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  • Patrick Scott Patterson

Don't Tell Me Who I Am.

Updated: Oct 5

It was the fall of 2017. I arrived in Portland for my latest convention appearance at an event I had always wanted to be part of. I got off the plane, got my bag, hopped on the trolley that took me to my hotel and checked in.


Got to my room. Flipped on SportsCenter. Laid out my clothes and toiletries and made fists with my toes.


"Only four days until I get to go home," I said to myself.


And it was then that I realized.




I didn't feel that way in the past. I'd strut into conventions all across the country, eager to get to work. To meet and even work with so many of my personal heroes. To put my passions on display for people who shared them. Sometimes, when an event ended, I wasn't ready to go yet. I wanted more.


But apparently that had changed by Portland. So I listened to myself. I honored the rest of my personal appearance bookings and declined to take on any others. I was out.


People thought there must have been some monumental shift on the planet's axis when I said that. Something must have happened, right? There must be some elaborate backstory.


But there wasn't. It was simply time for me to move on to other challenges. I said something to myself without realizing I'd felt that way, and I decided to listen to it.


Too many people define others by what they do, rather than who they are. So when that person decides they want to do something new, it doesn't compute. Some even get mad about it, as if that person's decision wasn't theirs to make.


It's not the first time I experienced it, either. Years before this, I'd often write feature articles online, mostly about video gaming with a short adventure into sports writing as well. At one point in time, I was freelancing for over a dozen websites and magazines all at the same time.


But it was never something I wanted to do. It was something I had to do to make ends meet during a time of professional transition. The Great Recession had kneecapped what I had been doing, the company I went to work for after that didn't quite work out, and I had a new child at home. I knew I *could* write for a living, I just hadn't wanted to.


So when people who came to know me as a "writer" saw me aiming for new, more lofty goals they revolted. I was told to stay in my lane... even that I was selfish or arrogant for thinking I could be a peer to them rather than the guy who wrote ABOUT them.


But that wasn't on me. That was on humanity's habit of defining people by their jobs or what they did when they first encountered those people. People love to categorize other people like inventory in a 90s indie record store, and honestly, it's a filthy habit.


Nobody owes you an explanation if they feel the need to pivot. To take on new challenges. And no, you don't get to tell them they "should" go back to doing what YOU deem they are "supposed" to do.


People have the right to do whatever they choose. Sometimes, what they were doing no longer works for them. If that doesn't fit in with what you think they are, that's your problem, not theirs.

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