A baal teshuva is someone who is returning to Judaism. Since this is an on-going state that will apply for as long as you keep learning more and more, at what point can you stop labeling yourself as baal teshuva? Is there a point at which this happens or is it something that is and always will be your representation? At what point do you say “I am ‘there’, ‘religious’, ‘observant'”? Are those who are born into religious homes but who keep exploring and building themselves through Judaism also baal teshuva?
“Does the label matter?”, is the more significant of all these questions. At the end of the day we are all Jews and there are enough labels in our community to make the air very thick and sticky. It’s the old joke “but I can’t be like them“! This isn’t a Jewish concept – we are Klal Yisrael, one.
If we’re all trying to look for the authentic Judaism and all working on ourselves to be the best we can be then whether you were born into ‘it’ or have become ‘it’ is irrelevant. The point is that you should never ‘be’ but always ‘becoming’, no matter at what point you started. Judaism is about growth, about fulfilling and exceeding potentials. It’s about focusing on becoming the best you can be for others instead of as an end goal for yourself. It’s about supporting those who are different in where they are now because tomorrow they may have become something more. Everyone has potential. Rely only on yourself and Hashem to reach it, for others’ support is only a bonus, not a mandate.
Know that you are happy with where you are now but work to always be a baal teshuva.