Don’t Be Afraid to Imitate

In our society today, why is it that creating something brand new that the world has never seen so impossible? It seems to me that anything that is created nowadays seems to be a remix of something else. A large majority of the movies out today are just remakes. Vanilla Ice made millions off a remix you have probably all heard of, and are singing in your heads right now. Vine (RIP) was an app that thrived off of parodies and remixes. Every single day, you come into contact with something that is just a remix of something else. So why is it overwhelmingly prevalent in our culture? Because we like to imitate things that inspire us.

It doesn’t matter if we are talking about music, movies, TV shows, you name it. It has all been done already. But, that doesn’t mean that we should stop creating! When I sit down to play the guitar, even if I am writing my own material, I am subconsciously playing music that I have heard before. I often find myself trying to write new songs and being unable to get past the fact that I’m just copying somebody else. It drives me crazy that I can’t play a chord that already hasn’t been played. There was a time where I wanted to be original so badly that I would rather not write a song at all, then write something that is just another remix. I don’t want my stuff to be copied, so why would I copy someone else? But there is a big difference between copying and remixing.

It is human nature to imitate others. We are constantly looking for inspiration, for something or someone to admire. Everyone is inspired by someone. And when we find that inspiration, it is normal to try to create something that gives us the same feelings as our inspiration. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. The most important thing to remember here is, just because you imitate someone else, that doesn’t mean you yourself can’t be great. Kobe Bryant tried to imitate Michael Jordan his whole career. But does that mean Kobe isn’t an incredible player, himself? NO! Rihanna is inspired by Beyoncé and tries to be like her in a lot of ways. Jim Carrey modeled his career after Andy Kaufman, yet he isn’t called just another copycat. All of these celebrities have others that they try to imitate.

But once again, imitating is totally different than copying. Kobe isn’t called a copycat because he takes parts of Michael Jordan’s game and integrates that into his own style. Even Michael Jordan who is arguably the greatest basketball player to ever live had role models of his own who he tried to mimic. There is no other way to achieve greatness but to imitate someone who is already great. All of these celebrities are doing the same thing we are doing, which is remixing someone else’s work in one way or another.

I don’t know about you, but this gives me hope. Once I get past the fact that my content is going to resemble someone else’s, I can be as creative and innovative as I want. Remixing is NOT bad! But we live in a world where we are pressured every day to be different if we ever want to get noticed. We grew up getting told we have to set ourselves apart from the competition if we want to succeed. But, what they didn’t tell us is that we have to first imitate them in order to set ourselves apart from them. This doesn’t mean copy their every move. This means learning from them, taking qualities of someone else that you admire, and applying them to your own personal strengths. So don’t get caught up on the fact that original material doesn’t exist. Because you can still be yourself despite that.