For as long as I can remember, I have loved to write. Even as a very small girl, I loved nothing more than receiving a brand new notebook and pen so that I could spend my days scribbling. My mom used to laugh because most little girls wanted barbies or other typical toys, but not me, I wanted one of those fancy pens that you got from nice offices or speciality stationary stores. Give me a pen that would run smoothly across the page and not clump ink … SWOOON!
Despite my early passion, my stories were not the most riveting back then, let’s just say I’ve come a long way. They were all the same, usually starring a young princess named Christine (coincidence?) with SOFT, FLOWING red hair, and TANNED skin.
Now, if you know me personally, you know how comical that is. There is nothing soft about my hair, I could legitimately fashion it into a spear and stab someone if needed. My mother lovingly described it as having the texture of ‘steel wool’, it is not exactly nice to snuggle with nor does it ‘flow’ anywhere. And the closest I have ever gotten to a tan was when … well, never. I’ve never even come close. But hey, I was only 7. And a girl can dream, can’t she?
My stories always had a dad (the king), a sibling (although I was Dad’s favorite), and we lived in a marvelous palace … talk about using creativity to work through your abandonment and ‘only child’ issues.
Over the years my writing thankfully transitioned beyond ‘The Chronicles of Princess Christine’ to include a little more variety, and then to the dark, melancholic prose that only a teenage girl can pull off. No matter the age or stage of life, I was writing. I even remember my friends asking me to help them in English class whenever they felt stumped or overwhelmed. It is fair to mention that I was not the best student (read: barely scraped by), so to be the kid who others were coming to for help was a real source of pride for me.
There is no doubt about it, the written word has always been ‘my jam’.
Now the odd thing is, it wasn’t until just last year, when I became a published author, that I actually considered myself ‘a writer’. Even though I had been writing since I was old enough to hold a pen, loved it with my entire being, and was pretty good at it, I always thought of it as ‘just’ a hobby. ‘Just’ something I enjoyed doing in my free time. I thought that to be ‘a writer’, you had to have gone to school for a degree, have a job for which you get paid for writing, or have been published.
I’ve been giving this some thought lately and I’ve got to say … what a crock of shit. Why do we do that? Why do we ‘just’ our passions? Why do we insist on downplaying our talents unless there is a degree or a paycheck associated with them?
I am no more a writer now than I was two years ago before I had been published.
I am a writer because I write. Bottom line.
Obviously there are limits and some things do require a level of training. I can’t go around calling myself a massage therapist just because I enjoy rubbing oil on people and soothing tired muscles, even if I am darn good at it. That would be reckless and quite frankly, a little bit weird.
What I am talking about is how we minimize our gifts and passions. About how we constantly determine the value of our talents on how much money or status it brings in.
Is it nice to make money doing something we love? Of course. Is it validating to have a piece of paper recognizing hard work, effort, and skill? Yes. But do those things determine our talent or worth? No.
So next time you are talking about your passion, drop the ‘just’ in front of it.
Wear the title with pride.
You don’t ‘just play around with paint’. You are a goddamned painter!
You don’t ‘just enjoy photography in your free time’. You are a mother freaking photographer!
And if your passion does require some training or education in order to wear the title or expand on your gift … do it!
Stop hiding. Stop downplaying. Stop devaluing yourself. And stop making excuses.
You are worth it!
Go get’em, tiger.
~Christine (mother freaking writer since birth)