“It's usually not just a single experience, but rather a series of moments that bruise the spirit and lead us to distrust ourselves and those around us and then we wake up at age 17 or 25 or 87 and we realize we don't know the last time we've lived life only to please ourselves.” - Alicia Keys, More Myself
This has been something I’ve struggled with throughout my collegiate career. In high school it was easy to be the gymnast because I knew I still had another chapter left in my sport. However, once I got to college, I knew my time was slowly dwindling down, and I wanted to savor every second of it. With injury after injury, Covid-19 ending the 2020 season early, and my decision to graduate early, I had essentially cut my time left with the sport in half. I will always regret not always smiling more in the gym. I think once I realized how little time I had left, I started focusing much more on doing my best physically, and didn’t place as much emphasis on enjoying it anymore. But, here we are, and my gymnastics career is over, it’s time to move on. That’s when I came across this question, “what really defines me?” I’m not a gymnast anymore. I’ve struggled to figure out who I am and what I want to do. I started out not wanting to workout at all anymore, and then quickly flipped to “I must workout twice a day, everyday” because I still felt the pressure to maintain my strength. I’m starting to realize now though that this is the first time I don’t have to report to anyone anymore. Everything I do now, is only for me, so why not try to find new things to define myself with. Maybe things that don’t relate to physical appearance or what I’m doing? Maybe I should try to define myself with positive characteristics, instead of filling myself with negatives and hate. I’ve always been told to smile more, and I think I should start with that. What makes me smile? I have learned I love being outside and just walking, around talking to people. Being surrounded by new people and getting to know them makes me smile. Maybe I want to be the friendly one? Maybe I want to be the fun one? Maybe I’m the outdoorsy type? It doesn’t really matter to be honest, as long as I’m happy. I’m doing this for me, everything is for me. That sounds selfish, but I think that’s the key to figuring yourself out.