How do you identify yourself? What makes you, you? I am a wife, teacher, and weight lifter.
Recently I have struggled a bit with feeling like I lost a part of my identity and worrying that this loss was problematic. For years, I would have identified myself as a runner. Running was extremely important in me. After facing some hardships in high school, I joined the track team and found a love of running. Running became my outlet: the thing I did when I was upset or stressed, the way I coped when life felt overwhelming. As my passion for running grew, so did the distance I ran. I ran a couple of half marathons and loved the way that running made me feel. I felt that running made me a better me. But then I stopped running.
I stopped running frequently around the same time that I moved in with my husband. I worried: Was I losing myself? I spent time reflecting on why I wasn’t running anymore. I didn’t want to accept that I wasn’t a runner. I forced myself to go for runs and spent time researching training plans and races, hoping that I would become motivated to run again. Last summer I came back from a 7 mile run and thought to myself, “well, that sucked.” After that run, something inside me said: Don’t run if you don’t enjoy it anymore; it’s that simple. I slowly began to realize that losing my identity as a runner had nothing to do with losing myself in my relationship. I simply did not enjoy running as I once had. One of the main factors in this loss of interest has to do with my location. During the years I loved running most, I was a college student at a beautiful campus ideal for running. Now I live in a nice town, but the area around my home is not scenic and has a very steep hill. I sometimes enjoy running, but I often do it because I feel like I should.
I have been coming to terms with the fact that running is no longer a part of my identity. Just because I don’t identify myself as a runner anymore doesn’t mean that I’ve lost myself. I have a stronger sense of who I am now more than ever before. I am so passionate about teaching and I have also become obsessed with weight lifting. When I lift weights, I feel strong physically and emotionally. Weight lifting has increased my confidence and it helps me to appreciate my body for all that it can do. I have found new passions and accepted new identities.
Sometimes we change and that is okay. I know many people struggle with accepting a change in their identity. For example, maybe you always dreamed of becoming a doctor, but midway through medical school, you realize that you don’t want to be a doctor anymore. While I can imagine that coming to this sort of realization would be very challenging, I know that it is better to be honest with yourself and to spend your life doing what you love rather than forcing yourself to do what you’ve always done. Accept yourself for who you are.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss