It was in the garage on a recent Saturday that I was reminded of what I want to be in life.
As my wife and I tried to package items to give away or throw away, and as our kids scoured the shelves and bins for old toys they had forgotten but now wanted to (all of sudden desperately) play with again, my daughter came across a box full of papers.
The box held school work and essays and projects I had completed in grade school, that my parents had saved (and given to me when they recently cleaned out their garage!)
One essay was from fifth grade. 1985. The assignment was to write a script for a radio show in which an historical figure is interviewed. We students had to set the stage, create the characters for the show and weave in the narrative of the historical figure’s life.
I chose Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant. I got an A. It was pretty good (even if my handwriting was pretty bad).
My eight year old daughter picked up the report, turned the pages, read a bit of it and looked up at me and said Daddy, you were a pretty good writer.
I am a writer. What are you?
Like many of us attorneys, I became a lawyer because it was safe and secure and respected and lucrative. And just what you do.
But I have always wanted to be something else. I have always wanted to do my own “art”. The stuff I enjoy and am good at and add value to people.
I personally have always wanted to be a “writer”. I have those short stories in me. I have that novel in me. I have those articles in me. I have that thought leadership in me.
But somewhere along the line, writing became less fun, and these dreams became less attainable. In law school, my writing became less creative and more formulaic. As a lawyer, my writing simply became “work”.
But most of all, I was not accountable for my lack of creative writing. I just didn’t do it. I claimed I was tired, burnt out, had writer’s block, or had nothing interesting to say. So I didn’t write.
My public declaration of who I am and who I want to be
No longer. I’ve been writing this blog for almost 6 years and it resonates with and helps many in our community. And I write a lot in my other professional pursuits. It feels weird to say this, but I’m going to say it. I’m going to publicly declare it: I am a writer.
I am a writer.
I am a writer.
I am no longer a lawyer who wants to write but just doesn’t write. I am a writer. It’s of course not all I am. But it is a critical part of what I am.
By saying this, I celebrate what I have done so far and I make myself accountable to write more in the future.
Of course, by publicly declaring anything we risk ridicule. And mistakes. People will say I’m not the best writer or not the most creative writer. People will say I’m being presumptuous or arrogant.
That’s the irony of the world we live in. We are simultaneously encouraged to find what we’re good at and enjoy … and then beaten down when we do and make it known.
Don’t get beaten down. Do make it known.
What are you? What is your art? How do you add value? What you are you not pursuing that you know you want to pursue?
What would you like to declare? If you could call yourself anything right now, what would it be? A writer, a communicator, a listener, a public speaker, an empathetic person, organized, detailed oriented, a singer, a deadline meeter, a …
What is your art?
Not sure? Where can you look for guidance? Or inspiration? What old boxes are around somewhere?