self.  What makes you feel open, expansive? What action sounds terrifying and awesome at once?  Do that. Ditch the ‘imitation as flattery’ thing and try expressing gratitude to those whom you admire instead.  A little genuine love and attention from yourself can go a long way.  There is only one map that can show you where your version of success and happiness lies.  Give yourself the gift of following your own inner Guru. You have an excellent sense of direction.

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