They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I don’t know who “they”* are but this used to be the last thing I’d want to hear growing up, frustrated by my mini me (younger brother) who followed and mimicked me around the school playground or in our games at home. The desire to be original and praised for my own creativity certainly didn’t leave me behind in the school yard either. All through high school, university and even in the workplace I often feel frustrated by being imitated, having my ideas stolen or even my way of doing things copied. Yet is imitation necessarily a bad thing?
What if you and I begun influencing people for all the right reasons, becoming someone others imitate because of our humility, our inclusiveness of others, our encouraging words or our willingness to lead others through tough times? What type of effect would this have in the world around you, the circles you mix amongst and the ripples you effectively create?
I spent my Easter weekend at my church’s annual Easter Camp for high-schoolers… 100 lively and excited teenagers for FOUR DAYS. It was amazing how out of touch I felt at times with this generation despite only being five years out of high school. THERE ARE SO MANY ACRONYMS! But there was one acronym I heard flying around all weekend, in fact if I earnt a dollar for every time I heard it, I may never have to work again. But this is an acronym that’s being used for all the wrong reasons.
You Only Live Once.
AKA license to do whatever the heck you want because life is all about having fun right?
Perhaps, but maybe it’s time to reevaluate. If we only live once, how can we make the most of our lives for the benefit of not just ourselves but others?
I was recently challenged by an article in Relevant magazine, a great American publication focused at twenty and thirty somethings full of, well, relevant stuff. The article made one very bold challenge: stop Instagramming your perfect life.
How often in the past week have you felt Instagram or Facebook envy? Jealous or discouraged by someone else’s perfect post? I’m sure I’m not the first person to admit that I’ve changed around food on my plate to make it look perfect for an early morning Instagram breakfast post (#beachbrekkie) or used three different apps to get the perfect lighting effects on a place I’ve been just to show-off my travels (#youwishyouwerehere). Isn’t it time we stopped the staged posts and started sharing in life genuinely?
“Let’s choose community. Let’s stop comparing. Let’s start connecting.”
What does it really mean to choose community and start connecting though? If we only live once how important are real, deep, genuine connections that transcend Instagram, Facebook or Twitter? If only I’d spent the time I’d invested in editing photos to create the perfect image, texting someone I hadn’t caught up with in a while to let them know I was thinking of them. Or used the time I’d spent being jealous of someone else’s travels as I lived vicariously through their Instagram feed by putting my head in a book that teaches me about those places and people groups.
Instead of being praised and copied for my artistic shots of coffee and clouds, I’d much rather be known and imitated for the time I invest in others and my passion for developing deeper relationships with my friends, my community.
As you only live one – is your one life worth imitating?
This week I’m going to concentrate on those relationships I’ve been neglecting. Why? #YOLO.
What about you?
PS: This post does not mark my resignation from Instagram… just expect a lot more posts featuring PEOPLE and not coffee or clouds 😉
* This saying is actually attribute to Charles Caleb Colton…props for alliteration.