You Can Do It, Put Your Back Into It
“So, what do you do?”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been asked this question and began rambling through a list of odds and ends. “Oh, write for a couple websites, freelance my videography and editing skills and I’m on work/study at a dance studio so I can train for free. I’m still trying to figure it out.” That answer seems fine enough, but let me ask a different question.
“Who are you?”
I don’t mean your name and where you’re from, no. We’re always striving to reach our goals to become the idealized version of ourselves we see in the future, but who are you right now? Who are you in this part of your journey? What are you doing that fuels your sense of self? What do you identify with?
Literally, what are you doing with this life?
I do not hesitate to call myself a dancer. I’ve danced my way through the education system from kindergarten to my college degree. I worked through pre-teen drama, teen angst, young love and immaturity with dance by my side. Dance is my life’s work. Dance is what has informed everything else I’ve done.
Being a dancer is engrained in my identity, but being a dancer has also lead me to where I am right now—writing, videography and editing. I started sharing my writing regularly, studying filmmaking and creating my own videos three years ago, but I just started claiming these art forms for myself when I officially graduated.
Why don’t we call a spade a spade when it comes to who we are?
I’ve written countless pieces. I’ve directed, shot and edited numerous videos.
That makes me a writer. That makes me a filmmaker.
In 2015, I was funded by my university to complete a project I created named Project Playtime. I wanted to teach myself a handful of different mediums ranging from painting to photography and create art for the entire summer. In my mind, this was a very low stakes situation. Theoretically, there would be no pressure to create something “good.” That was supposed to be the fun of it.
Long story short, that wasn’t the case. Being more worried about the title of photographer, painter, filmmaker or writer and feeling that I was undeserving of those titles stopped all creativity in its tracks. I finished very few projects and I judged them severely.
What happens when we put the emphasis on just doing, let go of the the title and focus on the work?
I think we get out of our own way, and grow beyond our imaginations to authentically become people deserving of those titles. Why? Because then we can simply begin.
Grab a piece of paper. Write down a list of the things that you do for yourself and for the world. It may not be your job. It may not be extremely profitable for you yet, but don’t do yourself the disservice of underselling yourself. What do you love to do? Throw your weight behind it. Believing in your abilities encourages others to do the same.
I’m an unemployed professional dancer first and foremost, but I am also a writer and a filmmaker.
So, what do you do?