I was defeated this week. Or at least… my mind was.
The morning after a night of sand volleyball (following a very long hiatus from my favorite sport), an old knee injury came back to haunt me. I spent 2 weeks icing, resting, and popping ibuprofen to ease the swelling and pain. Finally, I could no longer ignore that there might actually be a problem, and saw my knee doctor.
I got my answer: Early arthritis in my knee due to the previous injury and reconstructive surgery.
I could keep doing what I was doing and completely ruin my knee, or I could lay off the twisting/jumping sports and stick to the simple stuff that would help it last longer.
I should have been jumping for joy! No surgery. No shots. No “stop doing anything” speech. All I had to do was stop playing volleyball.
But I did not feel excited. I felt defeated. And honestly, it took me a few days of deep thought to really figure out what my big problem was.
Because being good at volleyball had become some deep part of my identity. Being able to pull my “good volleyball skills” out at a moment’s notice became something I was proud of. I liked being good at it, and I liked that others saw I was good at it.
Sounds a bit self-indulgent, huh? It is, but it is also the truth.
I have taken some time to realize how this was affecting me, and how this whole identity thing might need to change for me to feel successful moving forward.
I had 2 choices: I could hold on to this identity with a death grip and feel defeated or defiant, or I could redefine my identity and choose to move forward.
I choose #2. I am shifting my identity with volleyball. I no longer want to believe, “It is part of who I am to be great at volleyball. I want to show other people so I can feel validated.”
So moving forward, I’m going to do my best to tell myself and others this statement:
“I love volleyball, but I choose not to play it anymore because I want to save my body for other cool experiences in life. Volleyball is not who I am, nor does it define my ability in life. It is just a sport I used to play.”
I’m sure some people could feel that shifting your original identity about something might be un-natural or fake, but I beg to differ. If there is something you have defined about yourself that holds you back or keeps you upset, what is the harm in trying to identify it… and then shift it? Just a smidge.
And honestly, haven’t we all done this throughout our entire lives, whether we realized it or not?
- Parts of my identity before kids included: traveling/working internationally a lot, working out 5-6 days/week, snowboarding 15+ times each season, swearing I’d never live in the suburbs, and seeing friends constantly. Let’s just say that ALL of those have shifted a bit.
- A big part of my identity used to be not trying hard with my wardrobe or feminine appearance per se. That has shifted in the last year, because I got sick of feeling frumpy all the time.
- And on, and on.
Do you have any deep-seeded identities that might be holding you back? Maybe it’s your view of money, work, or relationships. Maybe it’s a self-defeating thought about yourself that you need to let go of.
Whatever that little part is that might be trying to defeat you, see if you can face it head on and shift it to work in your favor.