I’ve decided to give myself permission to call myself these things. For the better part of the last 15 or 20 years, I guess I’ve felt like some kind of perpetual journeyman or trainee that could never really use these titles and own them. But I’m done waiting around for people to bestow these titles upon me, as if there is some test I could take wherein someone would give me a passing grade, crown me, or give me a sash or something.
I am a writer. In truth, I’ve always been a writer. I kept diaries when I was young, and wrote poetry in college like all properly angsty, tortured youth. When I got sick towards the end of college, I had to drop my dance minor and pretty much completely give up acting. After getting past the initial depression about not being able to act again, I decided to make a new year’s resolution (see, they work!) that I write SOMETHING that would be published SOMEWHERE in the new year. I got two pieces published that year, got paid for them and everything. And I was off. But even though I’ve been working as a writer in some fashion as my “day job” since about 2002, I’ve always been kind of afraid to call myself a writer. Like I haven’t earned it yet. Like I hadn’t done “enough” writing yet, or been published “enough” places.
I realized when I sent a couple of queries for writing work over the last couple of weeks and, by way of explaining who I am, was able to link to or describe several years’ worth of published writing (not all of it available online, but at least I have the paper copies), that I’m ACTUALLY A WRITER. I may not be the world’s best proofreader, and I miss a lot of shit in editing that I shouldn’t, but yeah, I’m a writer. And one query has landed some new, tentative work that I’m very excited about. This is another rung up on the ladder, and I have my sights set on the one above that, as well. C’mere, bitch.
I am an actor. I’ve always been an actor, even when the only thing I could do was set myself apart from the chorus in some shitty, small-town Christmas musical when I was a little kid so that I got to go to center stage and sing a line by myself, AND stage-slap a boy in the face who tried to kiss me under the mistletoe. There was nothing else for a very long time, as there were no opportunities. Outside of the one line in the musical, I was never in a play until my senior year of high school. My school didn’t have much of a theater “program” at all. There was one drama class, and one play a year, and you had to be a senior to take advantage of either/both. I got the female lead in the senior play (though it was an ensemble cast), got an award for my performance on class honors day, and got a tiny scholarship stipend to help fund my first year of college, wherein I unquestionably majored in theater, pushing all my chips in. While the time and roles have dwindled since I had a baby five years ago – no point in auditioning for things you can’t do, I’ve kept my hand in and fairly regularly get to get on stage in some format and use this craft. Amazingly, some people actually think I’m not half bad at it sometimes, and that’s extremely gratifying. Last night was one of those nights – a rehearsal with a big group of people, all crazy-creatives like me. Some old friends, some new, and the palpable excitement at the onset of a project. This makes my blood pump happy through the veins.
I am an athlete. I have been a runner since middle school, though sporadically in my thirties due to a lot of injuries and illness. I swam and dove all through middle school and into high school on summer swim and diving teams. I’ve been working out in some fashion – dance, weight lifting, yoga, running, biking, almost my entire life. It’s a part of who I am and I feel like garbage if I skip it for too long. This is something you either have (or build into yourself), or you don’t. The fact of the matter is, I can never truly connect with someone who does not have this within themselves also. They cannot really understand who I am if they don’t get that I need to be moving a lot of the time when I am not sitting in front of a computer. I’ve learned that lesson, more than once. It’s an intrinsic value that’s important to me and my feeling of well being. And whatever parts of me are broken, whatever nerve endings damaged and forever bothersome/itchy/painful, whatever misalignment or injury I battle, I will keep moving as long as I can and as much as I can. I am an athlete. I give myself permission to call myself that now.
This is who I am.