Watching Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street” I couldn’t help but feel that every now and again I seem to be recognizing someone else in some of his mannerisms and gestures. Then, in a flash it hit me, Robert De Niro! It got me thinking about this desire in us to want to imitate others.
Can this desire become so strong that it eventually moves us further and further away from our own expression and originality? I’m sure it can, but strangely enough it’s also essential to our growth and survival. Lev Vygotsky, a Cultural-historical psychologist said, “Through others we become ourselves.” I believe this. What I see in others certainly helps me discover more of myself.
Perhaps then we are all called to live with a question – what am I imitating and to what extent is this imitation limiting me or helping me in becoming more myself? It’s a tough question, but to ignore it presents us with the prospect of our lives ultimately becoming superficial and cheap imitations.
It may have sounded rather selfish, but there’s a lot of truth in the old Sinatra song, “I Did It My Way.”