I have been through that, in what now feels like another life time. You see I was once an athlete, not professional (as I was making no money from it) but it was my sole identity. I had finished university and had no obvious career goals ahead, it wa a preolympic year and I fancied my chances getting on the national team. I decided to devote my whole year to rowing and so it started. In that one year my whole identity, mental and physical efforts, eating, sleeping and breathing, social life, family life and intellectual capacity was tied up with that one thing. I became an athlete: nothing more, nothing less. One role that fully defined me, as everything else became secondary. The year came to an end and, after an agonising decision making process so did my rowing career.
What happened next surprised me and those around me: I felt like a part of me had died. I had to properly grieve for my role as athlete, before I could move on with the rest of my life. In a few short weeks I lost my friends, my routine, my goals.
In order to survive I enrolled on a new university course, I moved countries, I got in touch with old friends, I started making new ones. I reinvented myself. Can't say it wasn't painful.
Ten years have passed. My roles have changed and they are a lot more balanced. I now seem to define myself not only by what I am (daughter, sister, mother, wife, friend, writer, athlete etc) but by who I am, what I think and feel, what I believe in. These tend to stay a lot more constant in my life, my values and beliefs are an anchor in all te changes of life.
This time last year I was mainly a teacher. That identity in many ways dominated my life, mostly because teaching really is all consuming. Then I became a mother. And a lecturer. And a writer. I was also no longer an athlete and as my belly grew and my new future dawned I stopped being a lecturer too. In late January, a few short weeks after O's early arrival I finished my first book. I became a fully-fledged writer, something I have always dreamt of, ever since I was in primary school.
My roles change, but it is I who chooses. I am lucky to be able to drive myself in all this. And I am still very much me!