The Power of Authenticity: Why Being True to Yourself is More Valuable Than Originality

Rajesh Soundararajan on LinkedIn –

In a world that often values creativity and innovation, the idea of originality can feel like a requirement for success.

However, I view that true originality is a myth and that the only thing that truly matters is authenticity? That by embracing the things that speak directly to our soul and being true to ourselves, we can create something truly unique and valuable.

Authentic vs Original

The concept that nothing is truly original has been echoed by artists, musicians, and filmmakers for decades. Jean-Luc Godard, the French New Wave filmmaker, famously said, “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.” This sentiment is at the core of the myth of originality and highlights the importance of authenticity in our creative endeavors.

From films and music to books, paintings, and photographs, the world is full of inspiration. We are often inspired by a cloud pattern or a night sky and paint the same. That is original. We are often inspired by a frame in a movie and recreate the same in our settings in a photograph. Very often as writers we are often inspired by great writers and phrases from a Tolstoy to Tagore to Thirukurral. Some stanzas from a Rumi or Marukami are so captivating one ends up writing pages and pages based on a few lines. So where does originality begin and where does it end.

I guess it’s not enough to just consume these pieces; we must also let them inform our creative process. Whether we’re writers, painters, or musicians, the pieces that resonate with us can serve as the foundation for our own work. The Universe is designed that way.

But what about the fear of being accused of plagiarism or theft? Yes, that line between inspiration and theft can be thin, but the key is to not be afraid to celebrate our influences. By acknowledging the sources of our inspiration and paying homage to the things that have shaped our creative journey, we’re not only being honest about our creative process but also honoring the artists and creators who have come before us.

But then it is not always practical or appropriate to add a ‘bibliography’ in a creative process. Let’s take the example of Albert Brennaman from the movie “Hitch.” Albert is trying to win the heart of a celebrity, Allegra Cole, but is struggling to come up with original ways to impress her. However, Hitch Hitchens, the professional “date doctor” played by Will Smith, coaches Albert to be true to himself and forget about trying to impress Allegra with grand gestures. Hitch encourages Albert to take Allegra to a place that holds special meaning to him, to share his passions and interests with her, and to simply let the connection between them grow organically. This scene highlights the importance of authenticity in relationships and the idea that being true to oneself is what truly matters. Now imagine, at every step, Albert tells Allegra ‘as suggested by Hitch, my date doctor’! It just destroys the creative process. So it is never going to be black or white.

For me, the myth of originality suggests that authenticity is what truly matters. By embracing the things that speak directly to our soul, being true to ourselves, and celebrating our influences, we can create something that is truly unique and authentic. So, the next time you feel stuck or uninspired, remember that the world is full of inspiration, and all you have to do is reach out and take it to a place that is truly your own.