Ah, those cool words everyone seems to magically start using simultaneously. New words do pop up all the time. Sometimes they stay in the group where they originated, like a musical subculture; but then others manage to find their way into the “gen pop” – you know… the general population. So how is your vocabulary?

How badly do you want to cower and cringe when someone pops into your DMs with: “Tonight’s party’s gonna be lit, dude. Make sure you beat your face before the kiki. YOLO.” Speaking of which, ever try to swipe a crumb off your phone and accidentally “like” 150 pictures of a total stranger?

What’s that? You don’t use catchy words that everyone seems to? You may be more of a chameleon than you think. We all unconsciously imitate the people in our lives whether we know it or not. Ever find yourself mimicking your friend’s phrases or even mannerisms? When was the last time you said: “At the end of the day…” or “having said that…” or “I need to learn how to ‘navigate’ that issue.” Since when are we all directing the course and route of a ship, by the way?

Have you even picked up a bit of his intonation or accent? If you don’t notice it, you can bet that he does. Speaking of which, why do foreign accents disappear when they start singing? Oh, no. She just stole your fashion sense. He just ripped off your ideas and your best jokes. She insisted on using your signature recipe. Sheesh. Truthfully, you might feel kind of intruded upon and even uncomfortable. It’s as though she just hijacked your uniqueness. Don’t worry. You can’t Photoshop personality. Then again, perhaps you feel closer and more of a connection when your friends imitate you or use similar gestures and phrases.

Think you’re immune? Try not yawning after your friend just did. See? It’s contagious. You must remember how everyone imitated the mannerisms, postures, and even facial expressions of the popular kids in high school so they too could be applauded, adored, and idolized.

Admit it. You get this uncontrollable urge to laugh when you hear other people laughing. And what better way to bond with your friends? Think about the last time you went to a parade or concert. The synchronicity of that crowd all singing or dancing together: Did it not make you feel such a deep sense of belonging, to even complete strangers there? We humans feel an affinity and accord when we commune and connect with others. No escaping that.

If you observe best friends or couples, they can be so attuned to one another that they literally mirror each other at times. Repeating back to your friend what she just said can show her that you understood what she was trying to express. Ever have a waiter repeat your order to you instead of just saying: “Thanks, I got it.” Wow, he must really be paying attention. Does it make you feel different?

So, how do you “mirror”? My mirror and my camera have two completely different ideas of what I look like. Lol. But seriously, try to notice when you copy his posture or start using his favorite words. Did you just take a bite of your food right after she did? Your goal is not to become the world’s greatest copycat. No, you are not trying to impersonate or even mimic him. You simply wish to show more appreciation and affinity towards your loved ones or people in general. Being on that same wavelength can build rapport, compassion, and concern.

Okay, you worked so hard on that pun, and she just stole it with your hashtag. Hmmm. Not feeling too close right now. So how do you know if someone crossed that invisible line of truly copying your personal style? If it is painfully obvious, you may feel on the receiving end of identity theft. Some of us just want to highlight our own unique style or taste.

For a truly insecure person, copying you may be like borrowing the confidence and self-esteem that they imagine you have – for a while. But maybe you would rather she just compliment or admire you rather than flat out highjack your ideas or ways. Firstly, do not take it personally. After all, the entire fashion industry relies on it. But if you truly do not feel flattered by the imitation and even sense some insidious envy underneath, then please gently open up a conversation with her and point out your observations. If he becomes very defensive or flat out denies it, you may choose to keep some of your original ideas to yourself in the future. That’s okay, too.

It was once said: Don’t worry about people copying you. Worry when they stop. Then again, you cannot be friends with someone who wants your life. It’s okay to separate from them.

When all else fails, sweet friends, remember the immortal words of Dr. Seuss: “Today you are You. That is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”


Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.

 

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