I’ve decided I’m not very good with titles. I don’t mean blog post titles, although those are hard enough in their own right. No, I mean titles that we put on ourselves, or what we call ourselves.
When I was growing up, I was a swimmer. I had no problem calling myself that, but even though I practiced 2 hours a day, lifted weights and ran, traveled for meets on the weekends, and sacrificed a lot of lazy summer days in favor of training, I never thought of myself as an athlete. I didn’t swim for my school, so it wasn’t blatantly obvious that I was athletic. And plus, I thought of athletes as members of a team, people with good hand/eye coordination who wore their uniforms to school once a week. But I realize in retrospect that I was AN ATHLETE.
Recently the title of “writer” has been coming up for me. At our last church, we asked “get to know you” type questions at the beginning of our young adult Bible study every week. I remember one week the question was, “When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?” My answer was, “I always wanted to be a writer, but now I don’t really think that’s where my life is going.” Our minister, who had probably read some blog posts of mine, said, “Laura, you ARE a writer.” But I brushed it off. Writers were people who woke up in the morning and slaved away at the keyboard, people who wanted to published. I was not a writer.
I’m reading Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. I love Anne Lamott and every word that comes out of her pen, but some lingering voice in the back of my head keeps telling me, “This book isn’t for you. This book is for writers. You’re not a writer.”
But recently, as I was sending an email to a local internet publication in response to their call for contributing writers, it hit me: I AM a writer. I may not hone my craft like some do. I may not agonize over words. I may not have any desire to be published. But because I write, I am a writer, just like because I swam, I was an athlete. It makes sense in my head; I don’t know why I have so much trouble embracing titles like that. But I’m trying this one out: I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer.
What are you? Do you struggle with titles?