Now that I'm in a profession that relies on the protection of the value of original creative work, I find myself thinking back to the incipient stages of my creative life. And boy, I might've plagiarized more than the average student, and I'm not proud of it.
In 8tb grade, I had a large research project, and dumb me thought that it would be impressive to create a report on the stock market, having given too much faith in my dad's (now I realize) bluffed knowledge about the topic. So I ended up primarily "referencing a single source," or paraphrasing an entire book. In another instance, I really enjoyed a scrapbooking piece, so I re-created the entire composition for an art project. Throughout elementary and middle school, I either used science projects straight from books or faked my data. Even in freshman year of college, I was lucky to have a professor sit down to teach me that "borrowing cool ideas" can be done, but with good paraphrasing and properly formatted citations. Wow, those years were rough.
Maybe creativity is too much to ask for from a young, inexperienced student whose preconceived notions of "good work" are masterpieces of art, literature, and complex systems. Maybe I copied from other ideas because I felt my thoughts were incomparable and insufficient to "others." Somewhere in my development, I missed the opportunity to build confidence in my work, failing to think critically to understand that the value of work is the process and uniqueness, not solely its technical competence. I am not proud of some of the judgements I made in the past, but they were certainly lessons to learn from.