Hi! I’m Nadia. I’m a writer. Blog posts, short stories, personal essays, unfinished novels – you name it, I’m probably writing it. Because that’s what I do. I write.
Those aren’t words that you’ll hear me say often. If you do hear me identify this way, you can rest assured that I’m cringing ever so slightly inside, hoping my affirmation won’t invite questions that will inevitably reveal me for the fraud that I am.
Or, at least, that I think that I am. Because my hesitance to refer to myself in terms of what I am, and what I love to do, all comes back to my self-doubt and lack of confidence in my abilities.
Instead, when social situations demand that I answer that dreaded “What do you do?” enquiry, I usually reply with my job title. My boring, run-of-the-mill job title, which offers no real insight into what I like, what my passions are, or who I am. If anything, my timid, self-deprecating way of saying what I do for work gives an impression that I’m unhappily plodding along in a role which has no link to my creative interests. Who wants to carry on with a conversation that starts like that?
Like a lot of other Millenials who graduated with Arts degrees post-recession, I am not yet working in a job which relates in any way to my craft. That’s not to say I’m not writing; on the contrary, I spend the majority of my free time getting words and ideas jotted down. It’s not uncommon for someone of my age to be employed outside of their field of interest. As we introduced ourselves to each other, most of the other girls at the writing class I’ve been attending defined their 9 to 5s in the same dreary, disinterested tones as I had. Even though we’d voluntarily come together, united by a shared passion for writing, we fell into the routine of defining ourselves first and foremost by the financially quantifiable roles we play in society.
I wonder why this is such an easier route to take when getting to know someone, even though I’d much rather hear about their creative inspirations, style influences and greatest artistic challenges than the stupid thing their boss said yesterday. Would it not be more fun and more interesting to change our approach to defining ourselves?
During that first class, the embarrassment we feel about calling ourselves writers came up as a big creative barrier. We were encouraged to start getting used to defining ourselves in this manner, because if we don’t believe that we’re writers, then who else will? I’m not going to pretend that self-defining as a “creative” doesn’t feel ever so slightly pretentious, but I’d rather do that than continue to pin so much of my personality on my day job.
So, whether you’re a writer, musician, painter, YouTuber, coder, creative all-rounder, or other – and whether you are one of these things by hobby or trade – I urge you to start defining yourself in these terms, rather than by your job description. Eventually, you might also be able to change the way you get to know people, too; we can learn so much more about each other by asking after inspirations, passions and challenges, than we can with a simple, “What do you do?”