I recently wrote an Instagram post that went like this:
“PSA: You don't have to wait for someone to give you a job title in order to be whatever it is you want. Creativity is not hinged on job titles. You want to take nudey pictures of people out in the woods and call yourself a photographer, then do it. You want to write about wilderness in an abstract way after 3 glasses of Malbec and have someone pay you for it? Um, do it.
Fuck the rules, they don't exist, especially when there's this thing called the Internet and people out there who get you.
Because permission is just a word and you don't need it in your vocabulary.”
And people responded. I had commenters that told me they needed a poster of this so they can be reminded of this every day. So, to me, that means I struck a chord. I wanted to dive deeper into this topic because it hits me in the feels every time.
In the last 5ish years of my life, I’ve been trying to live more creatively, and to make a living making things. But every time I attempted to write or take photos professionally, I was met with this fear, this embarrassment.
They call it “imposter syndrome.”
Creatively, it’s a straightjacket that makes you feel like you’re not a legitimate writer, photographer, artist, etc, and they (whoever they are), will certainly find you out as a fake and do terrible things (like shame you on the Internet, or whatever).
Every time I was like “ok, I’m going to be a writer” or a “photographer,” I felt this need to legitimize myself as those things by getting a job title.
So basically I was asking for permission to be a creator by asking for a job.
How ridiculous is that? When we’re children we don’t ask other children to be the mud-pie maker, we just stick our hands in the muck and make pies. And then we run a make-believe kitchen with all our friends and everyone is making whatever they want and its friggin’ great.
So, I’ll say it again: Creativity is not hinged on job titles.
Creativity is whatever makes you feel alive and forget to eat for hours because you’re so deep in it. In order to live in that headspace, you don’t need to legitimize yourself with other people’s validation or approval, you just do it.
Just because your tax documents say you’re an accountant, or manage data, or drive heavy machinery, does not mean you’re excluded from living a creative life and being a legitimate creator.
At the end of the day, if you wait around for someone to bless you with a job title, or to call you a writer or photographer, you’ll be waiting until you’re laying on your death bed thinking about all those things you could have made.
DO NOT wait to be given permission to create, or be whatever it is you want to be when you grow up. Give yourself the job title and create with wild abandon.
Legitimize yourself first and the rest will follow.
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