I have wanted to write this post for a very long time.
It's been over a year that these thoughts have ran over and over through the speed limits of my mind. Sometimes I tossed and turned while I laid in bed at night; wondering if I was selfish, crazy, jealous or simply making everything up. Perhaps it was a little bit of everything.
I went to school to study a subject I knew nothing about. People will often ask me if I studied photography but I simply smile and say I did not. I taught myself this craft and I probably know about one percent of the whole knowledgable pie. That's why I love photography; I'll never cease learning. In school I learned to read better, write well, and explore deeper. I always dreamt of pursuing a higher education. More, I always wanted more. But then the reality of life set deep within me and I discovered that I could always pick up a book and start school, so I decided to leave all that behind and walk forward to create my own future.
My thoughts differ very much from the general consensus, and I accept that not everyone thinks like me. I always dreamt of attending university to learn. I have an immense love of knowledge, and, most importantly, of constantly learning. I always want to learn more. I did not apply to college with the intent of graduating with a degree in "insert your favorite major here" so that I could graduate and become a "insert really cool career here." I went to school to learn - simply that: learn. I am proud of the degrees I earned but, truthfully, I had no real desire to pursue a career with them. I guess I am just wired very differently from the population. An attribute that can always be a good thing just as much as it can be a fault.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that I have built this photography job, my career, and my brand on who I am. While we can have similar backgrounds, each one of us is still at some level very different from one another. I find that beautiful. The struggles I have experienced and the success that I wish for is what shapes the human being I am.
In every single word that I write, action I carry out, or dream I dream up, I pour my very soul into. So I wonder, how can someone try to be exactly who I am?
They can't. And finally accepting this common-sense reality is what has allowed me to finally let go of whatever turmoil I had. Through out the past few years I have encountered many instances where a peer has attempted to blatantly or inadvertently copy who I am. Some instances were cute and some were silly. But some, some really stole a little piece of my heart.
I spoke to some of my closest friends, to my family, and to my husband. I asked if I was merely being whiny and unnecessarily sensitive. Imitation is a form of flattery, right? Yes, I suppose it is. But some of the things I saw were flat out ripping me off. It bothered me, a lot. I spent the hours brainstorming, exploring my creativity and building on my brand. Then someone would come along and use my idea, my words, my thoughts. It completely irked me! Admittedly, it made me jealous. I was jealous of someone trying to be who I am and succeeding with it. The kicker, the action that ultimately really broke my thoughts, was a flat out case of plagiarism. While I attributed previous instances to giving someone the benefit of the doubt and simply looking past it, I couldn't not look past someone copying my emotions, words written directly for my clients, about the love of my life. I wrote about my husband and someone just came along to copy and paste my stuff.
"If I'm inspired to write this about my husband, does this mean they love my husband, too," I thought?
Clearly the answer is no. But this latest act of plagiarism really crossed the line. I was angry. I wanted to share with the world a screenshot of an impostor. I wanted to yell and say, I'm not making this up. But I didn't. And that was hard. Instead I let all the anger build up inside me. I let it simmer deep within me and decided that it was finally time to stand up for myself. So I waited for a few days and made a call. I confronted the impostor head on. I was nervous when I made the call. I wondered if I would yell. I wondered if I would cry. I wanted the person who'd answer to realize that their actions were wrong. They were hurtful.
Hurtful. That's when I realized the pain behind it all. I was hurt. I was hurt that someone could so easily take my thoughts, my mind, my heart, and be me with their art. So all I wanted was an apology. I prayed that I would at least get an apology. If the person was arrogant about the issue, I'd vow to be really mad. But if they apologized, it would be a thousand times better. I prepared with rebuttals and re-analyzed my arguments. I was sure that I had the proof, the evidence, to support a rational thought.
Then she said she was sorry.
Peace. I finally had, actually I have, peace.
I decided that the person on the other end of the line simply did not know better. For whatever reason, she just did not. I choose to believe that because it maintains my faith in humanity. Our conversation ended with a simple, "I'm sorry." And for more, I simply could not ask. If you, fellow colleague, ever come across this post, I have forgiven your actions. Know that you cannot be me, why would you want to? You are an autonomous individual, embrace that. Find yourself and make that the focus of your life. You will find success, I know you will. Just be you, and let me be who I am.
All that was necessary was communication. And my closest family and friends had said that, month after month. But I didn't want to listen. I wanted to play the victim and rhetorically keep asking why. I just needed to stand up for myself and confront the issue head on. I am so glad I finally did that. I feel much better now and I no longer feel angry. I was jealous of someone being better at being me. Right? Yes, I believe I was. But I have forgiven. I will look forward and not look at the past.
Believe in yourself. If you don't, no one can.