I used to say that I was an aspiring writer. Now I just say I’m a writer.
Well, I realized that I’m not just aspiring at writing anymore. I am writing.
Aspire: verb (intr) (usually followed by to or after) to yearn (for) or have a powerful or ambitious plan, desire, or hope (Dictionary.com).
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with aspiring to be something. Aspirations are cool; they’re necessary. If we didn’t have any dreams or aspirations, we wouldn’t get very far in life. However, I do have a problem with getting stuck in the “aspiring” mindset. And I think it’s way too easy to get stuck there if we keep labeling ourselves as someone who is aspiring to be something even once we’ve left the planning stage.
To aspire means to hope and dream of something that you desire to happen in the future. If you’re aspiring to do something, you have yet to step out and take the first step of doing it. But for some reason we often still label ourselves as “aspiring” even after taking that first step.
So you aspire to be something. That’s great. And in the interest of that aspiration, you dream, think, and plan, eagerly anticipating the moment when those goals will materialize. But there comes a point at which you leave the planning stage behind and begin forging your path as you actualize those dreams and plans.
Granted, the first few attempts at making a dream or plan happen may not go off as grand and successfully as you visualized it. But you’re still doing it–or at least trying to do it–regardless of the quality or success.
I realize there can be a fine line between trying to do something and actually doing it. But you’re trying, and that’s what really matters. Trying is doing.
Or maybe “trying” is the wrong word. In the immortal words of the Jedi Master Yoda, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” Interpret that as you will, but he’s definitely onto something.
Aspiring to do something is awesome. But at some point you need to stop aspiring and just do it. Or try to do it. Whatever. And if you’re doing it, don’t keep inaccurately labeling yourself as “an aspiring _______ .”
All right, so maybe you stop planning and you start doing. But in your beginning stages of actualizing your goal, you still feel inadequate, for legitimate reasons. Maybe you are not the best in your field or you still feel like a complete novice and that you are not worthy of the title to which you have been aspiring. Maybe you think you should still qualify your career/vocation title by placing that “aspiring” in front of it lest anyone get an overinflated impression of your abilities. After all, you don’t want to make people mistakenly believe that you are better than you are.
I see this pretty often on the internet and social media.
“I’m an aspiring writer. . .photographer. . . entrepreneur. . . musician.”
Whatever it might be.
I used to say it too: “I’m an aspiring writer and photographer.” So I fully get the feeling of needing that qualifier or disclaimer.
To say that I’m a writer, just like that, point blank, is a scary feeling. It’s vulnerable. It feels like I’ve put myself out there and everyone can see me and is now watching to see whether or not I will make good on my claim. It feels like I’ve taken that leap out of the plane with no turning back, and my parachute had better open up or I’m dead.
Saying instead that I’m an “aspiring writer” is safe and comfortable. It allows me to subtly inform the public that I don’t claim to be an expert or a professional (yet). It leaves room for mistakes or possible failure. (“Oops, I’ve failed at this aspiration, but that’s ok because it was only a dream and I guess it didn’t pan out after all. On to the next dream.”)
I believe that is a faulty way of thinking. Honestly, none of us are going to be amazing in our field right away, and it’s foolish and presumptuous to think so. Mistakes and setbacks are inevitable. But regardless of your level of ability, you still don’t need the “aspiring.”
Because the moment you step out of the planning stage and into the doing stage you are no longer aspiring at it. You are doing it. No matter how good you are at it, you are still doing it. You shouldn’t have to qualify or explain yourself for other people by making sure they know you might not be as good as they expect. It doesn’t matter what they think, because as long as you are doing what you have dreamed of and planned out, you have the right to call yourself by that title.
Don’t devalue yourself or sell yourself short by giving yourself a second-class label.
It’s taken me a while to get out of that aspiring comfort zone and say it like it is. But labeling myself as an “aspiring writer” feels too much like an easy out. I feel like it promotes a mindset that will hold me back. And I don’t want to even give myself a little bit of an out or any sort of justification for giving up or not doing my very best at it.
I’m a writer. I’m not a perfect writer, and I sometimes feel like I am the worst, most lazy, unsuccessful, uninspired, and confusing writer on the planet–but I am still a writer. I’m not aspiring at it anymore. I’m doing it. And I’ll keep doing it until I am good at it. Until I am an exceptional, motivated, successful, inspired, articulate writer.
I could say I’m an aspiring full-time professional writer, or an aspiring paid writer, or an aspiring New York Times Bestselling Author. I can say that I am an aspiring writer guru. I’m an aspiring Jedi Master of the Writing World. Because I am all of those.
But I can’t say I’m an aspiring writer anymore. I’m a writer. Let anyone try to tell me I’m not. They can tell me I’m a horrible writer. They can tell me I’m the worst writer in the entire universe. But I’m still a writer. I’ve taken my lightsaber out and begun wielding it against the evil forces of the Dark Side, however awkward and unskilled I may be. I’m in the Jedi Order, and now it’s up to me to rise up among the levels of greatness and skill until I become a Master.
If you can relate to this, that’s great; or if you think I’m being persnickety or that this is not significant enough of an issue to write a whole blog post on, that’s fine too. But more than anything, I’m writing this to myself. This is something I personally need to hear and internalize, because I’ve devalued and undersold myself in my own mind too often in the past.
So that’s it. Let me know if you can relate or whatever your response to this post may be. I’m open to all opinions and I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading!
And while I’m here, Happy Memorial Day!