Near the end of September, in the middle of the tapper for my first half marathon, I encountered an identity crisis. After feeling, seeing, doing, and accomplishing so many amazing things in the span of four months, I was hit by a brick wall of awakening. I call this awakening, because it felt like I had been woken up from a great dream to a bleak reality. The kind of thing that makes you stop dead in your tracks because the thought of who you are is lost.
Six weeks later and I am still trudging through this identity crisis. Clearly this is not a quick thing to get over or go through. Though it has been a process, I have begun to realize a few things and process what this feeling really is. One thing I realize is that I have people identifying me as a runner/athlete/fitness person. If you should know anything about me, it is that before April of this year, I was NONE of these things. Yes, I would go run a bit here and there because I enjoyed it or I would do a random sporting activity with a group of friends, but I was no where near an athlete, runner, or fitness junkie. Maybe I was a runner, but I was the type of runner who would only run when everything “felt right”. In middle and high school I was the kid who was trying to get out of doing things in gym or doing the bare minimum in the sports I played. I had no desire to do anything fitness related in college. I participated in my first 5k because it was an event I put on for work my senior year of college. I was nothing near an athlete or fitness inspired person.
After college and into grad school I would occasionally go walk/jog around my neighborhood to process the many different things happening in my life. Nothing was set to a schedule or consistent, just simply as something to do to clear my head when my life was crazy. In November of 2014 I had a realization that I needed to make a change in my life. Being 275 pounds and living a life I did not enjoy was weighing down on me and I needed to put an end to it. I signed up for a 2 month wellness challenge group with someone I followed on Instagram and started a health journey on December 9, 2014. I only began thinking about trying to run at the end of the first month when I participated in a group challenge to do a 5k over a weekend. And after that weekend I only kept trying to run to gain worth from someone else. And somehow two years, an injury, and many races later, I am a runner who runs for pure joy of running. People I know look at me and say “you are a runner,” or “you are so dedicated to fitness,” or “you are an inspiration to me,” and it blows my mind. How did I become an inspiration to someone just by doing something as simple as running? Do these people not realize that I am not that inspiring? Do they realize that I am not fast or that some days I just don’t want to run?
Another realization in my identity crisis is that my physical body has gone through a drastic change over the last two years. I have lost over 50 pounds, I no longer recognize myself in pictures, and I am constantly shocked by what I see in a mirror. When I started my health journey, I read a few blogs from people who had lost a significant amount of weight. Each one of them talked about what it was like to not recognize themselves in the mirror or believe the size they actually were. Of course, I read these blogs thinking it would never happen to me… and yet here we are! Maybe I should stop saying never, because it seems to have the opposite effect on me.
I realized today that a small part of me will not accept the current physical state of my body because it is waiting for it to revert back to how it was. Every time I step on a scale I think I will look down to see it read a higher number than it actually says. My mind just can’t fathom the reality of what size I actually am. The crazy thing about all this is, in order for me to revert back to the size I was two years ago, I would have to undo hundreds of habits and choices that I have made. So in all reality, I need to realize that who I am currently is not going to change.
Another part of me is upset with how this process makes others view me. I am constantly given comments by people about how “skinny” I look or have comments made about my weight loss. Don’t get me wrong, weight loss is great and all, but I do not want to be told I look skinny, or good, or any other comment people feel they can make about my body. I am not doing this to look a certain way or to gain these ridiculous comments from people. I started this journey to gain my health back, weight loss is just a side effect. I want people to tell me that I look strong, that I look healthy, or that I look happy and joyful. I want our society to realize that being beautiful is not being a certain size or weight. Being beautiful is about who you are as a person. I was beautiful two years ago and I am beautiful today, I just don’t physically look the same.
In all honesty, I think that this identity crisis is something that will be around for a while, in some way, and at times it will be minimal and at other times it will be to big to handle. I am forever grateful to the tribe that stands behind me and consistently reminds me that I am still the same person I have always been. They are the ones that let me ramble on about various things and always encourage me to push through. They remind me that as a person I have not changed and still have my foundation of identity. I just have added a few extras that are a bit harder to accept, but with time they will be added to my ever growing identity.
Until next time friends!