Today, I read an excellent article about hypersomnia and by the end of it, I was really eager to find out who had written it. There it was at the bottom of the page - Virginia Hughes, science editor. Those two words 'science editor' stood out like a beacon in the dark. I was intrigued. Who exactly is a science editor? Is she a scientist or a journalist? I Googled Virginia Hughes and found that she had an impeccable profile - a bachelors in neuroscience from no less than Brown University (an Ivy League institution) and a masters in science writing from The John Hopkins University. Did you even know that one can get a masters degree in 'science writing'? I didn't. Her professional record was even better, spanning names such as Discovery and National Geographic and displaying a steady ascent up the corporate ladder. How does someone achieve such an exceptional level of what I define as success? (I believe one is successful when one is the best or one of the best in one's field). No doubt, Hughes must be really intelligent but what sets me thinking more, is how certain she must have been on what she wanted to do in life. She liked science. She was a good writer. There were a million options before her. But she had the knack of bringing a passion and a skill together to produce a career that would probably never ever bore her. Can you say the same about the profession you're engaged in? Me, I am where I want to be, but I guess I'm too much of a generalist. Maybe you are, too. And so, say what you will, but labels are so intoxicating. And if you can't label who you want to be, how can you even get there?
Corporate writer. Travel blogger. The second I embellished my profile with these labels, I felt better. I felt more purposeful and clearer about who I was and where I was going. If you want to achieve a goal, you have it to be able to put a label on it. Award-winning novelist. Does that sound pretentious? It does to me too, but it also absolves me from wasting my time on penny press fiction. Because I know that's not what I'm aiming at. If I'd said I want to be a best-selling novelist, the direction of my efforts would vary. I've been writing travelogues ever since I began travelling. But it was only when I felt confident enough to call myself a 'travel blogger' that I actually realised how much I enjoyed the activity and how committed I was to it. As a bonus effect, associating myself with the label increases my commitment to it even more. No you can't be an 'avid reader' if all you read is one book in three months. Label yourself but find a label that really means something to you; find one that aptly defines the person you dream of being. Find it, and do your very best to make it your own. Be someone.
P.S.: Labelling yourself on the basis of your beliefs and preferences (such as religion) will do little to make you a success. We're talking about action-oriented labels here.
I write on travel at Trail-stained Fingers. Feel free to get in touch through the website or connect on Facebook or Twitter.