People think and perceive in patterns. Sometimes these are called strategies. I think there are 2 fundamental plans one uses in life, either perfection or wholeness.
You are made of many substructures, so is your life. For example, my persona, Alexandr, a is made out of other masks: I am a student, I am a daughter, I am Yuri’s mom etc. I am not a single entity but many, and those planes are interconnected.
STRATEGY 1: Wholeness
Is when you define who you are though more than one of your component layers. As I presented above: I am a graduate, a dog owner, a volunteer, a friend etc. I am not the perfect student, but I am one of the best in my university, I am not the perfect mom for Yuri because there are days when I would ask my mother to help me, like going out with him for a walk but I give him as much love as I can.
I like to think of myself as a Jack of all Trades. All these facets are part of who I am but do not define me completely. If I score a low grade, my life does not end here, I am not only a student and this is not the single part of my life, therefore it does not defines me. For example, you may be an awesome parent but sometimes things at work don’t go the way you want to, but still, you are a good father or mother for your son or daughter.
What I am saying is that if you apply this strategy you are not defined only by one part of your persona but by all your actions and emotion as a whole throughout your life. You are 40% responsible wannabe adult, 5% amateur athlete, 14% traveller etc.
STRATEGY 2: Perfection
Is when you identify yourself with only one of your sub-structures. Is when you give 180% to only one of your life dimensions. This is usually the path of geniuses, of outstanding people. Why? Because these are those people who would devote their life to one purpose. In this category fall individual such as scientist, professional sportives, monks etc. If you chose this path it means you are going to be outstanding, one of a kind, but you are not allowed to fail because otherwise there will be nothing left out of you. You define who you are through only one variable. Furthermore, you will have to give up everything else. Our time and energy are limited thus if you put all in something there will be none left for social life or family.
My younger sister is a professional athlete. She is ranked as one of the best goalkeepers in Romania and maybe the most brilliant of her generation. Since she was young she trained, once or twice a day, six out of seven days because in the seventh she had matches. Many times she came injured from training and my mom would patch her up so she could continue to play. The pain was not a barrier for her. She would take her books with her everywhere, she did not have time to study otherwise. Learning and making homework on the go was the way she could keep up with her classmates. We haven’t spent our holidays together in the past 4 years because she is training during summer break or she has tournaments. While others go to a party and have fun, she has to stay home and prepare for the next day, she doesn’t afford to lose sleep.
Last summer during the Olympics she injured herself and had to go through a tough knee surgery. She felt doomed, the operation was bad as it was but the fact that she could not play was worse. Her whole identity was crushed.
Before she had the surgery she was trying to prove everyone and maybe herself that everything was ok so she would go running for 10–15km even if her knees would hurt her. To understand better how bad things were: a 1-hour operation lasted 3 because the doctors have to reconstruct her knee.
The pains after intervention were unbearable, she would cry when she had to move her leg, it was that grueling. In the beginning, when she would start to move in crutches though house, she had to rest on a chair after a few steps.
She pushed herself to the limits, she was trying to convince herself that she could be whole again, that she could play again.
Soon after she started the recovery sessions. Every day she had to go to a special facility and workout 4–3 hours a day. In some sessions the therapist there would bend her knee and she would have to bite out of a towel in order to handle the pain. She recovered in 6 months as some do in years.
It was not only physical agony but emotional. She would start crying when she remembered her old life or when there was a handball match on the TV. There was a time when she said that she would give up handball. Actually, there were many.
Now, after all that pain, she still plays, she shines even brighter now than ever before. She is the hero that went into the underworld and came back stronger.
Her story is inspiring, but behind the scenes, things are more complicated than this, and maybe, sometime, I will tell you the whole tale. Many times before and after the surgery she said she would give up handball, and during our conversations, she presented a lot of strong arguments, but … she never did.
In my opinion, my sister defines herself through the sport she plays, she is not a “human” but an athlete, she can either have it all or lose it all, as in poker, she is all in.
I would like to thank my sister for allowing me to publish this even if I saw her crying when she read it