Back when I was a freshman in high school I caught mono and missed several months of school. I ended up having a ton of makeup work to do, and part of that meant making up my gym classes. I had gym class first period and HATED it. I never wanted to get all sweaty first thing, and disliked changing in and out of my gym clothes each morning (I’m not sure any high school kid uses the showers after gym class?) In the end I never made up the classes and failed gym class. Yup, I failed gym.
For as long as I remember I was known as lazy and hated sports. I prefered reading to being outside, and never liked the competition of team sports. I played softball for 3 years in middle school only because all my friends did, and who would I hang out with if I didn’t play? I actually shared a position in the outfield with my best friend and never made much of an effort. When it came to gym class or sports, I just never enjoyed either the fake competition of say, ping-pong or basketball in gym, or cared much about winning games in sports. I ended up having to redo freshman gym as a senior and it was THE WORST. There is a story of my grandfather seeing me playing tennis and wondering if it was actually me because I was known as very un-athletic.
Fast forward to me today, at 38. I’m currently training for a half marathon, and workout at least 4-5 days a week at CrossFit. I am strong and healthy and actually CRAVE moving my body and going to the gym. Most of my current life revolves around working out, doing hard things with my body, and being as fit and healthy as I can be. In my eyes, all of my training is a huge part of who and what I am today.
Yet it is interesting to run across people you know from long ago. You know those people, the ones that knew you 10, 20, even 30 years ago and assume you are the exact same? They think of the girl from high school who failed gym and assume she is the same person. They say, “you’re running a half marathon? but that’s not the YOU we know.” Or, “you do CrossFit? Isn’t that really hard?” And then they look at you like you can’t possibly be doing what you say you do. Because you are the girl who failed gym once, right?
I think all the time, what if there hadn’t been a label put on me years ago (which I ADMITTEDLY perpetuated with a lot of self deprecation and really, added into the conversation all on my own), what if that label hadn’t existed? I think we all do that. We label our kids as shy, bossy, overactive, the “hard” one, the “easy” one. We stick this label on and assume it will always be so. We meet people and they end up being exactly who we tell ourselves they are. We are also the people WE say we are in the end.
I think about my mind-set now and how different it was back when I was that kids that failed gym class. I think about how much I love pushing myself now each day and, while I still don’t love group sports and competition, I adore competing against myself and seeing how I can push my body to do more. I have learned so much by working out consistently and being a part of the CrossFit community. I go there for the group camaraderie, the friendships, and being cheered on by a coach that knows how much you can do and won’t let you give up. I’ve learned that training for just about anything physical is 90% mental. My body does what I tell it it can do, and I think that is the best feeling in the world. I am NOT the same girl who failed gym class so many years ago, but I do hold love for her and who she would become. She just didn’t know yet what she was capable of.
I wonder, how much of your identity is something that was labeled for you by other people years ago? Are you holding on to a false image if yourself that is not even true? I’m pretty sure most people I know from at least 10 years ago would not have pegged me for a runner, or an avid CrossFitter, but you know what? It doesn’t matter what other people say you are or were. It matters what YOU say you are.
I’m all about shedding the identities that we have held on for so long in 2019. What else can we eliminate? What limiting beliefs and fears can we let go of?
I am setting big and scary goals and my first one is running a half marathon in two weeks. I couldn’t even run ONE MILE two months ago and the other day I ran NINE and it felt amazing. You can do so many amazing things, all you have to do is let go of the fears of not having done it yet. Set a goal, take the first baby step, and don’t look up again till it is done. Let’s let this year be the year you say, “I’m doing the things that scare me,” and don’t ever let other people try to tell you who you are or were. I believe in you and I believe in me. We can do this!
What are the labels you have been holding onto that you can shed? What no longer matches who you are today and no longer serves you? The thing is, people DO change and CAN change and you can be whoever or whatever you want, even of those around you may not recognize you.