Forget What It Is Called

Whenever we hear "I'm an aspiring X," it should call for skepticism. To me it's a tell that X is probably not that person's calling. That they place value on the label—or the valuing of the label—as supposed to the craft itself.

I think we tend to know what we're supposed to do, it's just that oftentimes we don't like the answer. Sometimes, the answer is uncomfortably inconvenient, and maybe not as trendy as we'd like. So we replace it with something more culturally acceptable.

But even if X happens to be our life's purpose, this kind of aspirational signaling remains dysfunctional. You're demonstrating a level of self-awareness required for acknowledging how you're not yet where you seek to be, whilst—ironically—not being self-aware enough to realize that this is what you're actually doing. It tries to signal ambition by leeching off a label's authority, which is really more parasitic than it is ambitious. And it's an attempt at signaling humility through the previously mentioned, halting self-awareness—but to no avail! since premature declaration is the opposite of humility, no matter the prefix. All doublethink aside, truth is we seldom achieve aspirations with our eyes fixed on the label. This should be enough reason to stay out of signaling hell.

Label anxiety seems particularly prevalent in creative fields, where qualifications are vague. Never would anyone call themselves an "aspiring MD"—you either are one, or get away from the operating table! Whereas, the labels "actor," "painter," and "musician" are a lot more ambivalent. But here lies freedom. Why call yourself an aspiring writer when you can simply write?

Language, how troublesome. But what does it matter? what it is called. If it makes you happy, do it now. Picasso couldn't have cared less if you called him a painter, sculptor, or artist. He just did his thing, and so should we.