01 December 2015

Labelling ourselves

The first time you meet someone new, you'll exchange chitchat about yourselves. It usually won't be anything deeply personal but might include facts like where you live, what type of work you do, and what activities you enjoy. Harmless, really.

You may describe yourself by using labels, such as 'mother', 'quilter', 'gardener' in an attempt to find common ground. These can be helpful to start conversations as we mentally sort people into groups. 

But once you start believing that these labels define you, disquiet looms. Labels can be beneficial but they can also be restrictive.

Over the past year, I've been cautiously trying a new, extra label on myself; that of 'writer'. I whispered it to myself at first, for fear that someone would overhear me and laugh. I considered the word every day and gradually my conviction became stronger - yes, I can use this label.

I've been writing, in one form or another, for most of my life. I've been a technical writer for 25 years - writing library software user instructions, and writing and editing quilt patterns. I've written book reviews, articles profiling crafts people, and articles about my own experiences. I've been writing here for nearly ten years. I've written a multitude of short stories and I'm working on a novel.

Yet I've never thought of myself as a writer. 

Labels can limit and confine us. They can make us feel that we can't develop our lives into new areas. They can prevent us seeing what we truly are.

So, this year, I am owning my new label and saying confidently: I am a writer. 

What label will you add to your own description?


  1. Good points. We are also slow to call ourselves artists. Recently I've been trying to up my photo taking skills and have borrowed a DSLR camera. I have been playing in earnest, and it's slowly making sense. The other day I was clicking and twiddling and clicking some more while someone watched. They saw a person who was holding a 'serious' camera and looked like they knew what they were doing, and I thought - yes, I AM a photographer! I am owning that label too now :)

    1. YES! I'm convinced we need to keep working against that internal 'I am an impostor' voice in our mind. I'm glad you are owning it.


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