There are a lot of things to which I identify myself. It comes as no surprise that at the top of the list, I identify myself as a mom. Every single minute of every single day, I’m a mom. I never step out of those shoes. Even when I’m away from my children, I never stop being their mother. But who is to say that we can’t identify ourselves as more than one thing. Being a mother is something that is a piece of me. It’s something that didn’t develop until I was 25 years old and pregnant with Fiona. I haven’t always been a mother but I will be a mother for the rest of my life.
I’m not just a mother, though. I’m also a wife. I’m a daughter. I’m a friend. I’m a sister. I take many forms. The one that I’m enjoying getting to know right now is my identity as a runner. I’ve heard people say to me “I like to run but I’m not a runner.” What constitutes a person being able to define themselves as a runner? It always brings me back to the (don’t judge me) hilarious Whoopi Goldburg comedy “Sister Act.” Let me quote Whoopi from the movie:
“I went to my mother who gave me this book…called Letters to a Young Poet. Rainer Maria Rilke. He’s a fabulous writer. A fellow used to write to him and say, ‘I want to be a writer. Please read my stuff.’ And Rilke says to this guy: ‘Don’t ask me about being a writer. If when you wake up in the morning and you can think of nothing but writing…then you’re a writer.’”
If you run, you’re a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast you go, how far you go, or how often you do it. All that matters is that you run.
I fall deeper in love with my runner identity every single time I put my running shoes on. Every step on the pavement I learn something new about myself. There is nothing more exhilarating to me than picking up a race bib, scoping out a new course, and getting the adrenaline rush of the starting line of a race. It’s no surprise to anyone that I yearn to race all the time. Some runners go their entire lives without racing. Me, my runner identity, I crave the thrill of the finish line. The crowds, the competition, the personal records, the pain train, the silly race t-shirt, the post race browned banana and all. I live for it.
I recently did a photo shoot with Ben from Birthdays For All. We went downtown Charleston to take some fun pictures of me running. We started at the battery and worked our way around to another park. Ben captured a picture of me that I honestly could stare at all day. Now I know that might sound super conceited but please let me explain. When I look at this picture, I see the runner in me. I see my crazy fire red pony tail with the hair wisps flying out of place. I see my competitive game face ready to take a starting line. I look into my eyes and see every single run I’ve ever done. I see the highs and the lows. I see the girl striving to make progress in her future. I see a girl who just wants people to see her as a serious runner. I don’t see the mom, the wife, the friend, the sister, or the daughter. I just see the runner. That’s not a bad thing, either. I am thankful that there is a piece of my identity that is all my own. I’m a damn good mother and my children are everything to me. However, I am more than just a mother and it’s good that I still have a piece of myself that is all mine. It is important to me that I still maintain my identity because ultimately the person that I am is the person that my husband loves, that my children love, and that my family loves. If I lose myself in everything else that surrounds my life, I will no longer be the person that they have all fallen in love with and cherish. Lets be honest, all my mother runner friends can vouch for the fact that we get cranky when we don’t get our running time in. There is more to me that just the titles of mom & wife. I am a runner. This picture just encompasses everything that I feel when I’m in my running gear, hitting the road, dreaming of races, picking new cities to conquer, and breaking those personal records.
I’ll never be a pro athlete. I’ll never be sponsored by Nike. No one is going to be paying my entry fees into races anytime soon. But I will always consider myself a competitive athlete. I’ll always see myself as a bad ass mother runner. A runner is so much of who I am and I love the person that I have turned into since I started my running journey. So yes, I can’t stop staring at this photo because I see so much of a piece of my identity that I am bursting with love for at the moment. Maybe one day that will change but for now, I love running and I am beyond proud to call myself a runner. I can’t wait to see how this identity builds over the years and miles to come.
There are lots of beautiful pieces of you and you’ll feel much more whole if you let yourself find and explore those hidden identities.