Life isn't about finding yourself...
It was 2002 and I was about to compete in the World Junior Weightlifting Championships in Havírov, Czech Republic.
Being seventeen years old and having a raging eating disorder, it seemed like a logical plan to take six weeks off after the competition and travel through Europe.
The idea of escaping from life as I had created it felt alluring.
The competition happened and I finished with a placing of 13th. Looking back now, I’m proud to be able to say I placed 13th. At the time however, I told myself I was a dismal failure and I had let everybody down.
My self-esteem was fighting a tug of war; it oscillated between resting on my ability to succeed in weightlifting and resting on my ability to be thin.
I couldn’t succeed in weightlifting if I didn’t eat, yet I couldn’t lose weight if I continued to build muscle. Either way, a part of me was going to lose. The only solution I decided, was to do what every prisoner dreams of...obtaining freedom. I figured the way to do that was to go ‘find myself’.
To make a long story short, the saying ‘wherever you go, there you are’ was written heavily in my heart. I might have left the team to go travelling, but I had unwittingly packed my eating disorder with my luggage. My main memories of Europe were of being hungry.
With my entire identity wrapped up in that of ‘elite athlete’, I didn’t know who I was without my sport.
Six weeks alone, no closer to ‘finding myself’ than I had been before I left...it was time to return home. At the airport, I dragged myself through the duty free section trying to put off returning to my life. Nothing had changed, not the life waiting for me, nor the person returning. The only thing I had gained was the mounting awareness that my eating disorder was not just ‘the thing I would stop when I stopped weightlifting’, it was now ‘the thing I couldn’t stop even though I wanted to’.
It is hard to find yourself. Especially when you look in all the wrong places.
I paused at a rack of gift cards right before the final doors that led me to my waiting family. One of them leaped out and hit me, as though I had been physically struck in the chest.
'Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself'
I had travelled all those miles for all those weeks only to have this show up in my face when I returned home. It was...perfect.
I bought it and stuck it on my wall.
It reminds me of two things; 'wherever I go there I am' and that I can never be ‘found’ only ‘created’.
The Kristie of today was not found in a strange country, or a book, or a movie. She is the Kristie I have created. I am glad she comes with me wherever I go – I need her!
My wish for you is to create yourself so you can be your own best company and build the life of your dreams.
Two heads are generally better than one! Need some coaching on creating yourself? Book in for a free video call with Kristie here.