You are allowed to choose how you describe yourself and the labels you take on. Who and what you are is not based on what others decide you are.
You do not need to wait for someone to tell you what you are, you get to tell the world what you are.
If you paint you are a painter, if you run you are a runner, and if you play games then you are a gamer. It does not matter how long you have been doing it, what skill level you are at, or if you even have goals other than enjoying what you do.
Realize that you have the power to control your narrative
One of the most important mindsets to have is to truly believe that you have the ability to control your narrative. It can be difficult to have this belief stay with you as you feel you do not have the power to control your narrative.
Having that control can also be daunting, we may not know how to control our narrative or even what we want our narrative to be.
One of the incredible things about being human is that we are always growing, changing, and learning about the world and ourselves.
There are times to reassess and work on figuring ourselves outOur narrative and who we are will change over time, it’s meant to. We do not need to know exactly who we are at any given moment in our lives.
Resist the temptation and pressure to have outside forces tell you who you are and who you are not. This is easier said than done. But, we are allowed to take the time needed to be who we want to be. Society may want you to neatly fit into a category, but that’s not something you need to do.
Your narrative is an opportunity, not a burden
It can feel daunting and overwhelming to realize you are responsible for the life you want. But try to reframe that statement in your mind. Instead of seeing it as the heavy burden of responsibility, see it as an opportunity to live the life you want.
See it as the realization that you have the power and are in control of your own life, who and what you become.
You can invent and decide how you choose to live your life. This isn’t meant to downplay the strength it takes to live the life you want or to over simplify what it means to live life truly being the person you are. It is meant as a reminder that you have the inner strength, fortitude, and ability to be passionately and unapologetically you.
You decide on your labels
We can overthink what we are and feel we can only take labels others have given to us. We feel we are not a yogi, hiker, or gardener until someone else calls us that.
Whether you do something as a professional or a hobby you do not need to wait for someone else to acknowledge what you do.
Your focus does not need to be on how much experience you have or what your future plans are, your focus can simply be on enjoying what you do and doing it your way.
You can be a yogi even if you just practice at home, you can be a hiker even if you only take short trails, and you can be a gardener even if you have just started planting.
There is no arbitrary point at which you can suddenly call yourself something. There is no initiation that you need to get through to be able to give yourself a label.
Other people do not get to decide who you are
It is easy to feel you are not allowed to claim that you have knowledge of or are interested in a field or topic. You may feel you do not have the authority or experience to make that statement. We often wait for others to give us a title or a role.
Others do not get to write our story or tell us how we are living our life. We have the ability to control our narrative and we should take every opportunity to do so.
Other people will try to label you or take away the labels you have given yourself. They may tell you that you are not allowed to call yourself something because they have decided you do not fit their picture of what that thing should be. Others will try and gatekeep as they feel that only certain members that they approve of should be part of a group, but that’s just not how things work.
A reader does not need to have read a certain genre or a specific number of pages. Others do not get to tell you that you are not a reader because you only read romance novels, or sci-fi, or world war 2 biographies, or Russian classics. You read books, you can call yourself a reader.
Get comfortable describing yourself
We fear labeling ourselves as we feel we will be found out as a fraud. As though someone is going to check in on us and make sure we have labeled ourselves correctly as a musician or painter.
We may worry that someone will question us and we will have to show proof that we are what we say we are.
Even if you have been taking photographs for years you may not feel you can call yourself a photographer. We can tend to think that only when someone else gives us a label are we allowed to use it ourselves.
We are what we choose to be and we can label ourselves as we see fit. We can change the narrative and choose our own description.
As you work to get more comfortable being who you are, consider going through a conversation with your inner self doubt. It can help you get more comfortable using the labels you want to use.
You: I am a writer.
Self doubt: What have you written?
You: Short stories, some poems, some blog posts.
Self doubt: Is this your profession? Are you even any good at it?
You: No, but I can be a writer without it being my full-time job and I am just starting out.
Self doubt: You can’t call yourself a writer, hardly anyone has even seen your work. Do you even know what it means to be a writer?
You: Being a writer means I write, since I write, I am allowed to call myself a writer. Even if I do this as a hobby or it is weeks between writing sessions or nothing I write gets broadly published, I am putting words out into the world so I will call myself a writer.