What you’re about to read is raw, unedited and slightly crazy, as it was written in a blaze of passion at 1 o’clock in the morning after 6-hours of saving the land of Thedas from dark spawn.
Have you ever proclaimed yourself to be something and not been taken seriously? I have. Or maybe you’ve claimed a title and haven’t been as confident in your abilities as others are of you?
Story of my life.
When I was nine, I proclaimed myself leader of the recess crew, and while the power to decide which games we played lasted for quite a stint, it all went down in flames when the other girls found their voices and chose to overthrow me as the acting dictator.
In high school, I labeled myself as a “horse lover.” I had taken years of riding lessons and owned two horses, but every time I was around other horse people, I felt like I knew nothing and wasn’t as deep into the craft as they were. My label seemed to peel off and fall in the mud.
In college, I gritted my teeth and decided I’d be a journalist. I wrote for the newspaper, edited for the newspaper and even went on to become the Executive Editor! And yet, I felt like a fraud a good portion of the time. While others may have been confident of my skills, I questioned myself every day. The doubt caused me to back down from my goal of owning the New York Times. My journalist endeavors died when I graduated.
For years I wandered the earth without a label. And by label, I mean a calling I could focus on. A talent I could develop. I couldn’t figure out who I wanted to be. Sure, I’ve always known who I am deep down; that’s not the problem. I’m a beloved child of God, but I needed something that defined me, you know?
In 2012, I decided to fully embrace a label I’d been flip-flopping around my whole life: WRITER. I put blinders on to negative thoughts (mostly my own), and worked hard on honing my skills and growing in my craft.
Now I write. And I tell people I write. And I show people what I write. Then I write some more.
Just the other day, I was approached by someone who said, “Hey! You’re a writer. I need help.” Just like that, I knew my self-made label was glued to my forehead. It was a small victory, won after MANY years of hard work, determination and patience. He didn’t know I could write any better than he could. But since he knew I’m a self-proclaimed writer, he came to me when he needed a writer. It’s that simple.
Want to give yourself a label? Start small.
Balance being humble and flaunting your skills. Build a tribe who supports you. Grow. Expand. Become who you say you are, and don’t let anything stop you.
Labels can always be removed as quickly as they can be given. They can peel off and fade away with time, and they can also be etched on your tombstone for eternity.
Example: One fine spring day I woke up, drove myself to my writing job and got fired. Yes, fired. On that fine spring day, I realized that I either was a writer because my job title said so, or I was a writer because I said so. It was a pivotal moment. I opted for the latter.
So I went home and started a blog. I researched and studied what other writers had to say. I listened to seminars. Dusted off my old writing textbooks. Scrounged around for ideas on what I could write about. I sat staring at a blank piece of paper and battled writer’s block (a battle which I’ve lost many times). I felt as if I had plenty to say but no focused place to start. And who would listen to me?
Then I found Jeff Goins. He’s a pretty great writer, and his blog posts always challenged and inspired me to simply declare myself a writer and, well, write.
So I did. I declared it. I wrote, even when I thought what I was writing was crap. I tried writing for others. I got paid to write. I got paid very little to write. I wrote for free. I wrote for food. I wrote about dogs. I wrote about video games. I wrote about things I like, love and hate. And I kept writing. I kept working on finding a niche. I revamped my blog and wrote about my re-vampings. I read other blogs for ideas, then penned my own. I owned what I wrote and edited myself. Finally I realized I couldn’t write for others and truly be successful. I had to write for myself.
And now, here I am, a writer who barely gets a couple hundred hits to her blog a day.
But hey, that’s better than nothing! That’s better than the 3-per-day I used to get! My silver lining is that I kept writing and one day, bam! One of my posts meant something to someone else… and not just someone else, but an entire community of people. And just like that, I was noticed. My label was true, if only for a moment. I’d finally gotten to a place where I wasn’t expecting recognition anymore, and that’s the best part. Now, it’s just icing on an already deliciously appetizing cupcake.
If you give yourself a label and can’t seem to get it to stick, keep trying. If you’re recognized by others as something and want it to change, change it. Work at it. Pursue it. Fight it. End it.
In the end, you are whoever you say you are. You only have one life to live, so make it count. Don’t waste the gifts God’s given you or stop chasing your dreams.