I’ve always had a beef with Remy from Ratatouille. His mantra, “Anyone can cook,” is meant to be empowering, but I find it a bit discouraging. If anyone can cook, why should I bother? (I should note that as a Four in the Enneagram personality typing system, my greatest goal in life is to be THE special snowflake.)The idea that “anyone can write” is kind of paralyzing to me. There is so. much. content. already. What could I possibly contribute that hasn’t already been done? *cue impostor syndrome*

But if Remy believes anyone can cook, Smokey Bear is there to remind me that, “Only youcan prevent forest fires.” (Which has its own paralysis-inducing effects, but we’re going to completely ignore those neuroses for now.)

Anyone can write blog posts about productivity and apps. Anyone can figure out how MailChimp or WordPress works. Anyone (with some training) can write email sequences that convert. But only I can parent my kid. Only people like me who’ve been there can give advice on the unique challenges facing Asian American freelancers. Only Asian Americans can tell Asian American stories (with any degree of authenticity, ahem, Scarlett Johansson).

In everything, of course, we need balance. Yes, I have a unique responsibility to shepherd Asian American stories, which I do through my own blog and in my role as editor in chief of Mochi. But I also have to be a responsible steward of our family’s finances and quality of life. 

So I’ve settled on a third way between Remy the rat and Smokey Bear: Everyone has something to offer, and every piece of the puzzle matters. Whether I’m writing as a way to express myself or to pay bills, I’m forming my identity as a writer and hopefully leaving things better than I found them.

Are you listening to Remy or Smokey right now?