This last spring I was at a graduation party for a couple of friends. There were lots of people there that I hadn’t met before, so inevitably the mingling led to the question that I’m sure you’ve answered many times: “So, what do you do?”
For the past couple of years I’ve had a simple answer to that question: I’m a substitute high school teacher.
But with school being out for the summer and with me actively pursuing a side career, I decided to answer this person in a way that I never had before: “I’m an illustrator,” I said.
It sounded weird coming out of my mouth. I followed up that statement with an attempt to explain what sketchnoting and graphic recording are all about. I stumbled through that attempt, and have gotten only mildly better at it since then.
Calling myself an illustrator rather than a substitute teacher is a pretty big milestone for me. In some ways I still don’t believe I deserve that title, but since that’s how I make my living, that’s what I’m going with.
A close friend of mine who was part of the same conversation recognized the novelty of my response, and complimented me for embracing that identity.
I encourage you to do the same (the embracing part, not the complimenting – though compliments are always welcome).
Wherever you are on your path developing a new skill or mastering one you’ve been at for a while, recognize that the day will come (if it hasn’t already) when that aspect of your life is one of your primary identities.
My advice is to embrace that identity and start living it as early as you can. The sooner you see yourself as an artist, or musician, or writer, or whatever it is you are becoming, the sooner you will start living your daily life in accordance with that identity.
And that’s a transition worth celebrating.
Photo Credit: claireonline