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Be Who You Are Not

It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not. — Denis Waitley


This one twangs me in all the right ways.

One of the hurdles to becoming a writer is identifying yourself as a writer.

“I’m a writer.”

It sounds so pretentious.

But until you can identify yourself as a writer, you’re just a hobbyist. A dabbler. A person with a day job who writes for fun. (Or frustration. Or both. That’s the writing life.)

But the moment you own your ambition and say, “I’m a writer,” you become a writer with a day job. And the moment you take yourself seriously enough to call yourself a writer, you are going to take the writing more seriously in order to live up to the title. And when you start taking the work seriously, rewards are more likely to follow.

I’m using writing as an example, since it’s what I know. But this very fine quote has infinite applications.

For example, I was not taught to be a kind person. It took me a long time to realize this, but when some horrid things I’ve said in the distant past were repeated back to me in the recent past, I was ashamed and appalled. It was the first time I’d ever thought of myself as unkind. That is not who I want to be.

A little self-reflection helped me understand where my unpleasant prickliness came from, and here is where I met the fork in the road. Do I decide that I am not a kind person, or I do identify myself as a kind person and start trying to live up to it?

I’m taking a shot at the latter. It’s not a straight path and I stumble a little too often, but I’m working on it. Rather than an unkind person, I try to think of myself as a kind person who says crappy things sometimes. Hopefully, if I work hard, I’ll leave unkind me far behind someday.

I am a kind person. And a writer. More the latter than the former, but I’m a work in progress.

My book, The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released December 4, just in time for party/festive/family-togetherness season.

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Photo by Laura Chifiriuc via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Be Who You Are Not

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APA Reference
Dembling, S. (2012). Be Who You Are Not. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 25, 2019, from


Last updated: 7 Aug 2012
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