Generation-Y has one excuse for quitting, breaking up, giving up and starting anew. I am sure that you have muttered these words at least on two occasions in your life already and will surely mutter it a few more before you find what you believe yourself to be looking for. What are those words?
“I need to find myself.”
Funny words with an important meaning. Most of the time we don’t know that we were lost to begin with — that is until we come to realize that where we are, what we are doing and whom we are doing it with isn’t right for us. So what is right for us? We imagined certain lives for ourselves when we were younger and although much has changed since we were toddlers, the nostalgia left behind reminds us of what it is that we want — or rather, reminds us that what we have at the moment isn’t actually what we want.
Growing up, we try different things. We experiment and try to find ourselves. But how do you find yourself when you aren’t Waldo? How do you find yourself if you don’t even know where to begin searching? Well, we find ourselves by combining the dreams we had when we were younger with the dreams that we have now and that we will pick up along the way.
We all have things that we want as part of our lives. These things don’t necessarily have to be material; they don’t even have to be physical. For example, the one thing I want more than anything else is waking up each and every morning just as happy or happier than the morning before. We find ourselves in our dreams, but not just by achieving them. In fact, we learn just as much about ourselves by achieving them as by the process of achieving them in itself.
In the end we aren’t looking for things, we are looking for entire life packages. Sure, we may go around saying to ourselves that we want the Ferrari that guy is driving, the Jimmy Choo’s she’s wearing, or the Soho loft that couple lives in, but what we really want is not the material. What we want is the whole package; we want the dream. We want the life that these people are living. We find our dreams in the lives of others and for this very same reason we find ourselves in the lives of others. We learn and grow by imitation — it’s the way that it has been since we were babies and the way that it will continue to be until we outline the shadow that is ourselves.
Imitation often comes paired with a negative connotation. If you are purchasing an imitation then you are downgrading form the original. If you are imitating someone else, then you surely cannot be better than the original, right? Wrong. The beauty about us humans is that we are intelligent enough to pick what it is that we like and dislike before we adapt anything as our own.
When younger, we had more trouble with this — which is why many of you I am sure have had parents tell you that they didn’t want you hanging out with so-and-so, because they were a bad influence on you. Your friends had bad habits and your parents either noticed that you were already beginning to imitate them or were otherwise worried that you would begin to imitate them. We imitate others on a regular basis; it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
In fact, the sooner that you come to grips with the fact that you are little more than bits and pieces of the people you met along the way, the faster and safer you can guide your ship to the shore. Imitation is one of the greatest tools that we have at our disposal — if we learn to use it correctly. By imitating others, we are able to find ourselves.
There is a finite set of things that any human is capable of and an even stricter set of things that we do regularly. The way we talk, walk, act…whatever physical actions we go through on a regular basis, we have picked up from somewhere. If you look at your close circle of friends and family members, you will notice some uncanny similarities between your habits and theirs.
The words you use, your inclination of tone, your sense of humor, your hobbies, your eating habits — are all influenced by those around you. Influence — in our cases — is not a simple force acting upon us from the outside; we choose to do what we do. We imitate those around us because we believe that by doing so, we will come one step closer to finding ourselves.
Imitation is the best — if not only — way to find yourself, to find the person that you already know yourself to be. We are creatures that depend on society for survival. We are singular, yet at the same time reliant on the many. This is not as much of a burden as it would seem. Besides the fact that loneliness is harsh, we want to surround ourselves with others in order to learn from them.
We look at others and see the actions they are taking. We see the effort they are putting in, the planning, the thoughts that go into it all and, most importantly, we see the results that follow. We believe success and happiness to be the result of a process — for this reason we imitate in hopes of achieving the same result. We can’t possibly know what we like or don’t like before trying it. The problem is that there are so many things to try and to do that it can be difficult figuring out where to start. So, we start where others that we trust or get along with started.
We take a look at what they enjoy and we imitate them in hopes of getting to know ourselves better. Over time, we come to conclude whether or not we enjoy these things ourselves and by doing so get one step closer to finding who we are as individuals. Imitation isn’t necessarily the greatest form of flattery; most often you simply want to know what all the fuss is about.