They say you’re not something until X happens.

Tyler Strittmatter
Aug 5, 2016 · 2 min read

You’re not really an artist until…

You’re not really a musician until…

You’re not really a writer until…

You can’t call yourself a creator until…

Until what? What comes to your mind? Not really an artist until you make money? Until you can support a family and buy a house? Not really a musician until you know every scale? Until you have a certain number of fans? Not really a writer until your published? Until you can pay off your debts? You can’t call yourself a creator until you’re famous?

Seems like an issue of identity to me.

Truth is, you can call yourself whatever you want, whenever you feel like it. People make up titles for themselves all the time. I was watching a music documentary and under one guy’s name it said, “Cliff diving exploration expert.” I thought two things: 1. I want that and 2. He probably made it up.

I will say this however, there is something to the “until.” But it’s not money, or skill, or fame.

It’s failure.

In James Altucher’s article titled, “The only way to be the real deal,” a teacher says to Altucher, “You’re not really a DJ until you’ve cleared the room.”

He was perplexed by the statement and thought to himself, wouldn’t a DJ want the exact opposite?

His teacher was saying you’re not really a DJ until you fail. Taking that a step further, you’re not really anything until you fail and then decide to keep going.

This life is marked by struggle. It is categorized by overcoming and wrestling and battling. When you play a rough show as a musician, people might leave. That’s the risk. But if you give up and never play again, you might want to ask yourself a question about who you really are.

I’ll leave you with this: You are an artist and a creator, but is there something larger? Something that defines you better? Something that you can truly call, your identity.

Tyler Strittmatter

Written by

Journalist. Poet. Songwriter. Answering the question: What did the thousand words say to the picture?

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