This is a word I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
Who am I? Who do I want to be? Who can I be?
I’m not sure what sparked this ruminating. Okay, I think I do – Facebook…. yes, the dreaded Facebook popped up a memory on June 25th that reminded me that on June 25th, 2018 I went for my first bike ride after my most recent surgery.
I knew the day was coming, but I couldn’t really remember when. Well, geez when I saw the photos of my grinning face so happy to be out on my city bike riding very slowly and gingerly along a gravel path – I felt all the feels.
This memory got me thinking about who I am today. I used to really identify as a competitive cyclist. Practically my entire social circle was made up of like-minded competitive cyclists. Cycling was what I did, thought, ate, and breathed.
So, now who am I? For a long time, I aspired to being the person I was in 2009, 2010, and in the years leading up to 2015. Someone who rode bikes. And I was focused on riding bikes hard and fast.
I tried so hard after my first surgery in 2016 to get back to being that person. I set huge goals of being on the podium at ‘cross nationals and on the podium at Masters ‘Cross Worlds. I know – huge pie-in-the-sky goals. But these made sense to me – after all this is what I did – I set huge goals and through grit, determination, and stubbornness I accomplished them (or came very close).
This isn’t me anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still have goals. But they’re very different. This year, my goal with cycling is to truly enjoy it. To do events I’ve never done before. To ride my bike and appreciate my ability to ride it.
Honestly, until things went really bad in late-2017 and continued until this past-February – I don’t think I really appreciated how awesome health is. I had been sick for a long time, leading up to this very recent rough patch – but I was always able to push through and grit it out.
And then all of a sudden I couldn’t. My normal tricks were no longer working. It was hard. I was sad a lot. I was disappointed a lot. I was very angry. I gave up on possibility and future.
And now, as I sit here feeling like a normal, healthy person (who is trying to pretend that ulcerative colitis is not always lurking and doing some damage to my body) – I realize how lucky I am.
My health is back. I can ride my bike everyday. I can lift weights. I can get up early and get through a day without needing a nap at 2:00 p.m. I can go out with friends and not stress about bathrooms. I can work and be productive.
My body, brain, and soul are aligned and have stopped fighting each other.
I know who I am and where I’m going. I’m a person. I’m a human being. I do lots of regular people things. But not one of these things identifies me. This allows me to really enjoy every thing that I do.
The gravel races/rides are damn hard. I’m finishing close to the bottom of the results page. This is okay. Because I can do these.
My sketching is very much a work-in-progress. Some days I can’t get the pencil to do anything. This is okay. Because I’m doing it and I’m trying.
And I’ve finally realized that it doesn’t matter what other people think of who I am. I know who I am. And I’m good with this person.
It’s funny how it took me so long to get to this. I feel very fortunate to finally be at this place.