Instead of “Philosophy is X”, try “This is the kind of philosophy I find interesting.” In place of essentializing, affirm your own preferences.
Doesn’t this make philosophy subjective? Just a matter of whatever anyone wants it to be? What if one says, “Philosophy is cooking”, or “Philosophy is gibberish”? Surely, these are objectively wrong?
Why surely? And why do we need it to be wrong, let alone objectively so?
I don’t breathe because breathing is good. If someone says, “Breathing is over-rated”, do I need to prove him wrong to feel confident in my breathing?
I breathe because I do. I don’t end my life because I don’t want to. To live I don’t have to show dying is wrong. Or Suicide is a mistake. We don’t choose by eliminating every alternative. We don’t have to.
In order to think how I want, I don’t need to fit it into a category first (philosophy, analytic philosophy, religious philosophy, spirituality), then defend that category against objections (why “religious philosophy” is not an oxymoron), and then – having secured the foundation – go on to think that way.
Courage is required to say: I do this because I want to. I am open to objections, but not constrained by them. I give others the same freedom I take in pursuing my path. I wish well those who choose a different path. And when we try to reach the same audience, may each try their best – and people respond as they will.