“Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
Why have I hesitated to call myself an artist or a poet, in spite of a decent amount of formal training? In fact, there is a long list of things I have been too uncomfortable with labeling myself as: dancer, yogi, musician, writer. This thought has come up more vehemently in my mind recently because someone asked me if I was a runner. I shuffled a little and awkwardly answered: “Yes?”
Honestly, I have never been one to label myself as something outright. This decision was never based on some esoteric notion of existing as a multi-dimensional being who is ever changing and transforming. No, I just never wanted to seem prideful enough to presume I was worthy of a title. That sentiment is laughable to me now, because false humility is ridiculous. In college, I was plagued with the “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO for the hip folks out there). So much so, that I double majored! I didn’t want to jump wholeheartedly into Art or English, so I split my focus between the two. The result was being continuously grateful for my two fields of study while being perpetually confused at my decision to have two fields of study. Looking back on it, all my work suffered because of this.
When I timidly called myself a runner a few weeks ago, I was allowing myself to be all in for something and that made me tremendously nervous. The days that followed, I acted like I was a runner. Not someone who likes to run, but a real runner. My FOMO kicked in the first day and I had thoughts like “What if training hard makes me unable to work on my poetry collection? Should I just give that up?” and “I’m never going to have time to re-learn how to work with gouache if I’m having to stretch and foam roll on my evenings off.” I shook the anxiety off and kept running. The next day, I doubted myself and thought: I haven’t won races or gone impossible distances, it’s silly to even dream that I am a runner. I exhaled that sentiment and kept running. I kept running through beautiful tears on the beach New Year’s Day and I kept running through the snow last week. The result of my labeling experiment has delightfully surprised me.
By completely diving into my identity as a runner, all my other identities have not faded away. Instead, they have been brought into sharper focus than before. I have not had to deny my creative pursuits! I have been more motivated than ever to write and paint. Not only have I thought about these things, but I have done them. I didn’t look long enough to find scientific back up on this theory. But in the words of Ron Swanson, “whole-ass one thing.” Run towards it with your whole being. You will wonder at the clarity of your peripheral vision. By choosing one thing to become, all the other you’s will fall into line.