Probably the most important question we ask ourselves, and probably why it’s also the most difficult one to answer!
The first thing that comes to mind for me, is a child of God! On that I’m clear. My self-worth rooted in my belief that I am created in His image and that reassures me that I AM LOVE.
On most days that is enough to sustain me, to fulfill me and to propel me forward, however, I would be disingenuous to my own truth if I didn’t also admit that who I am is complex. Yes, my soul knows whose I am but I also show up in this world as a black woman, a wife, a mother, a sister and a friend who is constantly trying to leave my mark, and who I am also feels intrinsically tied to what I do.
I knew at a very young age I would be an Olympic Gold Medalist. I wrote it as a class assignment when I was 9, and it wasn’t one of those, oh I want to be an astronaut kind of fantasies, this came after two years of competing in Jamaica, winning tons of races, and instinctively knowing it would happen!
I went on for over 23 years pursuing my first love. What an unforgettable ride it was, (I’ll share some of those stories in other blogs) culminating with me achieving my lifelong dream and standing on top of the Olympic Podium four times for Team USA.
It’s hard to express what that feeling is really like. To work tirelessly towards a goal and achieve it. It’s probably the most energizing, fulfilling and gratifying experience you can have. Crossing the finish line first was like running into a 20 year old fairytale and for the moment, I parallel it to how I assume Cinderella felt when she put on her glass slipper.
But the challenge is, how do you separate the value the world places on you from how you define or feel about yourself? As an elite athlete your reputation precedes you, you walk into most rooms and people can’t wait to meet you, to celebrate you and to learn more about your incredible accomplishments. Although a wonderful thing if you’re able to balance it all, this can be like a drug that slowly distorts and destroys your self-worth.
And then what happens when it all goes away? What happens when you no longer have the crutch of sports to hold you up. I assume most of my readers aren’t elite athletes, but I’m sure you can empathize. To go from “celebrity” to “anonymity” can be extremely humbling and after seeing many of my peers struggle through this phase, I did everything I could to prepare myself for my final lap of the track.
I knew it would be a tough transition, I prayed a lot and the most consistent question that kept needing to be answered for me was “Who am I?” When you are no longer Sanya Richards-Ross the trackstar, Who are you?
I wrote it down, and promised myself no matter what else I did in life I would never forget these things:
I am a force for good. I am destined for greatness and track and field was just my first vehicle. I am a leader, a teacher, a powerhouse and I am here to serve and inspire others that greatness lives in them; it’s not fleeting, and it’s not reserved for a select few, it’s within us all.
As I now take on my newest role as Mommi, there are days when I feel like I might lose my essence in my desire to be a great mom. There are days when it feels like an impossible balancing act to continue to chase my many dreams, to continue striving to be the best version of myself, and still nurse, change diapers, schedule doctors appointments, comb his hair, get him dressed, cook lunch, nurse (it’s been 19months, it deserves to be repeated!) and be there to tuck him in every night.
It can feel overwhelming at times but then I remember one of the best lessons I learned as an athlete. On the day I won my individual Olympic Gold Medal I competed on a broken big toe. Yes, A BROKEN TOE!!! Had I waited for things to be perfect, or play out exactly as I planned, I would have never had my gold medal moment.
As a mom I’m settling into the reality that most things are out of my control, I’m never 100% sure if I’m making the right decisions, the sacrifices now seem steeper and more frequent but I see the beauty in every small win. I see sprinkles of my greatness everyday and I don’t need the podium to validate me, I create one for myself every single day!
Have you felt a nudge to answer this same question? Pray about it, trust your instincts and know you are equipped to tackle this next phase because greatness lives in you!
Look forward to reading your comments below and I hope if you’re here you spend some time exploring all the incredible posts on our page. There are some dynamic moms here that share their heart and tackle topics that are reserved for kitchen talk. But that is what we’re all about. Being open, honest, vulnerable and real in hopes that together we can heal, grow and love!
Until next time Mommies,