I waited for a long time for that great finger from the sky to come down, through the clouds, touch me on the forehead and label me an artist. I would then be allowed to use the term to describe myself because it had been officially deemed by a higher authority who knew about these things.
Of course, I realised that it was actually up to me. I was the one who had to decide on that descriptor and then, shoving down the fear, live up to it. It still took some time – business cards printed without ‘artist’, sticking with the no-longer-fully-accurate identity for safety and some sort of over-pedantic ‘honesty’.
But eventually I wanted to try it out. I filled in the blank on a form at the dentist first. Occupation: artist. The well-known imposter syndrome kicked in and I almost crossed it out. Only almost. For better or worse, a business in Unley, Adelaide, has me forever listed as a person of creativity.
After some time of writing the word, I tried it out verbally – qualified at first with phrases such as ‘just part time’, ‘only amateur’, ‘not really making a living’. Now, after a number of years, I can use the term and not feel quite so much like I’m aged five, clunking around in front of a mirror wearing mum’s best shoes and glamorous shawl.
But, underlying all this is the reality that the best way to be something is to do it. Labels are, after all, meaningless if there is no action behind them. Don’t waste time waiting for the great finger from the sky. Make it irrefutable by your practice.