Photo: The U.S. Army via Flickr
Whenever I sit down to write, I am struck with the fear that ideas I’m about to share are unoriginal. I’m scared that what I’m going to pen has already been thought of before. You know what? It has.With human history dating back hundreds of thousands of years, it is safe to assume that someone, somewhere, at some point in time has done all of this already. Save for the continuous introduction of new technology, people fight the same fights, and win the same battles they have for generations. Austin Kleon even wrote a book on “How to steal like an artist,’ encouraging us to “figure out what’s worth stealing, and then move on to the next thing.”
The fear of being unoriginal in an innovation-obsessed society can be paralyzing. We regularly strive to be different in order to compete for profit and success. The irony is that nothing we say or do derives from an original place.
It feels subversive to understand our thoughts in this way because of America’s independent culture and society. We delve into the past, and reflect on significant lessons and leaders, heralding those who seem to have taken brave steps in new directions. Yet, rarely do we admit to recycling past ideas, updating them to reflect our current needs and status. We fear being unimaginative, clichéd and stale.
What is crucial to remember, is the importance of our own experience, and the uniqueness of our personal worldview. While many familiar thoughts circulate through generations, what remains original, and ultimately distinctive is the filter through which our ideas are processed and shared. Our exclusivity is born, not from our thoughts, but through our sharing of these ideas, through our own voice. These concepts become new as they pass through our frame of reference and interpretation.
We harness and exude originality, simply by being our best self. Despite the thoughts and concepts that repeat throughout time, our filter of feelings, past experiences, and viewpoints make them different. The best part is, the world needs our voice and our diversity of thought to add to the orchestra of ideas that prevail.
C.S. Lewis writes, “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of 10, become original without ever having noticed it.”
This post was originally published at melanieaxman.com.
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