Dating in NYC. AI generated image

I recently rejoined the online dating pool and one of the most ubiquitous sections – my job title – continues to stump me ever since I took a non-conformist career path. What’s my job title and what do I identify with? How do I want to be known?

“Freelance designer” could have easily been an option. It didn’t resonate with me though.
“Former art director” but that only speaks to my past.
“Semi-retired designer” or semi-unemployed depending on if one sees the glass half full or empty.

On one of my profiles, I went with:
Former traveler turned ceramicist
Ceramics is my current passion and my eagerness to spend money on traveling very much defines me.

On another profile, I wrote, “Aspiring Ceramicist.”
A few months ago, I attended Ricky Burrows solo art show opening in Chelsea and through a mutual friend, was introduced to the artist Rashid Johnson whose work is all over NYC. You might have interacted with his installation which features a wall of ceramic pots holding plants that serves as a mix between gateway and welcoming entrance to the Whitney Museum and its cafe.

When I met him, my friend introduced me as an “artist” to which I humbly added, “an aspiring artist.”
“You either are an artist or you aren’t,” Rashid responded. His words challenged me to look deeper within myself. Why have I been so fearful? I realized I had been prefacing with the word “aspiring” as a way to hide behind it. If I were only “aspiring,” I have an excuse not to be as driven or focused. If my work fails to capture attention, I can comfortably reason that I was only “aspiring.”

At the time, I wanted to be funny and responded with, “Ok, I’m a profitless artist.” I can’t recall if Rashid laughed.

Dating culture in NYC, or perhaps in all of America is brutal. People have limited time and are quick to make judgements. I am guilty of this. When I tell people I am semi-retired, I’m afraid they will think I’m posing as a rich millionaire (I am not even close). When my matches inevitably ask what I do for a living, I stutter and always ramble with a longwinded answer. Why do I always feel the need to mention that I used to be an Art Director? I’m afraid my matches will think I’m a poor street artist. How can I communicate quickly in one sentence that the path I’m walking now is a deliberate intentional choice?

While texting with a friend on the subject of dating recently, I lamented how undateable I must come across to which he suggested, “try this method and see what happens, ‘I’m an investor and artist.’” He continued, “that’s a good accurate answer… just gotta own it.”

I still struggle with the urge to qualify myself, but this post is an effort to rid my imposter syndrome.

I am an investor.
I am a ceramic artist.
I am a New Yorker who loves to travel.
I am rich with experiences.