Recently, I had the privilege of kicking-off the New Year with Christine Hassler’s Goal Setting and Guided Meditation Workshop at the beautiful Levo League loft in Manhattan. My post-workshop reaction: Bring it on, 2013!
Among the many personal insights I gained from Christine’s workshop, I stumbled upon one that applies directly to former college athletes turned career women. If you are not a former athlete, I hope you do not stop reading here, because as I got to thinking, I realized this little lesson applies way beyond my student-athlete life. This is your fair warning to brace yourselves, Levo Leaguers, because I am feeling enlightened and this blog is about to get deep. Let’s do this!
During one exercise, Christine asked us to do a “review” of the past year. We looked back at where we were, mentally and emotionally, on January 1, 2012 and fast-forwarded our lives to this past New Year’s Eve. We then wrote down our blessings, lessons learned, and loose ends that still needed to be resolved from 2012.
To bring you up to speed, my 2012 could be called The Year of My Identity Crisis. I no longer played college softball, but watched helplessly as the next season rolled around, unfazed, without me. I accepted a scholarship for additional study at my university and found myself hovering awkwardly under the category of “undergraduate student who had already graduated.” Eventually, I stuffed my entire life into two suitcases and lugged them all the way from Colorado to New York City to start my career climb from the bottom of the totem pole. All the while, I felt confused in who I was without the things that had defined me for so long.
Clearly the old “identity crisis” story isn’t just my own, judging by the countless movies, books and quotes on Pinterest about the journey to find ourselves. If I could pin the biggest lesson I learned from 2012, it is this: You cannot define yourself by things that can be stripped away from you. As athletes, we grow alongside our sports and learn to see ourselves by the game-winning hits, the missed free-throws, or the title as captain of our teams. But now, as we’ve replaced our jerseys with stylish pencil skirts and head out into the real world, we must remember that the title of “captain” is not what defines us; it is the qualities we have that make us who we are. It just so happens that at one time, you were applying those qualities to leading a team.
So here is my challenge to you, whether you are an athlete, sorority member, intern or CEO: As you take on the year ahead, do not allow your image of yourself to be defined by job titles or labels, because there is a pretty good chance that at some point in your life, that label will be removed or no longer apply. Instead, define yourself by the things that you can control and that have helped you reach those achievements: your character, your passions, your kindness, intelligence or humor. Be committed and engaged in your responsibilities, but be able to see yourself outside of them.
Here’s hoping that our 2013 Review includes lots of great successes and memories, because that “Identity Crisis” is so last year.
Have you gone through an identity crisis? What did you learn from it? Tell us in the comments!