We have all sorts of identifiers in our lives, things we know for sure. I am a woman, I am a wife, I am a coffee drinker. We do this to categorize ourselves, to find common ground with the people around us. What I’m curious about is, at what point can you give yourself a title? At what point does it get taken away? Just because I don’t technically teach in a high school anymore, does that mean I’m not a teacher? I still think of myself as a teacher and probably would even if I didn’t still work with kids. It’s this idea of categories and titles that is intriguing me as I dip my toe into two new ones.
So I started running again. I have avoided running for a long time because whenever I run my body and my subconscious take it as a sign that I want to lose weight. If I want to lose weight that must mean I’m trying to punish myself. I have never enjoyed running but I saw it as a means to an end. I would push myself on the treadmill and finally would get down to a goal weight and be able to run an 8 minute mile, but the getting there was brutal. By the time I reached that goal I hated the treadmill and I hated the whole process.
I’ve been trying to change my relationship with running by avoiding the treadmill completely. I’ve been running in the park. I haven’t put any strict goals or deadlines or anything on this process, I’m just trying to do as well as I can. I’ve found, in the last few weeks, that when I just sit back and take my performance at face value, I’m actually doing okay. If I let my body lead me instead of my mind, I’m pretty good. I can run 5 miles, like I did this morning. And sometimes, I can just run 2, because I want to do something active. I’m sore and tired, but because this is all coming from a place of love and trust instead of punishment, I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere. Does this mean I can call myself a runner? I’m not sure yet, but I’m on my way.
Am I a writer? I write this blog, and I wrote a novel. I’m actually about to rewrite my novel to work out a whole boatload of kinks. I feel like a writer, even without ever seeing my words in print. I feel committed to this process and to my book. I want to see it out there. I am excited to continue, to rewrite and improve. Does that make me a writer?
Do other people give us out titles or do we give them to ourselves? I think that it’s our commitment, our dedication, and out passion that lead to our identifiers. Who is anyone to say that I’m not a runner because I’ve only been doing it for a few weeks? Or that I’m not a writer because I haven’t had anything published? I believe that I am both of those things and a ton more simply because I work hard for those titles. And as for the titles we try to distance ourselves from (fangirl, tv-addict, obsessive), they’re part of us too. My goal is to embrace all of those categories, the good and the less-good.