I am a writer.
That may not seem like an earth shaking statement to you, but for me it’s huge. In fact, it has taken me so long to say that out loud, let alone write it down for the whole world to see, that I honestly can’t believe I just put it out there.
I’ve never considered myself to be a writer before, because I have always held writers in such high esteem. To me they are amazingly talented people with incredible imaginations, who can use words in a way that motivate, entertain and inspire those that read them. Where the hell do I get off giving myself that title and putting myself in the same company as people like that?
Well, it’s simple, I write. I am writing right now and when I’m done people will read it (maybe one or two at least). Some folks have even told me they like some of the stuff I’ve written and I’ve even been asked to write some things for others. But most of all, and this is the important part… I enjoy doing it, so, ipso facto:
I am a writer.
Now, does that mean I’m a great writer? Should I be compared to the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Elizabeth Gilbert or Dr. Suess? Probably not, but who cares, I am a writer by virtue of the fact that I am enjoying what I’m doing. Exactly how good of a writer I am is up to the reader, and more importantly, myself. And since I am published (It’s my own blog but it still counts) and I have readers (two or three, but still, it counts), from now on, when I meet someone at a social event and they ask me what I do, I’m well within my rights to tell them:
“I am a writer.”
“Have I read any of your work?” They may ask.
“Not yet, but you will.”
So where am I going with this? I want to make a point about how hung up we can get about titles. The fear of being labeled by others, or our belief that we somehow don’t measure up to some self imagined standard. This I feel can sometimes prevent us from doing things that could change our lives, especially when it come to our health, wellness and overall happiness.
This occurred to me when I was talking with some folks at work about a 5K road race I had participated in recently.
“I always wanted to try and do a 5K,” one of them said
“Why don’t you?” I asked
“I’m not a runner.” She said
And there you have it. I’m not a “runner”. Her vision of a “runner” is a thin, spandex clad athlete, decked out in the latest gear, running a brisk six minute mile without breaking a sweat. Since she felt that she couldn’t live up to that standard, or she felt that others would see her as being foolish for participating in an event like that, she decided she was not a runner. Because of this, she is missing out on something she may actually enjoy and in the end could really be good for her. But because she has it in her head that she isn’t a runner, she’s afraid to try, and probably won’t (unless she reads this blog and I can change her mind).
The truth is that all sorts of people run 5K road races. They are men, women, young, old, thin, not so thin, fast, slow, and on and on. They don’t all run either, some walk, some run a little then walk for a bit, some even push their kids in strollers. For Pete’s sake, I’m a runner and I’ve never finished a 5K in under 35 minutes. But that’s okay because we don’t do it to qualify for the Olympics, we do it because we enjoy it and it’s good for us… end of story.
And by the way, if you participate in a 5K, guess what… you are a runner.
How about you? Have you ever not done something because you didn’t think you were an athlete?
or an entrepreneur ?
or a singer?
or a writer?
Well stop it.
Focus on the verb and to hell with the noun. Do your thing and enjoy yourself, without worrying about the opinions of others or your own foolish misconceptions and unreasonable standards. If you enjoy golf, you are a golfer. If you write poetry, you are a poet. If you work out or play any sport, you are an athlete. Don’t let it freak you out or don’t hide from it. Embrace it. Enjoy it and announce it proudly. Own it!
Maybe I’m writing this more for myself than for anyone else. I’ve had a tough time in the past telling people that I’m writing or that I’m a runner or a CrossFitter (I’m not sure that last one is really a word, but I’m going to use it anyway). Lets face it, I don’t really look like any one of those and I was concerned no one would believe me. But I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve noticed it more and more lately, in conversations and some things I’ve observed, especially for folks around my age. We get to our fifties and we lock in to our preconceived ideas of what we are and forget that we still have the ability to change and grow. It’s like we think it’s too late in the game to try new stuff, or because the years have gotten behind us, people will think we’re being foolish. I mean, do you think my kids are impressed that their father is trying to become an internet sensation?
Hell yeah, and that ‘s the best part: when you put it out there, you will be surprised at the support you’ll get. The people who really care about you will be excited to see you do something you enjoy, and may want to even join you! So if this does apply to you, let me help get you started:
I am a writer
And an Artist, athlete and philosopher, as much as I am a husband, father, grandfather and soldier. And I’m just getting started. After all, I’ve only been alive for 51 years, who knows what else I might become?
Now, my question is:
What are you?