I'm sure you've heard phrases like, "You just like ya pa (father)!" "You're the spitting image of your mother." Or, "I wanna be like you when I grow up." Shoot, back in the 90's everyone was singing, "I wanna be like Mike!"
On the other hand, there are well-known brands, and then there are generic brands. There is a clear and distinct contrast between designer pieces and their knockoff. And there are palatable differences between authentic Italian pizza and pizza bought from the frozen food section.
Either way, deep in the recesses of who we are, we want to be set apart; we desire to be 'the first.' We want to be that standard by which all bars are set. Humans, at their core, want to be the chef's kiss to anything they put their hands to.
But Prophetess Lauryn Hill reminds us, though, that 'there is nothing new under the sun; everything you did has already been done.' I suppose it was her paraphrasing Solomon from Ecclesiastes 1:9. So how then can anything be an original copy? How can anything I do, be unlike or not compared to that of someone else's? How can I be an individual who stands out? What can possibly make me different from thingummabob down the street?
I don't know if you had the same issue, but my OCD would kick in whenever I had a note from school that was a noticeable copy of the 100th copy. I would low-key have the heebie-jeebies looking at that faded crest at the top of the sheet and the lopsided lines that looked to be falling off the paper. I suppose it's the same jitters I feel when I'm compared to others. The thing about comparison is it's okay if I do it, but nobody better dare compare me to anyone else. You know how we say it, "Don't mix me up!"
Why then are we hell-bent on replicating, to the letter, what we see others do? Don't get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with using the template, but I firmly believe that you should leave an imprint once you've touched something. Your signature should be clear and visible. Like the US of A, you should erect a flag that says, "I was here!"
I'll be honest; I wanted to quit after twenty short months of blogging. I was coming in late on an already saturated market. It seemed like everywhere I looked, someone was releasing a book or blogging—being a content creator and a creative of some kind. And while a part of me feels I should be some overnight phenomenon, as if I have the monopoly on my own unique style, the truth is, good writers are a dime a dozen.
Never mind, this has been something I have wanted to do for years. I was ready to give it all up because I wasn't getting the reaction I'd hoped for. Is that why we do what we do, for the applause? 'Cause there I was asking where were the scores of people that kept telling me, "Girl, you should write a book!" Or the support of those five hundred friends I have on Facebook? Then (insert annoyed, but I get it, sigh) I came across the meme about the bread aisle. The irony is I'm not everyone's cup of tea, but my tea is beneficial to those that need it. Sometimes that can be 1 or 100; either way, I needed to learn to be okay with that.
I don't care what; I don't switch-it-up when it comes to my tea and coffee labels. I don't deviate from what I know. Yes, I've tried many, and I come back to the same brands I know to hit just how I like it. The ones that in my book are tried and true. It's the same that when guys, and girls alike, have a 'type,' you can do summersaults on command; it won't change what someone prefers. No matter how amazing you are, what you bring is not what they desire.
We are not the same
This season I thought it prudent to give you the other sides of the story. As women, we have a tendency to highlight the negative parts of the men we've encountered. The truth is there was also something about them that made me stay. Some qualities caused me to love them, despite the mangled end. And truth be told, at one point, if, given the opportunity, I might have even gone back.
I can sit here and say by far none of them were the same. Yes, I'm guilty of saying it was the same guy in a different suit (insert shame face), but sis wasn't being 100. Still, after my salty had subsided, I'll be honest and say each bought something unique to the table. There is no comparison, and I stayed in each situation for unrelated reasons. Whether or not any of those reasons made sense is not the point I'm trying to make. Each fella highlighted a side of me that the other was not able to access. And I didn't like them for the similarities; I liked them because they were not the same.
I remember my first time seeing a therapist; I was in my mid-twenties and failing miserably in the relationship department. I had not quite figured out how to communicate effectively, and I thought that certain things should go without saying. Whew, chall, if strong and wrong was a person. Even more, I thought that my over animation came across as the sheer volume of how much I cared. That was a negative.
Anyway, my therapist had asked me to make a list of something, I can't remember exactly what. But I know at the next session, I pulled out my list, typed, double spaced, bullet point, justified to the left, with a bold cursive heading. As I handed him the list, he smiled and said, "Wow, this presentation alone speaks volumes about who you are as a person! You're very passionate."
He went on to say that he'd asked many of his patients to complete that exercise. And many came in with their list written on the back of an old bill, or the page is torn from a book or scribbled on a sheet of paper, and that's if they even did the exercise at all. The mere fact that I sat there and went to the trouble says that I'm a stickler for details. Now, you'd think this was a desired relational quality; to date, it is not in the life of Raquel. However, it comes in handy in so many other areas. Eventually, I had to ask myself, do I really want to suppress that aspect of me? So, I'll ask you, "Why are you shrinking to fit in?"
An original copy IS an original. People typically refer to the document as the original if it is the first one created, but some will say original copy. Let's say I run that original through the copy machine. Thus, I end up with 2 copies of the same thing (yes, plural)—the original and it's duplicate (content-wise).
In essence, you are an original copy. David and Saul were both anointed King. What made them different? Attitude, perspective, heart, integrity, humility. While Saul is what we call the original copy in this regard, he allowed pride to cause him to be replaced. And that's just it about a copy, original or not; it can be replaced. No? Have you ever misplaced or had your passport stolen? I rest my case.
Then there is Rachel and Leah, both wives of Jacob. This is the same Jacob we talked about last week. Now ain't life a beach? More so then than now, childbearing was the quintessence of womanhood, but the wife he loved more, could give him no children. Yet, the less desirable was spitting 'em out like popcorn. Nothing shy of a miracle could cause Rachel to bear children. In other words, you can be everything you think a man wants you to be, and he still may not choose you and vice-versa. Let's not get carried away thinking that women have no say in that matter. All the same, who you are will never be enough for who is not meant to have you.
Have you ever seen a pair of twins dressed alike from head to toe? To you, it may be hard to tell who is who, but to their parents, there are very distinct traits that set them apart.
In past relationships, I wanted to be the Hallmark of girlfriends' past. I wanted to be the most supportive, the most understanding, the most thoughtful. But guess what? Suppose none of those things are inherently who you are. In that case, you can't keep it up, and you get stressed out and tired when all your efforts go unnoticed and underappreciated. Worse, suppose those qualities are not what the other person holds in high regard? How to know you're an original? You do what you as involuntary as blinking.
Because you aren't hitting points of some checklist won't make you any less unforgettable. I don't care what no one says; I'm a whole vibe! Maybe your area of strength and value is different. The thing about being mate-worthy has nothing to do with your skillset. If that were the case, all the successful, educated, self-made women would be booed up, and the uncouth, vapid women would be single. I've had men say to me, "You're amazing; how are you not married?" I'll tell you, what makes me, me ain't for the faint of heart.
I don't know about you, but I don't think I'd ever want to remind someone of their ex or be compared to them, for that matter. For the mere fact that they are not together, I think it's safe to say this is NOT a compliment.
I've come to realize that there are a lot of fake things in this world. There are fake pictures, fake news, fake results, and the worst of them all, fake people. The reason why that happens probably has to do with the difficulty of being "original." Let's face it, so much of what we do has been done before. A lot of it is the same message, just new packaging. And once you've set a bar, the expectation will always be for you to exceed that.
As a society, we are under constant pressure to be number one. In our human nature, it is difficult for us to feel good about our own abilities if we are not the best, the forerunner, the fastest, the prettiest, or the most successful person. There is this incessant need that we've got to work harder; we've got to run faster, we have to outdo what was done previously.
To all that, I have one solution, Just stop being fake! Why not be you? Whether that is polished to the T or rough around the edges. Listen, I'm not saying write some tell-all having all your business in the streets. But if you know, you're a mess and in a place of self-exploration and healing, why are you on social media posting YOLO? Believe it or not, it's okay to exercise your right to remain silent. In fact, it's encouraged. The less you say, the less ammunition you give folks to use you against you.
God has already done all the heavy lifting. He created you. Being an original has nothing to do with how different you can be but more to do with embracing what simply is.