July 31, 2023

Are your identities "real?"

Are you a "real" writer? A "real" artist? A "real" speaker?πŸ€”

I've published a nonfiction book, a microfiction story, and I write practically every day, as well as competing in writing challenges. I even wrote a children's book that I've never published.

Why does it feel weird to call myself a writer?

Do you have the same barrier?🧱

We watched the movie "A Little White Lie," and this bit of dialogue hurt:

"Teresa: I'm excited for the students to meet, like, a real writer.

Shriver: Well, aren't there plenty of real writers here? T., Simone?

Teresa: It's like the only place you can find their books is in the college bookstore in the local author section."


You can't find my book in brick and mortar bookstores. It's on Amazon and some other online sites, and I have a couple boxes in my office for events and clients. But it's not a best seller or known by more than probably a thousand people.

Even though I write every day, how many people see it? Not many, in the grand scheme of things.

So can I call myself a writer? If I'm not famous? If I don't make a living at it?

Well, yes. Yes I can.

Because I decide what my identities are. I'm a "real" writer.πŸ“

An electrician has to go through training and then an apprenticeship, gain thousands of hours of experience, then take an exam and get an certificate before they can even apply for a license.

Of course, writing, speaking and making art aren't as dangerous as electrical work, and I would like to know an electrician won't kill me or himself working in my house.⚡πŸ”Œ

But if there isn't some external "proof" of your identities, how can you know what to call yourself?

My husband paints; his art is all over our house. Has he sold any? No. Does he have formal training? No. Is he an artist? He hesitates to own that identity, but yes, he is.

I used to market my programs and coaching to "speakers," but I realized that so many of the business presenters I work with—who speak as part of their jobs or as a way to gain visibility and credibility—don't identify as "real" speakers.

So they didn't see themselves in my marketing!πŸ’‘

Now I call them something they can identify with: "business presenters" or "people who speak for their organization." That one's a little awkward. 🀷🏻

How about you? Are you uncomfortable identifying yourself a certain way because you don't feel "real?"

How would it feel to say "I'm a speaker," "I'm a writer," "I'm an artist," "I'm an athlete," or "Insert yours here?"πŸŽ‰

P.S. Also, transgender and nonbinary people have real identities, whether you believe in them or not.

πŸ‘‡πŸΌShare your thoughts below! 

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