Are you getting stuck on labels?

Updated: Feb 12

How is your current view of your identity holding you back from where you seek to go?


I’ve been feeling awkward recently. I wonder if you can relate?


Even if it’s in a completely different area of your life than what I’m reflecting on here, I'm wondering how this lands with you.

Recently my husband called me out on something he heard me say.


A friend of his, who I was meeting for the first time, inquired about the book I am writing by saying, “Oh, I heard you are a writer?”


To which I responded, “No, no, no, no. I’m not a writer. I am writing a book and I am about to head off for two-days of intensive writing, but I’m not a writer.”


I probably would have continued to stumble on awkwardly, but my husband interjected, “Hey. Stop right there. You are a writer. Own it!”


Part of me really wanted to push him back right then and there with “Hmmm… technically it’s that I aspire to be a writer. I am writing my first novel, but not I am a writer!” But instead of saying that, I decided to stay quiet in the moment and hear what he was saying. To let his words sink in. My husband is a cheerleader, and I really appreciate that about him – in our relationship and how he shows up for many other people in that way too.


And he had a point. I have invested a lot of energy, effort and time into this book. It’s brought out a different side of me. It has led to bold decisions, like flying to the jungles of Indonesia to ‘go off the grid’ which has resulted in my life, and the life of my family, to move in a very new direction. I should honor that journey. Doing so would also honor the people around me that have been so supportive.


But it still felt awkward.


Is it imposter syndrome?


No.


I don’t feel like a fraud… I love the book I’m writing, and I can’t wait to share it with you!


I feel more like a work in progress – like I’m in the process of molting, shedding skin and creating the conditions to thrive with fresh new vibrancy.


I wrote every single day in 2021. Doing that showed me that I do my best work in intensive bursts rather than daily blocks, so I’ve since let that daily practice go and adopted new ones. It’s an ongoing, iterative process of continuous learning and growth. I am honing my craft, building my skills.




I’m afraid that by saying I’m a writer, I’m doing a disservice to professional writers out there. While I have written a few things over the years, writing has not been my occupation. I haven’t published a book or established myself as a writer. I haven’t received awards or accolades. So, wouldn’t calling myself a writer dishonor the industry and professional writers’ livelihoods? Because I wouldn’t want to do that. One of the many, many things I’ve gained from this journey of writing my first novel is a deeper respect for writers.


Is it semantics?


Maybe.


I looked up ‘writer’ in the Oxford Languages dictionary. They define it as:

“-a person who has written a particular text.

-a person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation.”


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ’writer’ as “one that writes”


Ok! How about I take on the Merriam-Webster definition! Because what I know for sure is that continuing to say “no, no, no, no I’m not a writer,” no matter how I look at it, is not a very empowering statement. Instead of getting caught up and being ‘right’ about all the things that I am not, how about I honor the path I am on and step, albeit awkwardly, into who I aspire to become.


For a fresh perspective, I tried looking at another aspect of my identity that seemed easier.


Running.


I am a runner.

This is very easy for me to declare. Why?


Is it because I’ve been consistently practicing it for most of my life?

Is it because I’m experienced and skilled at it?

Is it because I’ve been awarded accolades for my achievements?


The fact is, I love running. When I’m lacing up my shoes and gearing up to go, it is the joy of running and what it brings me in my life that propels me to go for it.

I still call myself a runner even I haven’t competed in a race in a few years.


Do I think I’m doing a disservice to professional runners by calling myself one? No.

If I heard someone else classify themselves as a runner, would I judge them on their skill level? No.


I’d assume they had a consistent practice. A runner is someone who runs. And the fact is, it’s easy for me to go and run when I’m a runner. Because that’s what runners do…


As Seth Godin writes in “The Practice”, “Identity fuels action, and action creates habits, and habits are part of a practice, and a practice is the single best way to get to where you seek to go.”

He goes on to say, “Before you are a “bestselling author,” you’re an author, and authors write”.

So, here I go…


I’m Em.

I write.

I aspire to be a writer.

I am a writer.

I am a writer.

I am a writer.

I am a writer.

I am a writer.


-Deep breath in and out-


I look forward to hear what this stirs up in you.

There are enough other barriers out there, let's not let it be our own that hold us back from where we seek to go!


-Em.

112 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All