I’ll go on record saying that I am a fan of the show South Park. For all of its over-the-top crudeness, it’s some of the best satire on television, delving in to current events and human hypocrisy unlike any other program out there.
One of the characters, Butters, is a loveable but gullible little boy who is often the but of the jokes and antics of the four main characters (if you watch the show, however, you’ll see that those antics often blow up in their faces, and Butters comes out on top). When he becomes fed up with being picked on, however, he transforms (by way of a trip to his closet to don a tinfoil costume) into his “evil” alter-ego, Professor Chaos. Along with his sometimes-sidekick, Major Disarray, Professor Chaos seeks to create havoc and destruction on his town or those around him to punish them for making him feel so excluded.
This attitude is in full-force in the episode “Simpsons Already Did It,” where Butters/Professor Chaos brainstorms idea after chaotic idea to inflict upon his down but is shot down at every turn by General Disarray who – after every idea is mentioned – loudly and emphatically proclaims “Simpson’s did it!”
Butters ends up having a nervous breakdown, fearfully seeing Simpsons-drawn characters everywhere until it’s brought to his attention that, yes, Simpson’s have already done it. In fact, they’ve already done most everything (and some of the things that they’ve done have been kn0ck-offs of other television shows). So, Butters/Professor Chaos, stop worrying about it. Get on with your life and stop trying to be so original. He recovers, happy and ready to indulge in his own brand of havoc once more.
In your career you can feel paralyzed in many way, one of them being a lack of appreciative originality. Like Butters, know that there were plenty who came before you that had similar ideas, fields of study, skills, approaches, beliefs, or attitudes to yours. It’s okay, and they should not be an excuse to paralyze you in your pursuit of career fulfillment. And those who have come before you had their role-models and predecessors who influenced them. Don’t use it as an excuse to keep from putting work – your work…the work only you can do – out in to the world.
We all – in one way or another – stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before us.