I heard someone years ago make an interesting distinction. She said that she ran, but was not a runner. It stuck with me once I heard it as a way I could differentiate doing something and without claiming that I was any good at it.
I ride bikes but I’m not a cyclist.
I plant and water things in my garden but am not a gardener.
I write but am not a writer.
Part of the reason that I don’t think of myself as a writer is that I’m an electrical engineer by education. The very last class I took before I got my degree was technical writing. I put it off until the very end because I thought it would be so easy and found out the hard way, with my degree on the line, that it was just as challenging.
But sometimes I have to update who I am. I was recently invited to be part of the talented group of writers that make up this Pointless Overthinking blog. Since I am by disposition a lot like a golden retriever – happy, goofy and energetic, my reaction was pretty much along those lines: ecstatic, a little teary and enthusiastic.
I don’t join groups very often these days. I work as a freelance technical consultant largely alone, I parent alone, and since my Budheo-Christian beliefs don’t align with any particular church, I even worship alone. So for me just applying to join a group is a big deal.
It was an even bigger deal for me to be selected because it came with the sentence, “We were looking for someone who likes to both tell stories and mix in a little philosophizing, and you perfectly fit that description.”
I think I need to update, for my own self-image and not as an act of hubris, that I might not only write but in fact might actually be, a writer. Because making the distinction does not protect me from failure, it only prevents me from stepping into the fullness of the effort. It’s like renting a role instead of owning it.
Marianne Williamson captured the essence of this so concisely, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” The problem with believing we are powerful is then we have to act on it.
How about you? Is there anything you need to update and claim?
[Side note: I can’t easily make this same distinction in English with parenting. I have children but am not a parent says something else entirely. Perhaps that is a bit of grace that reminds parents we are all in the same boat as we try our best to live up to the role of parent.]
This post is an expanded version of a post originally published on Wynne Leon’s personal blog.
Follow me on Instagram at @wynneleon
(featured photo from Pexels)