To Imitate Or Not To Imitate (That's Not The Question)

by - July 01, 2013

There's a time when you imitate and a time when you're being imitated, atleast that's what my society teacher said to me. He also said that the border between those periods was at mid-adolescense. Hereby saying that you've been “completed” at around the age of sixteen.

I find that a very bold and incorrect statement. I believe that from the beginning until the end everyone plays both roles. By immitation we learn from eachother and ourselves. Suggesting that only the first or so decade counts, is like giving it a golden plate without knowledge of the outcome. Ignoring the rest of a lifetime where literally anything could happen is therefor unadvisable.

We start imitating our surroundings the moment we are set on earth, so why would it suddenly stop? It makes me question what kind of person becomes of it (a very not-humanlike person I bet).
The thing about imitation is that it's very straight to the point and puts you in someone else's point of view. It's a very educational experience and it wonders me why people are often so negative about it.

“Better fail in originality than succeed in imitation”, Herman Melville once said. However I think imitation is part of a progressive scheme, like following Jean-Luc Godard “it's not where you take things from-it's where you take them to”.

When I'm uninspired and don't know what to do, I come back to a safe haven with things printed in my mind and just go for that. Not as an ultimate destination, but as a tool to help me get a step further. Immitation can help coping with something you don't know what to do about or how to act upon something. It's not always as sincere, but keep in mind that it's a resource.

There's a world of difference between watching your grandmother knit and actually holding a knitting needle in your hand. Imitation is more about process than content and can be the source of awakening ambition.

Nowadays it's all about pretending a posture simultaneously means feeling likewise. However to the wisdom of the old: we become what we see in ourselves. How can we see something without being influenced by our surroundings? Because when you're not looking, you're not seeing. And so when our learning process ends mid-adolescence, there need to be a lot of imitating going on in such a short period to cover for the rest of your life. It will be out of proportion and thereby not valid.

Society is focused upon authenticity. You've got to credit everyone/everything you take things from. However sometimes you copy and paste without realizing it. You get inspired by something and before you know it, you've been emerged into their scenery.

You need to be aware of yourself when you use imitation as a destination. Don't force yourself into something you're frankly not. When I was younger I had ambitions to be different. Everything was orientated on being someone no one else was. I thought I could become this ultimate rare specimen by copying elements of people I adored (perhaps you should forget logic). At some point I became very frustrated with myself. I couldn't do anything, I questioned everything and spend my days mostly moaning and crying.

Suddenly it struck me: it's not about being different, but about being yourself (a corny story, I know).You can imitate as long as you don't outnumber yourself. Because when you take yourself to the front, you do things your way. The imitation isn't an imitation because you stand in front of it. Does that make sense?

I still have a great urge to be “different”. Only know I approach it as ammunition. I do what I like and not just in the name of “I wanna be...”. So again immitation isn't something bad and people who immitate shouldn't see it as a way to alter yourself into something you're not. 

Imitation is often a compliment to the imitated, though it can be very annoying (especially when you're in a “I wanna be different” phase). Back in high school I was very quiet. No one ever really talked to me. So when someone talked to me, I got a wee bit excited. Particularly when I could talk about things that interested me. A downside to the excitement is that others also got excited. It even gets worse when not long after everyone is hopping around with your interests (it can drive a person hopping mad). It also hurts a bit when you realize that the same people hopping around with “your stuff”, previously bullied you about “your stuff”. Moreover, they are done with it within a few weeks. Where as you would probably enjoy it for like a year (but now obviously denies its existence when it became widely known by the cool crowd).

Imitation is educational, but doesn't give you the power to become someone you're not. Imitation can provide you the spark you needed to strive for a certain desire, wish or ambition. You can look through someone's eyes and decide if it's appropiate to you. Don't deceive yourself, because at the end it's all about you and not the “I wanna be you”. 


Sources: Picture 1/Picture 2

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