"I am an athlete!"
One of my first Crossfit coaches, CJ, always had a unique way of taking roll before class. Sometimes he would ask us to point to our most sore muscles (glutes were usually the muscle group of choice). Sometimes he would have us pick our favorite music genre (which was never taken into consideration when he chose the music for the day's WOD - reggae and punk made it in the circulation the most.) One of the more memorable classes began, at CJ's request, to repeat a mantra when he called our names: "I am an athlete."
Some of us said it quietly, mumbling the words as we rubbed the 6:45am crust from our eyes. Some of us confidently spoke the words with full consideration of the power behind them. One athlete spoke the words with such sincerity, as though she had never considered herself an athlete before that very moment, despite her continuous presence at the box morning after morning. But this mantra brought to light a very important lesson that, two years later, still holds true. Identity can never been stripped or taken away despite changing circumstances. To put it simply, you have the power to determine who you are.
I have been through a drastic transformation the past six months that has taken me to the other side of the country, uprooted my life and everything I knew, and placed me in the most unknown and unknowable. Since this drastic shift, I have had to step back and reassess the meaning of identity, wrestle with the call to seek a new path, and understand the importance of trust in taking the next step in the unknown and unknowable. As you might assume, one can lose one's self in the process.
In the past six months, I have tried to fit my old life into my new one. I have struggled to maintain my training, prep food, and come up with new recipes, all while trying to find my people, carve a new schedule, and adapt to a new way of living. It has been a challenge I never anticipated. But in this uncomfortable transition, I have tightly gripped the mantra my coach CJ has us repeat at that one class that one morning two years ago: I am an athlete.
Circumstances may change, people may leave, you might be shaken up and out of your place of comfort. But you always have the power to determine who you are. That little nagging voice in the back of your head, that little gut check, will constantly remind you. Of course, you can always choose to go on a different path and abandon a previous identity that no longer serves a purpose. But when you are not ready to give up the person you once were, when you are struggling to hold on to the person you love, when you are your greatest advocate, when all of the external constructs are stripped away and you still hold true to your identity, that is when you'll know who you really are. Among other identifiers, I am an athlete. Who are you?