Laura, not Lauren.
The year I was born, my name landed at 20 on the girls “Top Baby Names” list. For the decade overall, it came in at 23. It’s no surprise I’ve always known a lot of other Laura’s–they’ve been scattered throughout my life, some of my very best friends throughout the years. Laura’s sat next to me in class and at church, occupied the bottom bunk while I slept on the top bunk at summer camp, stood next to me as bridesmaids on my wedding day. One year there were so many Laura’s on staff at the summer camp I worked at that we got t-shirts made.
I was the only Laura in my first grade class–but my class contained three girls named Lauren (even more popular than Laura, coming in at #14). For some reason, my teacher thought it would be a brilliant idea to sit the four of us at a table together, and for the entirety of my first grade year, proceeded to call me Lauren.
I can’t stand being called Lauren. No offense to anyone actually named that–I have no issue with the name itself–but it’s not my name.
Being part of a pair or group of Laura’s is fun–we are connected by our name. We share something important. Being shoved into a group where I didn’t quite fit–where I was called a name that was just similar to my own–was not fun. It felt like a square peg in a round hole situation. I don’t remember now if I ever spoke up to remind my teacher that my name was actually Laura (and I don’t know that it would have mattered if I had). But every time she called me the wrong name, I felt itchy and uncomfortable in my own skin.
In a writing workshop I took about a year and half ago, we were asked to list some of our goals–where do you want to be in one year? Three years? Five? I thought hard and filled up my list with goals, and then at the very end, tacked on an “and” onto my five year goal.
“And feel confident introducing myself as a writer,” I added.
The instructor left a note back to me–”I’d encourage you not to wait five years to do this!”
This fall when I reopened that google doc to check in and see where I was on my goals, that note caught my attention.
In 2021, I took three writing workshops, and woke up early most days to write. I read 11 books specifically about writing* and started my own newsletter. I submitted pieces for publication. Some were rejected. Some were accepted. I even got paid for a couple of them! And yet.
Calling myself a writer still doesn’t come easily to me.
I enjoy writing, I might say. I want to write, I’ve said.
But: I am a writer?
I want to attach disclaimers all around.
I write as a hobby. Maybe one day, I’ll be a real writer.
The idea of saying it feels scary, but in a good way. Not the itchy, uncomfortable-in-my- skin way I felt being called the wrong name in first grade. More like the anticipation you feel when you are on a roller coaster, climbing a hill, and you can’t see what’s next, but you know there is some kind of a drop in front of you. The excited, butterflies feeling of embarking on a wild ride.
My word for 2022 is small. My goal is to keep taking small steps in the right direction.
And dropping the disclaimers and confidently adding writer to the list of things I am seems like a good place to start.
My name is Laura (not Lauren). And I’m a writer.
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series "A Name".
* Books I read about writing in 2021: Rumors of Water, Tell It Slant, The Artist’s Way, A Syllable of Water, On Writing Well, The Elements of Style, On Writing, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, Wired for Story, Writing Down the Bones, DIY MFA
**Book links are affiliate and will earn me a few pennies at no cost to you!