I have always struggled with what I call myself, especially in professional settings. Whether it be my herbal work or my full-time job, it is always uneasy to navigate. For me, it has always been more comfortable to say ‘I do…’ rather than ‘I am…’.Maybe it’s insecurity, minimal self-esteem, or simply a lack of comfortable words that resonate; whatever it is, it’s difficult.
One of the most courageous and difficult things we do is to proclaim ‘I am…”.
No, you don’t have to call yourself an herbalist. For some, including myself, establishing the title of herbalist brings on a blend of insecurity and resistance. In our minds credientals seem paramount and if we haven’t taken a class with the biggest name, we feel we must not have any knowledge of value. We see national book authors and brick-and-mortar store owners with countless bottles of earth medicine brewing and it feels appropriate that ‘those’ are the herbalists. Yes, but also no.
For me, the question ‘why?’ is most important when exploring herbalism. Why are you engaging in herbalism? Herbalism cannot be self-serving. I am often frustrated and disheartened when I see herbalism being exploited or used to serve ones ego. Yes, it is wonderful herbalism is becoming more mainstream; however, that makes us all vulnerable to knock-offs, imposters, and the self-serving looking to make a buck. Yes, many of us have herbal businesses but I whole-heartily believe that we should do so for the purpose of making herbalism accessible and better utilized for all of those we connect with.
Even if calling yourself an herbalist is not comfortable, it is still important to engage with the herbal community and share your experiences. Herbalism needs new voices more now than ever. Most people out in the public eye of herbalism tend to be white women. While there’s nothing wrong with white women practicing herbalism (myself included), this cannot be the only voice in the room. We are all responsible for creating safe space for anyone and everyone to connect with the divine healing magick of herbalism.
There is also sentiment that to be an herbalist it has to be your only job. We all need to maintain basic needs and many of us are responsible for providing for our families. This does not cheapen or dilute your vitality and commitment to herbalism, if anything, it strengthens it and show others that herbalism has a place in everyone’s life.
So, what’s the point I’m trying to make?
You are exactly who you are and how you identify. It’s not for anyone else to condone, assess, or critique. Use the words you are comfortable with and know that that they may change over time or evolve. Be yourself only for the purpose of being you. Do what you love, what you connect to, what brings you joy. When we release the confinement of titles, we allow ourselves to explore and find our place. We grow, find excitement, embrace enthusiasm, leverage learning, and communicate confidence. If stating ‘I am…’ resonates with you, go for it! If you’re not in the place of “I am…”, honor where you are and know it’s exactly where you are supposed to be, even if just for this moment.
In love and light, Kristen