Am I Still An Athlete?

I was at the gym working out the other day, keeping to myself, doing my own thing. After the workout, I was stretching and a fellow gym goer came up to me and asked if I was an athlete. I paused before answering, asking myself the same question.... am I an athlete?

A quick life sequence flashed before my eyes as if it was from a movie, I could see all my teammates as we approached the line for yet another set of suicides, our coaches favorite form of torture. Each of us thinking to ourselves, why did I pick a sport that requires so much running? Yet we could always take solace in the fact that we’re all in this together. That is how every practice was... each of us together, in the highs, in the lows, in the wins, in the losses.

This is what I think about when asked if I am an athlete. But now on the floor stretching with a stranger asking me this question, all I can think about is... am I still an athlete?

Here I am working out by myself, not in half as much pain as I would be practicing with my teammates, running lines, cheering each other on. Sitting here on the floor stretching out my hamstrings, I don’t feel much like an athlete. I finally awake from my daydream and give him my token response, “former yes.” But this time it feels different.

I have people come up to me on the daily and ask this question... being 6 feet tall you don’t exactly blend in. Today, as I leave the gym I am stuck pondering why I paused, normally I just rattle off “yes, of course I am an athlete,” you think I would let this frame go to waste?

Where did this feeling come from? Am I missing something? Is this a part of the next step? I don’t exactly have a guide on how I should be feeling 3 years post collegiate athletics. For me it didn’t just end when the last buzzer sounded. On the outside I seem to be fine, my joints are happy that it’s over, but am I an athlete?

As I thought about why I paused, I decided it was because I don’t feel like an athlete…. at least what an athlete used to mean in my world. Working out now isn’t a form of preparing to throw down, to compete, to win a game. Before...there was no in-between. But I am feeling a lot of in-between right now. The more time that passes from my last game, the more this question comes to the forefront of my mind.... do I have to create a new identity?

Who am I? Am I still an athlete?

-- Anonymous, College Athlete

**Pictures do not represent the author in this blog piece. 

Athlete Stories Form:

These are raw thoughts from an anonymous Mpowher Athlete member, voicing her struggle 3 years after graduation. Most athletes have similar experiences and thoughts. Submit a snippet from your life struggles, joys, embarrassments, and fun (it can be done anonymously). Sharing your story will help other athletes know that they are not alone when they are going through a particular experience.

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