Last night in dance class, the teacher referred to us as dancers. And that immediately set off the little voice in my head. "I'm taking dance classes, but I'm not a dancer," it said.
This is my second year of classes. We are not limited to beginner moves at all. I have performed on stage at the Pike's Peak Center. The same stage that "real" dancers grace all the time. So why don't I think of myself as a dancer?
Most of the writers I know have gone through a similar experience. "I'm working on a book, but I wouldn't exactly call myself a writer." It's a big deal the first time one of says, aloud to another person, "I'm a writer."
Why is it so hard? Where is the line that makes us self-identify as something--writer, dancer, artist, musician, athlete?
Time? Do we feel we have to practice for years before we magically become that which we so obviously already are? I can say I'm a writer without flinching. Not so with dancer or musician. But I've played music most of my life. So it's not just time.
Payment? I've received a sum total of $55.00 for my writing over the last ten years. Not money.
Recognition? I took a couple bows, as part of a group, at the Pikes Peak Center, and a few other students have told me how fast I'm progressing. I had a couple solos on the clarinet back in school, and quite a few atta-girls in banjo class. So it's not the approval of others.
Self-perceived skill level? I think this may be the one for me. Not that I feel I'm all that as a writer, but I have built a certain confidence in my writing. Although I've played music a long time, I'm relatively new to my current instrument, the banjo. I struggle with a couple chords and still do not play fast. I seem to be a pretty quick study in dance, but I'm not confident as a dancer. Again, I struggle with some of the moves, especially the faster ones.
What is the trigger for you? When is it okay for you to identify yourself as [fill in your own blank]? Is it one of these things or something else?