Do you remember when you were younger at school and there was a class quiz you’d put your pencil case in between you and the person sitting next to you to prevent them from copying you? Or maybe, attempt to cover your answers with your hand, feeling increasingly frustrated when you realise that – oh, you ran out of hand – and can’t use your other because that’s holding the pen that you’re writing answers to?
I’m sure we’ve all had this experience (or similar) when we were younger. I won’t beat around the bush – hands up straight in the air for me! I remember when someone found out that I was writing a story about a fairy, ice princess for an English class and they decided to do the same. I cried when their story received “story of the week” (and even got to be put on the wall of amazing stories) but mine didn’t.
And of course, my 7-year-old self completely forgot about the incident when my story was put on the wall of fame a week later.
As time went on, I learnt the value of collaboration and working together. Things I made were better with other people’s opinions and comments (as long as they are constructive of course and not just, “Pauline, no.” which I’ve had in the past, from… academics)
I began to enjoy working in this way, sharing my ideas with others, sharing what I do and passing on what I know. Those who have been reading for a while would know this – I mean I literally share all my daily learnings and ideas on this blog and social media!
I moved away from keeping it all “a secret” with fear someone else would “steal my idea.” This newfound openness felt great.
Welcoming openness in my life is a value I have since been constantly practising every day; not just at a work or school setting but beyond that.
Until… it was not so great.
I believe in sharing to inspire.
I literally have a post title named that and endless posts with that core message. I feel happy when someone approaches me to tell me that they have started their own blog, started to learn how to code, started to realise the importance of health, that they are doing Hot Yoga now too, that spread my Gymshark-obsession on to them (you’re trapped, girl, trapped I tell you) or booked a trip to New York because my photos got them loving the hustle-and-bustle city life.
That influence is what I aim for, the impact of the few people I have now is motivating. I genuinely feel like I’m working towards my 8-year-old goal, which was to “make a positive impact on people” (this was also on my UCAS personal statement. Yes, I have been cheesy ever since.)
Now, I think it’s important to say that I do not think I invented any of the things I do. My whole message is “if I can do it, so can you!” Seeing others trying things that I go on about like meditation – I started seeing so many of you using Calm last year, my grin was hugeeeeee – makes me feel awesome.
Being influenced/inspired is a completely different game to blatant copying and pasting.
Copying and pasting, claiming something was “your idea” or is “your work” IS NOT being “inspired”. That is called plagiarism.
Back in my second year of University, I discovered two different people who had copied and pasted chunks of my LinkedIn profile on their own. I was upset because:
- I put in lots of effort: For those that know me well, I’m such a perfectionist. Especially the things I put out online. My LinkedIn profile was no exception. I rewrote my profile multiple times to get it to a point that I felt happy it represented who I was. That took immense effort so I didn’t appreciate people claiming it as their own because they did not spread a whole day rewriting it. No, they spent a good 2 seconds highlighting, right-clicking, copying and pasting.
- It’s my work: like, this was part of a bigger piece of work that was assessed and although I didn’t choose this LinkedIn component as part of the module, someone got marks for what I wrote.
Now with LinkedIn, there are so many people with similar backgrounds (from degree to societies joined) so it’s often difficult to write about things a different way but purely copying and pasting is and will always be wrong. Thankfully, I managed to openly talk to people I have found do this and everyone has been super understanding which is fantastic (if you know me well, you’d know I hate confrontation…)
This, along with various other examples in my life (like recently from copying my digital life up to the copying every word of my Instagram captions and tweets) taught me some huge lessons in life on how to deal with the inevitable human emotions – irritation, annoyance and sometimes even anger.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”
In the past, I would roll my eyes at this because at the time, I didn’t care – they were copying my work and that wasn’t cool. They were automatically put on a mental list of people I disliked.
As most of you know, improving my awareness is something I’ve been doing religiously for the last year with meditation and mindfulness practice. These negative feelings associated with people stealing my work or imitating me hit me straight in the face once they arose.
This made me realise that holding onto these negative emotions isn’t fun – it feels constricting, exhausting and is just plain sucky.
So I decided to change the way I look at people copying me.
They’re not inherently bad people that liked to just steal things and take credit for it, they’re people that like my work.
They’re people who think what I’m doing is pretty cool (or at least not awful) and are motivated to do the same – isn’t that what I always wanted to do? Yes! It’s my motivation.
Of course, I’m not saying let people off when they are clearly plagiarising your creative work – definitely have a conversation with them about it – but instead of letting anger blur your vision, look at it using different lenses. Lenses that are appreciative and grateful for them following your work and championing it, even if that is in the least expected form of support.
A few weeks ago, I was caught up in feelings of irritation and annoyance when I saw another pattern of Ctrl C and Ctrl V on my digital work and presence. I angrily went on a rant to Matt, who reminded me that things like this will always happen and is inevitable when you’re exceeding with things. People want to do and be the same!
He was right (not always, but this time, he was. 😆)
So now, when these feelings arise, I’m taking a step back to remember my purpose along with the core reason I started and haven’t stopped… which is ultimately:
…to spread those pawsitive vibes and inspiration like confetti to change the world, one heart at a time. 😉
TL:DR: After all, even with copied and pasted footprints, nobody can be more you, than you.
Now, isn’t that so freeing?