And if it's all dicking around and nothing is "catching", the only way to evaluate it is based on how good I am at it and how much I do it. I am an artist in that I very occasionally create a piece of art. I am a designer in that I often design things. I am an comic actor in that I occasionally am in plays and they're usually comedies. I am a writer in that I write things. I am a housewife in that I keep house. I am an entrepreneur in that I have a business that still makes some money. I am maybe a cartoonist in that I've drawn cartoons, but I haven't in quite some time. None of these things feels any more "real" than the other. None of them seems to make a definitive "what I am."
I've spent a lot of my life "talking up" my modest accomplishments to make them seem important... usually more important than they were:
"Cartoonist A.V. Phibes began publishing her comics in underground zines*, and soon grew an enthusiastic internet following!**"
"Artist A.V. Phibes has done illustrations for Penguin Publishing, Andrews McMeel and Steve Madden Inc!*** She has had 3 solo shows of her work and recieved a jury prize from the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival.****"
"Entrepreneur A.V. Phibes founded Evilkid Productions, a six-figure art licensing business***** that had products in Target, Spencer Gifts and Hot Topic!"
"Sideshow Performer A.V. Phibes has performed all over new york in venues such as the Slipper Room, The Cutting Room and Webster Hall, she also spent time on tour with the Modern Gypsies!******"
"Actress/comedian A.V. Phibes has appeared in two off-broadway comedies!"
Hell, even writer A.V. Phibes "has been blogging since 2001, been published in the Audacity Productions "In the Works" anthology******* and her one-act play "Grading on a Curve" has been staged in in the US and Hong Kong. Her work has been described by the the Dallas Morning News as "quite funny" and having "...lots of garrulous, good lines..."
And all of this feels like just anecdotal "stuff I did." None of it feels like I was doing it "for real" (except maybe the entrepreneur bit). Most of this was "dicking around." As I've told people before: "The key to having an exciting life is omission. Omit everything except the exciting parts."
I still don't have the sense that I'm doing what I ought to with my life. And so that's how I came about to my previous thoughts: Since most of my credentials seem tenuous, if not borderline bullshit, do credentials even matter? Shouldn't we just consider what we're good at? And how do we even discern what we're good at? I was successful as an artist more because I am good at spotting cultural trends, organization and cultivating connections than because I am good at art.
I think it's time to re-evaluate what it means to "do" something or "be" something.
**In 1996 when there weren't that many people on the internet
***Totally got this job because of nepotism
****Third place, and even that's debatable since it says on the site that someone else was 3rd place
*****A month in Alabama, and that when they were a ragtag sideshow troupe and not the "spectacle entertainment." phenom they are today.
******Earned barely over $100,000 for one year.
*******Published by my college buddy at kinkos