You Are What You Think You Are

I’ve had several self-constructed careers and at the beginning of each one, I’ve felt a shyness about declaring who I am this time—artist, photographer, video producer, craftsperson, massage therapist, writer/illustrator. But after that first moment of hesitancy on my part, I found that everyone accepted me in my new role. Even people who had been closely involved in my old role. Oh, she’s this now? Ok.

This gives me a profound feeling of gratitude because I consider this acceptance of my current profession, by extension, an acceptance of me. I see it as an offering of faith in me and my abilities that I sometimes don’t have in myself.

In my career shifting, I have learned that you are what you think you are. If you think you are a writer, and you work at being a writer and you declare yourself a writer, people will treat you as a writer and your friends will support you as a writer. Ditto for being a craftsperson.

Supportive people are the safety net of trying something new, and the urge to try something new is as old as human kind itself. Think teen years and mid-life crisis.

Every year, in a Nevada desert, an ephemeral city comes into being for one week; it’s a place where people go to try new things—identities, creativities, lifestyles. This year the attendance at Burning Man was over sixty thousand. I’m intrigued: Are there so many people who need an infrastructure and permission to be creative and take chances? Burning Man is an interesting concept, but do you need to pay money and travel to a set-aside place to try on new interests? I think you can do it in your everyday life. Take that leap—the worst that can happen is that you find it’s not what you thought it would be and in that case you move on. And once you’ve found the courage to take that chance with yourself—and it is just a springboard really, the leap into the pond—you will discover the real jewel in the heart of the lotus.

You will find that you will be supported. People will help you. And as you realize this, you will find that you too, will support. The acceptance and generosity from others will find an empathizing home of acceptance and generosity within you and you will be moved to support your own friends’ interests and changes. In this way, the support and tolerance and creativity grows, until eventually it becomes an undeniable truth: There’s room for everybody.

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