Imitation is NOT a Dirty Word (it isn't even four letters)

Imitation is NOT a Dirty Word (it isn’t even four letters)

This is the Day 11 Prompt of the #Trust30 challenge.

Day 1 Challenge | Fabian Kruse | Divine Idea

Imitation is Suicide. Insist on yourself; never imitate. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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?

Ok. I am trying really hard to pull the positive intention out of today’s thought. With all due respect to Fabian, I am just over this whole idea. Sometimes hyperbole can be taken too far. This, in my opinion, is one of those times.

Suicidal tendencies…never imitate…really? Sounds a bit…much to me.

Understand, while I do not have the pleasure of knowing him, I can tell by Fabian’s work at The Friendly Anarchist that there are many things we would agree on, some we would not, and some that would just have to be sorted out due to semantics. I think this one may be semantics, but I cannot be sure. So, I will do my best to articulate my point of view.

First, the word “unique” is a can of worms all by itself. According to Merriam Webster, the history of the word “unique” has been a challenged one. It contains in its various meanings both the properties of being sole and without like to distinctively characteristic and unusual. The original definition was found to be “affected and useless.” The word did not come back into popular usage until the latter definition allowed for a greater appropriateness of use.

Therefore being “unique” does not require that you be “sole.” (I feel the urge to now draw a comparison with the word “soul,” but I will spare you the self-indulgence.) “Unique” is simply “distinctive.” And I can assure you, thankfully, there are other pots out there just as cracked as you or I.

Imitation, in and of itself, is not a terrible thing. It is how we teach our children, learn different abilities, get comfortable with new tasks – we imitate those before us. Even when we are breaking out of the box, we are employing tactics of box breaking that have been used before. Since we were a minute and a half old, we cease to ever be able to operate on a wholly blank slate. We are a product of those things we know to have gone before us. Whether we operate in support of or in rebellion against a previous example, we cannot deny the influence of that example.

Representing that divine idea in my authentic self does not require that I push off the positive influences and examples provided by others. I am appreciative of the model to follow, the lessons learned thereby avoiding mistakes already made for a host of new ones I will make myself.

So, I will continue imitating where I feel it is useful and appropriated without fear or guilt of others believing that I am suicidal or in some other way deficient on my own two feet. I am, in actuality, confident enough to appreciate the wealth of ability in both myself and you. Teach me a better way and I will imitate it – and buy you lunch for your ingenuity and willingness to share.

**Photo credit by  David M. Goehring


  1. Thanks for sharing! I believe it’s mostly semantics, even though we might see things a bit differently, too! 🙂

    Of course, Emerson is quite extreme in the quote I selected; but I believe he polarizes with the intention to make us think, and to find out about the underlying truth, a truth that is valid for ourselves. (Much in a sense of “making life work for you.”)

    When I wrote my prompt, I didn’t mean to say that any and all imitation was a bad thing. But if we do no transcend the state of imitation in any area of our lives, I do believe we won’t evolve. Not as a single person, nor as humanity as a whole.

  2. I assumed you and I were more in agreement than we were apart. I love the feel of your online space. Your focus on playfulness and self expression encourage me to remember life is a playground.

    I am so glad you came by and more excited that ours paths crossed during the #trust30. I look forward to being further inspired by your views – they challenge me to think in different, yet still positive, ways. I appreciate that!

  3. Thank you for your kind words, April! Glad to have met you, and all the best for the rest of #trust30!

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