Have you ever told someone what you do and suddenly felt insecure about it? You know the feeling that makes you question who you are?
Moving forces you to tell people who you are. Constantly. Every time you meet someone the question of “What do you do?” eventually comes up and every time I say the same variation of words. “I’m a writer, filmmaker, and photographer” or “I’m a filmmaker, writer, and photographer” or “I’m a photographer, writer and filmmaker.” It always changes based on what we’ve talked about, but it’s always the same things. Recently though, when I’ve been saying it, I’ve felt like it isn’t true.
Obviously it is true because that’s what I do, but I feel like it isn’t who I am. I work as a writer, filmmaker, and photographer, but am I a writer, filmmaker, and photographer? I don’t know. Who’s to say? What makes you a writer? What makes you a filmmaker? Blah, blah, blah. You get it.
Here’s where I get into trouble: the more I say what I do, the more I believe it is who I am. My identity is getting wrapped up in these three words. Writer. Filmmaker. Photographer. It’s becoming all of me. Moreover, I think this might be one of the most dangerous places I’ve been in my life. When we base our identity and worth on what we do, our perception of who we are is directly based on our ability to perform and act. If I don’t write well today, I am not doing well today. If I don’t like the video I just made, I don’t like myself. If the photo doesn’t come out how I want it, it bleeds into the belief that my life isn’t coming out how I want it.
I don’t know about you, but I know I’m not good enough to bat 1000 every time I come to the plate in my own eyes. So if I have to rely on my ability to be perfect to be accepted as who I say I am, I’m in trouble, which leads me to this fraud feeling.
When we are defined by what we do and not who we are, it always leads to fraud. What we do must come out of who we are and can never be who we are. It will always lead us to emptiness.
So here I am. A fraud who’s changing. A fraud who’s learning. A fraud named Stewart Poindexter. I’m Stewart Poindexter, and I am who I am. I also happen to write, make films, and take pictures. I’m a lot better as myself then I am as a writer. You’re a lot better as you than what you do. We all are. Let’s focus on being ourselves a little more today.
Photo and Illustration by Andrew Baccam