A few weeks ago, I had a startling realization.
Many of you know, I sew stoles for clergy. It’s not my full-time job, but few of us are unlucky enough to have their whole identity captured in a single pursuit. I sew stoles on weekends (and evenings when demand or procrastination require it), but I had resolved last summer when taking up this endeavor that I should not let this “part-time” status define me. I am an artist. Through and through. I’ve been wanting to make art for years… ever since I was a little kid and I didn’t know that art was so special. To me, it’s been a way of being for as long as I can remember.
But I’ve not always referred to myself as “artist.” I made the decision last summer to finally take on this mantle. A few weeks ago, I realized that I had slowly, imperceptibly forgotten this decision.
At a social gathering, someone asked me “what do you do?” They did not ask me where I work, or how I earn the money that pays my bills. They did not ask me where I spend 40 hours of my week… but that’s the answer I gave them. I was shocked at myself.
Where did “artist” go? I love what I spend 40 hours a week doing (don’t get me wrong there), but I also love that I get to make art! And that people actually kinda like it! Even more, the fact that I get to make art makes me better at what I do 40 hours a week–I get to be more creative and engaged during those 40 hours because I know that, in the end, everything that I do is filtered through the lens of making the world a more beautiful place. How could I forget that I was an artist?
It’s all about identity. “Who do you say that I am?” is not a question reserved for only the greatest figures… they ought to be aimed firstly at ourselves. Who do you say that you are? I bet that if you think enough about it, you’ll be surprised at your answer.
Is the thing you do 40 or more hours a week how you define yourself? Yes? Great! No? Look harder, then.
Let’s make a choice to identify ourselves in our best light… not the light that the world finds most convenient.