How many of you have told yourselves this before? “I’m not a this,” or “I’m not a that.” It doesn’t matter what it was, but you filled in the blank with any number of things. Athlete, cook, drummer, marathoner, or whatever else you decided to talk yourself out of calling yourself. Even worse, how many of you have had someone tell you that you weren’t a [blank]? The trouble is that whatever filled that blank, has probably been with you a while. Perhaps it was something accidental from childhood that filled the first blank, and then you started filling the blank yourself with other things, out of habit.
I once lived in California and the weather was always beautiful. I took up running so I could be outside more often and I wasn’t terrible at it, by many standards. I could do a solid 3 miles in less than 25 minutes, and I even did a couple fun runs, but I still refused to call myself a runner. I created some impossible standard in my head that never allowed me to wear the title. I have even been singing professionally since I was 9 years old, but I refused to call myself a singer until I was in my 20s. For some reason, I had all these unreasonable targets for calling myself something. I had to make a living at it, not just get paid. I had to be a marathoner, and not just someone running in the park or on a treadmill a few times a week. The list got longer and the titles became fewer.
I used to do this all the time. In fact, I still do every now and then, but as part of my healing journey, I realized these blanks were not my story. I remember as a kid not being very athletic. I admit I was better at playing piano and singing, than running or catching a ball. I once tried to catch something and ended up with a black eye, after I watched it fall from the sky, into my face, in what felt like slow motion. My childhood friend said to me “you’re not very good at sports, are you?” I guess that stuck with me because my narrative became “I’m not an athlete.” I became so convinced that I was not an athlete that even when I did exhibition kickboxing in my 20’s, my response was, “I’m not athletic.” As a woman “old enough to know better,” I now realize that wasn’t my truth.
Most recently, I have struggled with this, in terms of my writing. I said to myself, “I’m not a writer if [blank]” or “I’m only a writer if [blank].” I was listening to one of Glennon Doyle’s “morning meetings,” recently and she talked about this very phenomena. In fact, she spoke of it specific to writing and it was nice to hear a best selling author struggle with the same inner monologue. I walked away from it repeating to myself, “I am a writer,” because it isn’t binary. There isn’t this law saying you can only call yourself a writer if you meet these 50 criteria. If you write, you are a writer. Even if that means your writing never sees the light of day.
So why do I share this with you, dear readers? I share it because we all have similar battles holding us back. Many of us have experienced the implication or outright declaration that we were not something because of some mysterious, and often ridiculous, reason. The great news is that YOU get to decide what you are and what you are not. These stories and these truths belong to you alone. It’s time to tell our own stories, in the first person. I am not a lion tamer. That is a fact. I am, in fact, a writer, singer, hiker, yogi, traveler, healer and adventurer, though. What are you?
Wishing love and peace to all beings and patience and kindness on your own healing journey.