A couple of weeks ago, I released my Healing by Example sweatshirts. I made them to be a wearable reminder for us all to keep doing the work and being a leader in our lives. To my surprise, someone decided they loved my design and phrase so much that they would make their own to sell. Same font. Same layout. I was shocked and appalled by the audacity. Stealing someone’s work is never OK, but I felt especially slighted because a white woman stole from me during Black History month of all months, lol. I say this lightly now, but that really bothered me initially. That feeling is layered and I will not be unpacking it here today. Nevertheless, I know this happens, unfortunately. It isn't the first time, and it won't be the last.
I normally do not address things like this anymore. It's an energy drain. It's been happening for years and will continue to happen to me and others. If needed, I send stuff like this to my attorney and keep it moving. But I chose to DM the therapist that made the bootleg version of my crewneck—(no, I did not hear back, which is okay)—and ask why? Something that surfaced for me during this experience is how blessed I am to be rooted in the truth and alignment of my life. So many people are not. And because of that, they steal, perform, and pretend in hopes of finding their way.
While I am not excusing her behavior for making copycat merch, I have empathy for her.
Not living in alignment is challenging and will make folks do some questionable things, big and small.
I can only imagine what is at the root of this for her. I don't think I would've come to this conclusion five years ago. But today, where I am in my healing is here: Get curious about what I can and cannot change.
That is how I am healing by example—through curiosity and compassion—even when it’s really damn hard.
We cannot stop people from hurting us.
We cannot stop people from stealing from us.
We cannot stop people from being who they are.
It is what it is—even if it's frustrating. Imitation is not a form of flattery to me, but I know "imitation" and even blatant thievery will happen. And still, that can't and won't stop me from showing up. I know who I am and take pride in what I create. If I let folks whose actions are ill-intentioned distract me from my work and creativity, I will find myself stuck, misaligned, and unfulfilled.
I'm sharing this because I know someone is reading this saying, “See, that's why I don't share my work, my art, my songs, my gift.” Don't think that way. Your authenticity and gifts are a blessing to this world. Do not shrink yourself out of fear of deceit happening to you. It might—yes—but no one can take your truth or craft from you. Do not let anyone sway you from sharing what you need or want to be shared.
I know it's daunting but when you're a leader and truth teller, there's no amount of imitation that can replace your authenticity.
No matter what, keep healing by example.
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Alex, I admire your attitude and am so sorry this happened to you. I cannot comprehend or understand the mindset of someone who does this!! Her sweatshirts should read, STEALING BY EXAMPLE!
Bless you, heal her is my prayer along with give me your compassionate heart.
I wish that I could articulate how deeply I needed this sentiment.
I had been blindsided by a friend whom portrayed me in a light that didn’t align with who I am & even she said she said it out of insecurities & envy.
Trying to find compassion the last week has been daunting. From listening to a grief meditation series to affirmations reminding me who I am, it’s been hard not to lean into the adjectives she used to describe me.
However, after reading this, it reminded me how wholesome compassion is & can be.