You are an athlete.
That identity will define many of the decisions you make on a daily basis, and your purpose will be driven by acting in accordance with this. There is a good chance that it will be the strongest driving force you will feel each day. You’ll have goals, targets and objectives that give you vision, but you will also rely on your identity to help you push through when things get tough. This is a huge part of sport, and adopting this all-encompassing identity is part of what makes you great at what you do.
But it isn’t everything.
Although you may not recognise it at the time, you are much more than you think, beyond your performance on the pitch, field, track etc.
Even though sports may occupy most of your waking thoughts and actions, you don’t have to limit yourself to a singular existence. So, ask yourself what are the other components that make you, well, you? To begin with you are a son, or a daughter. You may be a sibling. You may be a partner. You will undoubtedly be a teammate and a friend. You may be a coach to others, or a captain. You will be an influencer and a leader. You will be a role model. You will be an ambassador for sponsors, a representative for your sport. You will be a speaker, tweeter, a blogger, a vlogger. You may be a mentor to other athletes, or a voice campaigning for change. You may be a travel enthusiast, a photographer, an artist. You may be a student. Yes, you are an athlete. But you are so much more as well. Recognise that, whilst sport plays a hugely significantly part in defining you, it doesn’t define your entirety.
So, start to consider your interests outside sport. This doesn’t mean missing training sessions or getting distracted from your goals, but begin to use your down time to explore the other things that make you tick. It doesn’t have to be a traditional academic studying route, but experiment with your hobbies and with your ideas. Just begin by watching YouTube videos about things that interest you. Photography, web design, business, clay modelling, chess, guitar, chemical engineering, journalism, coaching, charcoal drawing, architecture, pastry, yoga, singing, calligraphy. Pick one, pick ten, pick all of them.
Sometimes, when we’re excelling at sport, it can be hard to pursue other interests as an ‘amateur’; to be average at something, and to be ordinary at other skills. Whilst the likelihood is that, given practice, in many of these other activities you will also start to excel, the goal here isn’t to be the best in the world at guitar or calligraphy — the objective is to extend your identity to more than just your sporting performance.
Continue doing this alongside your sporting career, and you will begin to forge an identity that is centred around you as a human being, and not just you as an athlete.
If things ever get too much and you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.
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