relentless journey, story


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It’s safe to say I lost a huge portion of my identity the day I quit playing sports. I was 20 years old. I had finished my second season at a college in my hometown.  I starred on the field. I excelled in the classroom. I could have stayed. I would have thrived. It was an amazing program. But I felt there was more. For better or for worse. That day I quit, I left a huge piece of me behind and I’m not entirely sure I’ve been comfortable in my skin until very recently. As far back as I can remember I was recognized as an athlete. I grew up in a small town so it was easy to be noticed. To be fair, I was not the most naturally talented athlete, though most sports did come easy. And I’m far enough removed to talk about it realistically about it without sounding like I’m bragging. It was too long ago to hold on to and I’m pretty sure my “legacy” has since passed. Heck, I didn’t even get my picture on my high school’s Hall Of Fame (good thing I’m not bitter). To be fair, injuries held me back.

Recently I’ve been wrestling with this thing we call identity. If I were to toss out the ultimate Jesus Juke, I would confidently say that my identity is found in Jesus and move on. And while at the core I truly believe that, I also feel the tension daily to live out a life that matters, in some small way, my days here on this earth. If you’re like me, you wrestle with this from time to time.

Growing up, if you were to ask me who I was, I would confidently say I was an athlete. I was a team sport girl. One of five or nine on the court or the field. In most cases, when possible, the team captain. I would go so far to call myself a leader. I was tenacious and had a work ethic that would rival anybody. I held tight to that. But the day I gave that up, I lost a lot. I lost my confidence and in many ways my identity. I showed up at my second college by myself, where nobody knew my name. I could no longer identify myself as being an athlete. I was left to be the somewhat awkward 20 year old girl arriving at a place that was not my hometown. It felt like the big leagues. It was intimidating to say the least. I didn’t “find myself” in college. It felt a lot more like I lost myself.

Fast forward a few years (or a few of a few). I moved even farther away from home, got a “cool” job, met my future husband, got married, started a business, did more than OK, and still was a little lost. The moral here? Getting “that” doesn’t define you. Hitting that goal doesn’t either. Nor does taking the next step. Dating the right person, getting the right job, meeting the right people, publishing the book, landing the role, making it to the big leagues. None of that matters. Money doesn’t matter, status doesn’t matter, “following your heart” doesn’t matter. It’s all fleeting. I hate to ruin the story. At the end of the day, yes, what you do, who you do it with, and how you do it will determine so much. But it really doesn’t matter. Not my most encouraging post, is it? Stick with me.

I have always been “quiet”. In many cases, people have spoken for me. And often they do it well. I HATE talking about myself. Some people do it well, and to them, bravo. Many of those people excel. But that is not for me. In person anyway. I have found that writing helps me to process and communicate in a way that feels safe. Perhaps it answers questions without begging the question. Maybe, simply, it is where I am comfortable communicating. My hope is that it has a bigger purpose. I do it for me, yes, but I do it for you. Maybe you feel a little less alone. If you’re going through a tough time, I pray you feel like you are not the only one. Have you lost your identity? Do you feel like less than? Are you not sure where to start? You’re not the only one.

That is why I write. I could honestly care less about “followers”. If I had one and I brought that one comfort, than that is enough. Truly. I was not made to crave big stages. Being one of five or nine is enough. But I think in the midst of that team is greatness. I was point guard, I was short stop, and in college, I was last in the order. But in each case I played a role. I had to swallow my pride at times, and I had to keep working at others. That is why I write. Now I am one of thousands, but each has something to say. It is not my identity, but it is my part in the bigger picture, however that may look.

What is it that you do? I want to hear. Are you living your dream, or like me, are you lost? Are you burnt out or are you thriving? Your story truly does matter to me. We are a lot more alike than we are different. Feel free to comment below are email me (julie[at]thrivephotography[dot]com).