Ownership? Yikes! For a long time, I was hesitant to take ownership of things that I desired for myself because it felt foolish. For example, when I started running in 2011, I was a severely overweight 37 year-old mom, only 4 months post-partum from having my third child. I huffed and puffed my way through the Couch to 5K Program and was eventually able to run a nonstop 5K in the space of 10 weeks. I’d never run before. Somehow, within 10 weeks I was able to complete that distance, simply by putting on sneakers and following the program.
Despite the efforts I’d put forth, I still wasn’t really comfortable calling myself a “runner”. After all, I was overweight, slow, and not athletic-looking at all. Therefore, I somehow barred myself from being called a runner because I didn’t think I had earned the title. There was still too much about me that was imperfect, inept, and incapable. It was a real emotional workout, probably harder than the physical one of actually running.
Then I ran a 5K race in September of 2011, complete with a race bib and a balloon arch at the finish line. Upon completing that race, it all suddenly made sense. I realized that if I laced up my shoes and pounded the pavement, this by definition made me a runner. The balloons and race bib were pretty adornments, but even without them, I was still a runner. Previously, I had felt proud of my accomplishments in training myself to run, but simultaneously ashamed at how far I had to go. I had manufactured an unspoken standard for what a runner should be that was not real. It was merely a fictional restriction I had imposed on myself. However, a moment of enlightenment took place at the end of that 5K race and I finally embraced the moniker of “runner”. Trust me, everyone who had the misfortune of having me in their news feed on Facebook was well aware that I considered myself a runner.
So for several years, I ran. A lot. I trained and ran 5K and 10K races and eventually a 10-miler and a half marathon. I was motivated, excited and feeling great. Although I was still somewhat overweight and slow, I had come to see myself as a runner. For real. Why? Because I was running.
Fast forward to January 2016. My well-beloved title of “runner” was abruptly stripped from me due to complicated back injuries. You can read about this in the post that actually explains how this blog came to be. Having lost that title because I couldn’t run, I found it hard to reconcile for awhile. I couldn’t run, so I wasn’t a runner. After a mourning period that involved a lot of lamenting and eating too many Cheez-Its, I began writing instead. Specifically, I chose a blog as my medium. Writing became my unexpected way of expressing all the things that running had actually been distracting me from. And so, Earl Grey and Yellow was born.
Somehow, I again fell into the trap of being hesitant to embrace a title. Really? Hadn’t I learned from the last time? The new title was “writer”. I was blogging up a storm all throughout 2016 once I started in April. Yet, I didn’t allow myself to call myself a writer. Not even in my head, and definitely not out loud. A writer? That was ridiculous. My job wasn’t to be a writer (though it is a dream) and I was still working out the kinks in my technique. My writing wasn’t what I wanted it to be. It was rusty, imperfect, and not even widely read.
Last month, I did something crazy. I felt inspired to get more serious about honing my craft and registered for a writers’ conference that will take place this June. I’ve never been away alone for 5 days and have never driven 6 hours by myself. But I will this summer. Once I’d taken the flying leap of faith to register for the conference, I began to entertain the idea that it was acceptable to think of myself as a real writer. But I still felt foolish about saying it. It sounded impossibly silly, flaky even.
So I waded in even more deeply, scouring Facebook for writers’ groups and sending requests to join. Then, they began to accept my requests. Suddenly I was in writers’ groups and going to a writers’ conference. However, as I have come to realize, these things don’t make me a writer. What makes me a writer is that I write. I write on a blog and some people read it. There are ideas in my head about books that I might like to pursue writing. These things make me a writer.
So if you run, write, paint, dance, draw, sing, or whatever it is you do, then you are one. A painter. A dancer. A runner. A writer. It’s you if you do it. And you don’t have to do it perfectly. You don’t even have to do it often. You just have to do it and like it and then you can say it. And you will simply be.
It’s you if you do it. And you don’t have to do it perfectly.
My name is Tracy and I am a writer. You may even hear of me someday. But even if you don’t? I’m still a writer. For real.