“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” –William Shakespeare
Okay, so I had a busy schedule today and my kid-free time was limited. So I hit the trail pre-dawn with a headlamp. I was hoping for some spectacular sunrise, as they are uncommonly commonplace here in the Grand Valley, but despaired of such as the mist obscured most light. It was a gray dawn. Like something out of LotR.
My Achilles has been attempting to thwart my attempts at running, but I forced denial and went ahead and ran. I love love love trail running. And this morning I felt amazing. It was like my body had trained for this and just knew what to do. I adore this feeling.
I remember one day when I was in the BYU Marching Band. I can’t remember what I was thinking about at the time, but it wasn’t what body was doing. I had trained to the point where I didn’t have to think about the notes or the steps or my next position. Ever since then I have longed to be so trained at something that my muscle memory would just take over and I would feel like flying. I think I’ve hit that point with running.
Well, this morning when I realized this, I CAN tell you what I was thinking about. Self-perception. You see, it’s easy for me to think of myself as a band geek. That’s what I was from the time I was 11 (or earlier) until…well…I kind of still am. Though I play in orchestras more than bands these days. Still, you get the point. I was comfortable with that. I was a band teacher. I was a private music teacher. I was good at that and it was my identity.
Same thing for every stage of life. I developed my identity as a wife. As a mother. As a friend, sister, employee. Think of yourself. What is YOUR identity? Is it your job? Your role? Who are you really?
Well, a few years ago I went from working-out-just-to-lose-weight, to training. Racing. I became something that I have struggled with ever since to identify with: an athlete. A triathlete. A runner. A cyclist. Heck- I’ve had an easier time identifying myself as a VEGETARIAN than an athlete.
You see, last June I actually won FIRST PLACE over all the women at the Moab Xterra. When I saw the results I actually started screaming. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t an athlete! I had never done swim team. I had only been mountain biking for a year! And heaven knows I’m no runner! This wasn’t me! It was my name in first place, but it wasn’t ME that had won. It was some other Elisa in some other universe.
It all comes down to identity, see? How do we identify ourselves? Am I a runner? A triathlete? A cyclist? Even if I don’t FEEL like I am? Am I a champion? Am I a princess? I’ve only had my MBA for six months- if I don’t make it part of my identity, what does it really mean? And if I DO make it part of my identity, am I a different person?
I can’t say that I’m an authority on any of this. All I can attest to is my own experience, and ask you to reflect on the same. Who are you really? How you see yourself or how the world sees you?
All I can say is that I was found the end of June 2013 just outside of Crested Butte, Colorado. I looked up at the vastness of those mountains, the vivid green of the aspen trees and the majestic purple of the wildflowers worshiping at their feet, and realized that what other people thought I was didn’t matter one bit. I know who I am.
And she’s pretty dang good.