Refusing labels

Labels are fast and easy to stick on somebody and sometimes you have to do what society expects you to do and accept a label to quickly describe activities you are involved with.

That said, I reject people’s attempts to put me in any bucket.

These are some of the questions I get all the time:
  • Are you a photographer?
  • Are you an engineer?
  • Are you an artist?
  • Are you a democrat?
  • Are you republican?
  • Are you a woodworker?
  • Are you a woodcarver?
  • Are you a cook?
  • Are you XYZ … where XYZ is whatever “thing” I happen to be doing with a relative sense of passion and skill.

The truth is that I am part of all of these things, and none of them alone. I am a combination of the stuff I do and each skill I learn helps me with my understanding of all others skills. That does not mean that I am universally married to any of these trades/skills.

Just because I love making art I refuse to be labeled as “artist” as a singularity and description of what I am.  I am not starving, I make a good living in software engineering, I do not wear funny clothes and I do not go around doing “crazy artist” things if that’s what you mean with “artist”.

Just because I spent 30 years writing software, you can’t identify me simply as “an engineer” since I do many other things. I do not spend 22 hours a day only thinking about engineering software, even though everything I do has that slant infused into it.

Just because I agree with some things that democrats say, I can’t be called “a democrat” because I also agree with some things that republicans say, and disagree with many things that both parties say too.  I can almost hear it: “you are an independent then”. I am that too now? Not really, because if you take other people that claim to be “independent” they’d probably disagree with me a lot.

Am I a “reader” because I read books? Or “writer” because I write on this blog? How do you answer that question? The only way to answer is “yes” and “no”, at the same time.  I am all of these things, and none of them. I am NOT any of the things I do, even if I do them with a passion. I am also all of these things at once, and I apply the knowledge acquired in all of these fields to anything I do.

Green is not blue OR yellow, is a combination of the two and neither of them. Also there is not just one green, there are many shades of it and mine changes all the time and morphs into non-green colors as well.

When I build software, it helps me think about how furniture is built. When I sketch a software diagram, I use the drawing experience I gained drawing on my sketchbooks. When I write on this blog, I use what I learned reading books.  When I take photographs, I learn about composition and then I use that in my drawings. When I put up xmas lights on my house, I optimize the lights based on thinking I learned while writing code. When I dissect a form into basic shapes for sketching, I use the problem solving skills I learned to solve engineering problems or to design woodworking projects.

It is all related, all necessary and I am none of these things in isolation.