A Distinction That Makes a Big Difference

I heard someone years ago make an interesting distinction. She said that she ran, but was not a runner. It stuck with me once I heard it as a way I could differentiate doing something and without claiming that I was any good at it.

I ride bikes but I’m not a cyclist.

I plant and water things in my garden but am not a gardener.

I write but am not a writer.

Part of the reason that I don’t think of myself as a writer is that I’m an electrical engineer by education. The very last class I took before I got my degree was technical writing. I put it off until the very end because I thought it would be so easy and found out the hard way, with my degree on the line, that it was just as challenging.

But sometimes I have to update who I am.  I was recently invited to be part of the talented group of writers that make up this Pointless Overthinking blog. Since I am by disposition a lot like a golden retriever – happy, goofy and energetic, my reaction was pretty much along those lines: ecstatic, a little teary and enthusiastic.

I don’t join groups very often these days. I work as a freelance technical consultant largely alone, I parent alone, and since my Budheo-Christian beliefs don’t align with any particular church, I even worship alone. So for me just applying to join a group is a big deal.

It was an even bigger deal for me to be selected because it came with the sentence, “We were looking for someone who likes to both tell stories and mix in a little philosophizing, and you perfectly fit that description.”

I think I need to update, for my own self-image and not as an act of hubris, that I might not only write but in fact might actually be, a writer. Because making the distinction does not protect me from failure, it only prevents me from stepping into the fullness of the effort. It’s like renting a role instead of owning it.

Marianne Williamson captured the essence of this so concisely, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” The problem with believing we are powerful is then we have to act on it.

How about you? Is there anything you need to update and claim?

[Side note: I can’t easily make this same distinction in English with parenting. I have children but am not a parent says something else entirely. Perhaps that is a bit of grace that reminds parents we are all in the same boat as we try our best to live up to the role of parent.]

This post is an expanded version of a post originally published on Wynne Leon’s personal blog.

Follow me on Instagram at @wynneleon

(featured photo from Pexels)

16 thoughts on “A Distinction That Makes a Big Difference

  1. Oh you’re a writer alright Wynne. No doubt about it. I had similar feelings when I joined the team here at PO. I’d never thought of myself as a writer before, but like you – I’m trying to own that tag now. Great post 🙏

    1. What a lovely and affirming comment, AP2. Because no matter how much I believe it myself, IT IS STILL GREAT TO HEAR IT! 🙂

      And likewise, AP2, I love your writing and all the passion and thinking you put into your posts! And this platform where it is cool to write, think, express and discuss all these interesting and deep things. Thanks for letting me join the team!

      Sending my best to you! – Wynne

      1. Thank you Wynne. I appreciate your kind words. You’re a wonderful addition to the team. We’re lucky to have you. Kind regards, AP2

  2. I am a writer. I just published a book, so am I an author now? Or am I an imposter? I was just pondering this very question and comparing myself with others who write the way I do, but seem so far ahead of me—like me on steroids (bring on the steroids)! I can either shrink back into myself and think I’m not good enough, or I can believe in myself and step into my own power. It’s all a matter of how I view myself, right? My choice. Always my choice. Love PO and all of you splendid, insightful, introspective, self-aware writers. Authors. Whatever. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your innermost feelings as a mirror for the rest of us.

    1. What a lovely comment. Thank you, Julia!

      When I click through on your name or link, I don’t see a blog, website or any other link that tells me about your book. What did you publish?

      I agree, it’s always our choice. But sometimes we need to both see other people stepping into their power or sharing that they are scared to for us to know that what we are feeling doesn’t mean we are imposters, right?

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Best – Wynne

    1. Yes! And for all our technology, great technical writers who can make innovation understandable and usable is a necessity! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. it’s a matter of your perspective on each situation. Anyways I’ve had this problem of comparing my self with other people and through reading this post gives me some insights of stepping out of my comfort zone. Much thanks to you Wynne

    1. What an insightful comment. Yes, that comparative thing we do complicates our self-perception! I like how you put it to step outside your comfort zone. Sending my best wishes for that! – Wynne

    1. A great way to put it – identity is complicated. And we face it again and again. I agree that we should all be leaning forward and stepping into something! Thanks for reading and commenting, Julia!

  4. I think people, myself included, have a hard time taking ownership of the things that they do because they enjoy them, especially if they don’t do them for pay or they haven’t reached a particular level of skill. I don’t feel like I can call myself a writer or a singer. I do and enjoy both of these activities, and I have at least a little bit of skill, but because I won’t win any contests and don’t do them for pay, I don’t feel as though I can describe myself as a writer or a singer.

    1. You make an interesting point, JYP. I sometimes feel the same thing about whether or not it is something I pursued education or training in. But I think even whether or not we pursue external validation, there is still value on owning the passions we pursue. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

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