When I was about ten years old I had a pair of brown leather shoes. They had wicker on the sides and in the pointed toed top and they were my favorite. I know, they sound horrible and looking back I cannot for the life of me understand why I even liked them, let alone love them, but I did. Taste had yet to kick in I guess.
Anyway, I really loved these shoes, but the trouble was, they were starting to get too small. I wasn’t ready to let them go so instead of alerting my mom I needed new shoes I curled up my toes instead. Pretending they fit fine, when really they didn’t.
It can be hard to let go of things even if it isn’t a good fit anymore.
I have been in a process of letting go and I resisted for fear of losing what I loved. Now I know it was never that. I didn’t lose people or places or even things, I only lost the patterns and behaviors that kept me small. The ways of being that confined me and were no longer a good fit to who I was becoming.
It was time for bigger shoes.
When asked what I do, I tell people I don’t work because of a stroke, but that I write a blog. That way I avoid the word “blogger” which I never liked the sound of, but I don’t like telling this story either. It feels as though I’m saying: “yes, I’m really limited but hey at least I found something to pass the time. No idle hands and whatnot”.
Not at all empowering. I feel small when I say that. I don’t feel bad I had a stroke and I own that story, but I have unwittingly let my health situation determine my identity.
Yes, I have my limitations, but I am not limited to them. Who I am encompasses so much more than just that. My physical limitations need neither define nor confine me. Time to let those old, worn, cramped shoes go.
Now for the fun part and shop around for new shoes. I already know the ones I want.
I want to be a writer.
I felt hesitant to call myself one as I defined a Writer (capital W) as someone who sells books or makes a living writing. Or is it? Weren’t my favorite writers “writers” even before they got published? Is earning money doing it, really part of that definition?
I looked it up and found various definitions of the word. Like this one from Wikipedia:
“A writer is a person who uses written words in various styles and techniques to communicate their ideas.”
I like that definition. I like it because this appears to include me! It fits!
Sold! I’m getting these. Leave the box, I’ll wear them home. After all it’s my decision.
Each of us get to live by our own definition of what it means to be us.
This got me thinking…
Since there is no such thing as just one pair of shoes…
I think I’ll go and try “artist” on for a size too. But this time I’m not turning to a textbook for a definition and adopt my own. An artist to me is anyone who loves to create things, making them beautiful according to their own definition of what that is. I am that.
Calling myself an artist demonstrates my commitment to the part of me that loves to create.
Writer/Artist has a nice ring to it. Like shoes you have no reasonable need for, but want anyway. Just trying them on feels decadent and delicious. It makes me feel a little nervous, but good nervous. Feels like I did when I was little and tried on the heels my aunt had given me to play with. Black and shiny with high heels, three sizes too big, making a fun click-y sound when I walked. Made me feel all fancy, grownup and tall.
Assuming I am not the only one who has been living in cramped shoes I wondered:
Why do we do that?
My guess is we’re afraid of being considered arrogant, presumptuous or big headed.
Is it though? Is it arrogant to call yourself a writer when you in fact, write? Is it presumptuous to call yourself an artist when you simply love to create things? It’s not like I am comparing myself to other writers and calling myself “better”. I don’t claim to be “van Gogh”. Besides, do we really want to let other people’s definitions confine us? Wouldn’t we rather create our own?
Me calling myself a writer/artist (or any other label I feel like adopting) has nothing to do with arrogance or grandiosity. Bigger shoes don’t make me big-headed, but big-hearted. It means I love myself enough to give myself room to be all that I am and all that I dream of becoming. Hoping to inspire others to do the same.
All definitions are a kind of box we put ourselves and others in and there is nothing wrong with that. We need them to communicate what we mean. But let’s not cram ourselves in boxes society would have us in and choose for ourselves instead. Let’s pick the ones we want, the ones that fit well. Or better yet, ones that leave some room to move around in, room to expand into.
No more playing small. Let’s dream of the biggest, most delicious definitions for ourselves and try them on. When you feel like: “Really? Can I?”, you’ve found a good one.
Unlike heels bigger definitions won’t ruin your posture. They help you stand tall.