As I navigate the dubious, ever-winding path of selfhood- I have often pondered the importance of title- and the arbitrary weight we give to it. Having bartended for many years as a means to support my artistic and entrepreneurial pursuits- I have fallen victim to self-limiting concepts that come with clinging to titles. I hated thinking of myself as a “just a bartender”. I am so much more, I thought- I’m an artist! But wait am I artist? Am I an entrepreneur? What does that mean anyway? Is it some special privilege to say you make art or that you like to start businesses? Should I be able to draw really well to say I’m an artist? Should I be running a successful business to say I’m an entrepreneur? Do I need to know what is in an obscure classic cocktail to say I’m a bartender? All these fucking questions!! Ahhh why do I even bother?
This habit of attaching so much weight to a random set of words began to stifle me. I felt boxed in as if I could not be both one and the other. I know as humans we have an instinctual need to define things so we understand how to approach them but I think the whole idea of titles or names we give ourselves just seems like a strange practice when you consider that no one is just one thing- I am an artist, an athlete, a friend, a cook, so on and so forth- those names just describe things I like doing, and in no way could they encapsulate who I am as a person. Kierkegaard said it best when he said, “If you name me, you negate me. By giving me a name, a label, you negate all the other things I could possibly be.”
When I was at the Wodapooloza Crossfit fitness festival this past weekend the security guard at the front gate asked me, as I waited to enter, “Are you an athlete?” (woot-woot- shout out to my box Shazam- got your girl looking right) “No,” I said, “I’m just here to volunteer.” I began to think about this title of an athlete in the context of it being similar to the title of artist. It’s a title revered by society- reserved for the sacred few who are “good enough.” But what makes someone good enough? In my humble opinion, we are all artists- because at some point or another we are all using our creative minds to produce something. It could be creating a workout – my best friend Loren is z best at that! It could also be creating a meal, crafting a cocktail- creating a spreadsheet- really just living life- from the time you get up to the way you brush your teeth. Living a balanced life is most certainly an art form. In that regard, this same logic can be applied to “athlete.” For me being an athlete means you can endure pain toward a goal, you are willing to forgo the present discomfort for future gain – whether it’s running a 5-minute mile or getting to work on time every day- that shit takes work!
The big takeaway is that too often we let names or titles deter us from pursuing our dreams because we feel that we are not good enough to assume those roles. But the truth is those names mean nothing, and there is no standard to which you must hold yourself to be anything. If you want to consider yourself an athelte, and it takes you 30 minutes to run a mile- well guess what? You’re running, right? You’re enduring pain, right? I think that means you are a fucking athlete- but don’t take my word for it- the only opinion that actually matters is your own. We can be whatever we want to be and giving ourselves permission to do, in spite of what we think society might say, is the biggest step we can take.