The Identity Crisis

The Identity Crisis

This past weekend was a big one for all of my readers who CrossFit. The 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games entered its second week of The Open workouts.

For those unfamiliar with The Open, it’s a five-week competition that trims the field of 68,000+ competitors down to the top 60 men/women from each region (and top 30 teams) for its regionals competitions – the stepping stone on the way to the 2012 CrossFit Games in Los Angeles in July.

This week’s workout, 12.2 as its known, was a 10-minute workout of max snatches. A snatch is an olympic lift that consists of moving a barbell from the ground to overhead in one swift movement. The snatch is a very technical lift. You can be a beast of a man, but if your technique sucks, you will not be able to snatch much weight.

The snatch is a powerfully explosive movement.

And it’s a movement I severely struggle with.

After doing well in the first week’s workout, I knew 12.2 would be tough. I overestimated my technique (and strength) coming into the workout, and left clearly deflated.

I was completely frustrated about my performance after my second attempt at the workout on Saturday morning. I hit my ceiling of 60 reps, with my goal of 61 just slightly out of my time (and weight) range. I felt like I needed more reps to help our team as we compete to qualify for regionals, and just wasn’t able to come through.

I encouraged the other competitors, even watched my buddy Jeremy Calahan throw up a ridiculous 93 reps, including his last three at 210 pounds, but I still left the box that day with a sour taste in my mouth.

One of the struggles I have with CrossFit is that I will sometimes put too much stock into the sport. Like I had done with football and team sports in high school, I battle the desire to attach my own self-worth with how well I perform a CrossFit WOD (workout of the day).

After having a half hour to unwind from the competition workout, I posted a Facebook update as a way to simply remind myself that my identity is not found in CrossFit. Never has been, never will be. No matter how well or poorly I do in the sport.

Beyond frustrated with the 12.2 workout when you expect more of your body. Thank God my identity is not found in my workouts, but 12.2, I am not quite done with you. Round 3 soon. – jt

But it’s the danger I face of being so active in a sport driven by its pursuit of performance excellence. We are measured daily by how fast, how strong, how quick we are. It is very easy to be swept up into believing it reflects how you are perceived as a person or where your identity truly resides.

I obsess over my workout times and who I did or didn’t beat.

Being bigger…stronger…faster dominates my thoughts instead of what should be my focus:

Being more forgiving…loving…encouraging.

I put too much stock into my physical performance at CrossFit, and my attitude reflects as much. It’s an uphill battle for anyone and you can never find satisfaction in it because you’ll always believe you can do more.

It can be an overwhelming feeling. And even when you do reach one milestone, you feel a slight bit of emptiness because there’s another one just out of reach. You’ll never find full satisfaction if you rely on CrossFit…a marathon…a triathlon…any competition for your identity.

We all have down days working out – there are some days that no matter how determined we are, we physically aren’t ready to perform a certain movement or we just “don’t have it” for some reason.

But that doesn’t discount us as individuals.

It’s a workout, plain and simple. It isn’t what defines our lives. No matter what someone else tells you, I promise it’s supposed to be fun.

Otherwise, why would you do it?

I left the workout and met some non-CrossFitting buddies at the golf course for my best friend’s bachelor party. We spent the afternoon slicing golf balls all over the course (and at each other!), and the only mention of CrossFit was them asking how I did on the workout when I first showed up. Other than that, they gave me an encouraging word for the next week and that was it.

No more talk of snatches, WODs, or CrossFit.

They didn’t care that I had only gotten 60 reps. It just didn’t matter to them.

Heck, I could’ve thrown up 2 reps or 102 reps, and they still would’ve reacted the same way.

And that’s probably the one thing I needed Saturday.

A gentle reminder that those who love you and care for you could care less about your Fran time or your Opens ranking.

Yes, it’d be great to qualify for Regionals as an individual or team, but your friends don’t care. And that’s why they are your friends.

And regardless of if we do or if we don’t, our affiliate community still supports us.

Our goal as a community is “to prepare for anything” – being better than we were yesterday but knowing we’re not quite as good as we’ll be tomorrow.

CrossFit Games champion or not, our community is what strengthens us and keeps us going. They remind us of who we are, of who we have the power to become, and are those individuals who keep us positive and focused when we struggle with an identity crisis.

Ironically, it’s our CrossFit family that keep us grounded in our faith that there is more to life than CrossFit.

I could post a two-minute Fran time tomorrow or never come close in my lifetime, but I know my identity is secure in Someone other than CrossFit.

And I thank God for that truth daily.

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” – John 1:12


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