“I didn’t feel like I was worth remembering. I was always associated with something that consumed my entire life.” –Ingrid Marcum
“It’s really dangerous to define ourselves by any one thing, especially something that can be taken away from you in an instant.” –Neghar Fonooni
These quotes are from two of the amazing speakers at the Women’s Fitness Summit this year. Their words hit close to home for me, because I did have a serious habit of continuing to define myself by one thing that consumed my whole life–and when that one thing was taken away from me, or when I let it stop being ‘my thing’, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I would crumble, or just move onto something else that became ‘my new thing’.
For example: Cosplay. I defined myself as a cosplayer. My vacations, evenings, and weekends were spent working on a costume or prop and attending conventions. I had a lot of fun with it especially when friends were involved, and it was an outlet for my creativity.
In April 2015, I finished an life-consuming-8-month-long cosplay project and I wore it for the first (and last) time.
While I got some awesome photos and a pretty badass costume out of the experience, as I look back at myself at that point in time, I see someone who was obsessed with perfectionism. I validated my worth based on what others said/thought about me, and I was so completely idealistic that nothing else seemed to matter.
The day I wore this costume, I won the intermediate division in the costume contest at Midwest Media Expo, and then I felt NOTHING. I actually felt dead inside, because I was so overly focused on what was happening on the OUTSIDE of my body. It was incredibly disappointing.
So, I decided to stop chasing an unrealistic image of perfection. I also stopped defining myself as a cosplayer.
This event lit the spark which ignited me into a journey of embracing strength and learning to love myself fully.
I started defining myself as a powerlifter rather than a cosplayer. I was proud of myself for moving onto a hobby that focused on what my body could do rather than how it looked, and that was great! I competed in 4 meets within 4 months (too often!). I achieved a 450 lb total in my squat, bench press, and deadlift. I currently hold 2 national records and 12 state records in Michigan for powerlifting (APF/AAPF).
Still, the same problem persisted: I was defining myself by just one thing. It was ‘my thing’ and nothing else was a priority. I let it consume my entire life and it became my everything.
Defining myself only as a powerlifter is something that can be taken away from me. Those records I set? They are not forever. Someone else will come along and break them. This body of mine? I could get severely injured and lose the ability to lift heavy things. I may still be crushing meets at 70+ years old like some of the incredible women in the community… But then again, I may not be.
We are whole people. We are all more than just one thing.
Yes, I am all of these things:
- Personal Trainer
- Wandering Soul
- Dog Mom
- etc. You get the picture.
But, I’ve learned the importance of not defining myself by any singular thing.
So, how do I define myself now?
When I created the Strong with Purpose Manifesto, I wanted it to define how I intend to live my life. I didn’t want to do it in a way that was overly superficial or laced with lofty ideas of perfection. The Strong with Purpose Manifesto is adaptable and grounded in reality. I feel confident I will be able to truly live a part of each statement of intention throughout my entire life, even as I grow and age. When I feel like I’m struggling, I read the manifesto to help me restore clarity and focus in my life.
Does any particular statement of intention in the Strong with Purpose Manifesto resonate with you?
How do you answer the question, “Who are you and how do you define yourself?” Think about it. Send me a message or let me know in the comments below!