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The truth is there always going to be someone who imitates you. And no, I am no talking about the people, who write you a thank note saying how much they appreciate your idea, and how much you inspired them to try to do the same.
No. I am talking about those others. The people, who copy-paste your gratitude sentence on Facebook because they think it will bring them the same likes you got. The ones, who steal your idea during a coffee break and pitch it as their own at the next board meeting. The ones, who cut their hair the same style you cut the last week. The ones, who strategically stalk your moves to mirror them.
I don’t know how you feel about these moves, but it can be frustrating. And at times, it can be more than just frustrating. You can get furious, and let’s be honest, you just want to strangle these human copy machines. The other day, I came across a ‘copy machine’. And my first reaction was close to the one in which you strangle. But then I decided to take a step back. I took a deep breath, and I was determined to find another edge to the re-portraying of my work.
As a ballerina, we often spotted if a choreographer stole even the tiniest movement from someone else. We would make competitions who could find out first where that jump came from. We became very critical. Until one day, one of our ballet masters told us: “Stealing is allowed until you make something better from it.” And she was right!
I took a look at the replica of my work, and I started to observe:
Did she manage to make something better from it? Did she find an even better way to say what I wanted to say? Did she pitch the story even more to the point than I told her? Did she pen that paper even more accurately than I did? Did she manage to find a better fit accessory to that dress I bought first?
If she did, well, good for her. And what’s in it for you? The chance to make it even better. To find the way to make something even better from it. Is it a vicious circle? Most probably – or at least until one of you gets a brand new idea and moves on. But until then? Just enjoy, how you hugger-muggerly empower each other.
And what if her replica didn’t add anything better to the original idea but still gets the reflector light? Swallow it, and move on. And know that nobody can fully replica you work. Even if it looks the same, it was born from your journey, from your personal story. And what about her reproduction? It will miss something essential: it will miss the sweat, the thoughts, the daydreams, the cries, the struggles, the self-doubts, the self-reassurances; it will miss the soul.
So just keep on creating, and don’t bother about the copy machines.