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On "Aspiring"

Updated: Feb 18, 2019

My offensive line coach during my one year of high school football had a saying:

"Potential means you haven't done shit yet."

I'm not sure what he precisely meant by this, but the way I interpret it some twenty-plus years later is that often times, thinking too much about what could be in some beautiful future can be counter productive. The only way we ever get to that future is by getting to work.

And so, we come to how much I hate the word "aspiring" as used to modify the nouns writer, artist, musician, etcetera, etcetera. Kindergarteners who haven't yet mastered the skill necessary to string together sentences are aspiring writers. Everyone else is just afraid, lazy or some combination of the two.

If you want to be a writer, write.

If you want to be an artist, make art.

If you want to be a musician, make music.

Yes, the word aspiring gives you a shield. If anyone criticizes you, you can always reply: "Whoah there! I know I'm not that good! I said I was still aspiring!" But who cares what those people think? In my experience, the people who actually know anything about writing/ art/ music/ whatever respect those who aren't afraid to put in the time and then put their work out there, imperfect as it may be.

So maybe you're a mediocre musician. Or an unpublished writer. Or an artist who doesn't make a penny from their paintings. Maybe you're just flat out bad. But aspiring? Hell no. If you're doing the thing, then you're the real deal. It's time to start acting that way.


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