I am not.

I am not an artist. No, don’t argue with me. I’m not. I enjoy drawing, creating, putting feelings into form, providing a new view for others, and, as the occasion presents itself, sharing my art in exchange for cash.

But I’m not an artist.

As an idealist, I can’t handle labels. They put too much pressure on me. More correctly, I create labels and then put the pressure on myself. In this example, the label “artist” bears so much weight in my mind, so much to live up to. I call myself an artist, and then I quit because I can’t DO all those artist things that artists are supposed to do. (Or what I think they’re supposed to do.)

In my mind, an artist creates art ALL the time. An artist promotes her work, at art festivals, art galleries, and, apparently, other places that successful artists know about. An artist blogs about her work, very consistently, of course. An artist has a certain persona, makes fashion statements, speaks in a poetic rhythm with words that both heal and haunt her listener. An artist demands, rightfully so, high prices for her pieces, and her audience eagerly pays such prices because of the incredible value of her work.

See, I can’t live up to this. My idealist brain has made the “artist” label a nearly magical one, and it’s a set of expectations that isn’t appropriate for who I am—or, rather, what I enjoy.

I tend to label things—a kind of filing system for myself, I suppose—and then I try to force a bunch of criteria onto whatever person or experience I’ve placed in that file folder. To put it plainly, I measure myself and every experience against *magical* standards.

So, as an idealist, I’m rarely pleased with anything. There is so much disappointment. I have a specific set of expectations, and they are impossible to meet. Truly impossible. It’s incredibly frustrating, even downright depressing. And it’s no one’s fault but mine, because I’m the one who has created them.

If I think I’m an artist, then I am supposed to do all the artist things I've assigned to that label. If I’m not doing them, I’m a failure. I’m not a “real” artist. (Or a “real” mother, wife, Christian, musician, poet, cook, gardener...you name it.)

So, I need to stop labeling myself with terms that carry such exacting expectations (of my own making) and identify instead with what I ENJOY.

I like to draw.

See? That’s easy to live up to. I like to draw. That’s something I like to do. That description doesn’t drag me into some non-reality that isn’t me.

But losing the label also inspires me. When I hear myself say, “I like to draw,” it sets me free into the pleasure of my work. It actually makes me want to sit down and begin drawing. It’s strange, really.

Anyway, I’m hoping to work my way through some of these labels and gain clarity on this life I’ve been given. I want to live fully in the pleasure of each moment, whether I’m sitting down with a pencil and my sketchbook or walking down the school hallway with my three rowdy kids.

What kind of labels are you living under? Are you an idealist, who, like me, is easily frustrated and disappointed? What areas of your life do you wish you could enjoy more? Tell us in the Comments section!

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