i have an identity? i have an identity!

I read the other day that the more things that make up our identity, the less stressful it is when any one thing is threatened. It got me thinking. I used to feel, and sometimes still do on an off-day, that I have nothing. No hobbies, no interests, nothing new, nothing to write home about. I thought about running, how I began running years ago as a weight loss tool, then ended up loving the training. Any time I'd extend my distance, or quicken my pace, I'd be over the moon about it. It was something cool that I did because I wanted to, and not because someone I knew did it. I ran my first half marathon. I was on cloud nine. I had been anxious and excited leading up to that time, and had trained like crazy. I'd run between 7 and 8 miles, several times a week and then longer runs on Saturdays. It began to feel like it wasn't even work. I felt great. My half marathon was awesome. I was more than happy with my time and I felt strong from mile one through the finish line. I've run the half each year since then, and my first time was the best, my first race was the best. Since then, my times have slowed, my training has been more forced. At most, I added over 24 minutes to my slowest race. I keep hoping to feel that initial excitement again, to get to a point where running feels effortless again, but it never quite lives up.

This spring, as I was running my sixth half, I was frustrated that it felt so arduous. I did it. I finished in 1:19, I didn't walk. I "slow and steadied" my way through 13.1 miles. During the run, I asked myself why I was there. I was proud of myself for being able to do it, but I wasn't really enjoying it. I admitted to myself that the driving factor was probably simply that I had been doing git for so long, and didn't really have a good reason not to. I also admitted that, knowing me as well as I do, that the year I didn't do the race, I would never pick it back up. So why keep doing it? Just so I could say I did? So people would be proud of me? Because it was one "thing" I had that was noteworthy? Because if I quit, "people"  would know I couldn't do it anymore? That I was weak or wimping out? I told myself I would make it to ten races, then find something else to do. Ten is a good solid number. Then I groaned inwardly at the thought of doing four more. At some point it occurred to me - I didn't have to do anything! Nobody was making me. The only expectations we have to live up to are our own. Nobody cares, nobody judges us the way we judge ourselves. Why make myself do something I was no longer really enjoying because of what I thought people were thinking? I didn't crap out after six races, I actually trained for and ran six races! This all came to me in the weeks that followed the race, as I was dragging myself out of bed to keep up my miles and distances. I've decided I want to get back into running because I like it, and not worry so much about weekly mile minimums, or beating a self-imposed clock. If I want to go for a jog and then walk parts because I'm tired, I will. If I want to run between portals and ingress in the morning, I will, without worrying abut pausing the timer on my phone. It's so silly when I look at it from this different perspective, but I'm happier about it.

Then I read this thing about identity and how we feel threatened if we feel like we are losing something that makes up part of who we are. The more elements that make up our identities, the less anxious we feel when a single element is threatened. THAT'S what my hang up really was. I have to confess, sometimes I really do feel like there isn't really much to me. Sometimes in low moments, I've said to Steven that I feel like a "nothing person." He is someone unimpressed to hear me say this, so I don't anymore, but it's been a bit of a persistent feeling. I see people who have hobbies, passions, skills, musical talent, and I think, "I wish I had something." For me, I think that's what running has become. My one thing. 

I'll admit, I've done some re-evaluating of myself lately, some of the things I believe about myself and my life, and I've been trying to change my self-talk, and address some of my anxieties.

The author of the book I'm currently reading, "The Happiness Project," Gretchen Rubin, made a list of things she felt made up her identity, and it occurred to me that I do have things. There are things I do that make me "Tiffany." I don't have to latch onto something that makes me feel like I have a place. I do have a place. I am kind of awesome. That's not something I'd normally say. But I think we should. Everybody.

Anyway, in the spirit of identity, my list would include runner, occasional blogger, avid reader, book clubber, game night planner, substitute teacher (the goofy one the kids like), camper, mom, friend, wife, etc.

Someone last winter told me that it's our flaws that make us interesting, that we should embrace them. And it's true. When I think of things that endear me to others, it's their quirks, little things that make them interesting. It's not their perfectly immaculate houses (this is a myth anyway), their flawless cupcakes, their having everything together. We don't like people more because they are professional musicians or win awards at their jobs. It's the things that make them human and relateable. If they don't like you for your flaws, then you need new people. We need to be our own friends.

Anyway, this is some of what's been happening in my head lately. If you made it to the end, kudos to you. If not, that's okay. You're still awesome.


Sonya said…
My mind has traveled on a somewhat similar path as of late. Not so much that I'm a nothing person, but the fact that the person I used to be - creative and artsy fartsy - was no where to be seen. I miss that person. Life has become about hockey schedules, harvest meals, laundry and diapers. And I don't resent that. I (mostly) love this life, I just wish I could find that creative, free spirit person that I used to be. Blog post I've been avoiding...but I might just get to it yet.
Tiffany said…
Right? Oh how our identities change. It's hard to reconcile that sometimes. Please write it!
Hes said…
Totally get it. Life gets busy, we as moms are trained to put everyone else before ourselves so we easily lose our own identities. So funny you blogged about this as this has been my struggle this summer too. I'm working on my list... it's short right now but I'm slowly adding to is as I re-discover myself. Something I've been forced to do after all my kids started moving out. I've been defined as "mom" for so long and now that my kids are young adults and don't need me as much its a daunting realization to know who HEATHER really is without them!? Work in progress.... that's for sure.
manho valentine said…
Right? Oh how our identities change. It's hard to reconcile that sometimes. Please write it!
thanks you!


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