What happens when a piece of your identity is taken away, called into question, or shown to be on much shakier ground that you previously thought? A few years ago, my nutrition coach turned life coach and dear friend, Hanna, asked me to list the different aspects of my identity. I remember the top of the list: P's wife, CrossFitter, fast runner, fitness "expert", someone who is very "into" health and wellness, someone with a good sense of humor, a good friend, a daughter, a sister, a dog mom.
When I think about it deeper though, what does it mean that I'm a wife? I don't think I had questioned it until the most recent affair. It means something different to me now, in this new relationship that we're building, than it did in the relationship before. I'd accepted that I contained multitudes and could be more than one thing - I embraced it! But the idea that the individual pieces of my identity were constantly shifting and evolving is a new concept. What it means to be a wife today isn't necessarily what it meant yesterday and could mean something completely different tomorrow.
Similarly, I've gone through many different iterations of my fitness identity. Over the past ten years, I've gone from running 50-60 miles a week and engaging in very little else by way of other training modalities, to running a few days a week and doing HIIT classes a few days a week, to labeling myself a full-on CrossFitter who only does CrossFit and only runs when it is prescribed in a CrossFit workout. Currently, I'm programming for myself again and getting in touch with what actually lights me up when it comes to fitness. I run 1-2 days a week, do bodybuilding-type strength 2 days a week, and metabolic conditioning ranging from 90 seconds of "oh my god I'm going to die" efforts to 20-30 minutes of sustained pace movement on my other training days. I aim for 10,000 steps per day but try to not get crazy or obsessive about it. I ride my bike as transportation or for enjoyment.
None of my previous identities were wrong or bad. They worked for me at that time and stage of my life. My current identity will change as well; maybe tomorrow or maybe in a few weeks or months. Along with prompting me to write out my identity, Hanna would often say "steady as she goes" when I was going through a transition or time of anxiety. I've adopted it as a mantra and apply it often. So when it comes to my identity, I'm allowing the changes to come and go. Steady as she goes.