From Athlete to Loss of Identity

Was there ever a time when life felt really hard? The kind of hard when you sit there and ask yourself "What am I doing with my life?" and "What should I be doing?"

Maybe you're in that season now, maybe you just overcame that season, or maybe you have had multiple seasons of this!


Let's go back to the beginning. I was 2 when I picked up my first softball and probably the same age when I kicked my first soccer ball. I grew up playing sports and then competitively on club teams from the age of 9 until college. I lettered in both soccer and softball and at the age of 15, I decided I wanted to play college softball. To my athletes out there, you know what this means.. dedicated hitting lessons, extra fielding, 4 hour practices, full days or weekends of games, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

Sounds gritty! But it was a time of my life where I served a purpose. I was, Kristina the athlete, the softball player, the shortstop, or the centerfielder. I was identified within my sport as "a lead off hitter, the number 9 hitter, the quick one, the lefty.. the list goes on." What was I outside of softball?

I couldn't tell you honestly. I didn't realize I was SO captivated in my sport and my identity as an athlete that I truly didn't know my passions outside of it. I knew I wanted to study Kinesiology to "coach, train, and develop" other softball players because it was all I knew. So you might be asking - What happened? Why aren't you?

Well.. I played four years of collegiate softball, had many injuries, and by the end of senior season I needed an ankle reconstructive surgery that took me off my feet for 10 months. Everything I knew and thought I wanted to do vanished in August of 2014. << Super dramatic I know, but I went to school thinking I wanted to train people but ended up gaining 25 pounds in weight, fell into a gnarly headspace, and then doubted every opportunity that approached me because of this one surgery. I no longer had softball to train for, games to practice for, a team to pick me up, or a life that was surrounded by the diamond that I knew for my whole life.

I have talked to many athletes about this and it was agreed that their was a shift in this time of our life. Moments where we felt so utterly lost without the sport and the game, that we didn't know where our purpose was supposed to be served. Didn't know how to have confidence without our uniform on or how to eat and train without a coach. I studied these subjects in depth in college and still didn't know what the heck I was doing. Fast forward to now, I can see this is such an identifying moment for us.

In hindsight I think about everything those months taught me and if you're in this season now, hopefully this can help you.

  • Resilience: These hard times in our lives give us resilience. It gives us a drive to keep going because in my experience of being lost, I was driven to find a way out.

  • Educated: I educated myself further. On athletes with injuries, understanding the human anatomy in a way that helped us prevent injury. Expanded my knowledge in training to prevent injury rather than just to lose weight.

  • Experienced: I'm 29 and have worked more jobs than I can count. It is something I have been made fun of for but it's because I don't settle to have "just a job." I want to fulfill a passion. After this surgery, I didn't think I could train anyone looking the way I did (remember those body image issues I had.. this surgery didn't help). So I sought a lot of different opportunities to see what could fill up my cup and with that, I gained a lot of experience in different areas of life.

  • Relationships: Because of this surgery and working different jobs finding my path, I met SO MANY amazing people. Some that are mentors, some that are like family, others that taught me valuable lessons, and some bonds that got stronger because they stuck by my side throughout the whole process.

What I'm trying to say is, your identity is never lost. Your identity is YOURS and it is not lost my friend. It is shifting, it is redefining, and it is steering it's course to your purpose in life.

You are exactly where you're supposed to be.

How did you overcome a hardship in your life? Looking back, what would you tell your younger you?




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