I used to label myself as a “snowboarder”. I let it define every ounce of my being. Eating, sleeping and breathing the “snowboarder” way for years, it quickly became the only thing I was passionate about. It was the only lens with which I saw the world. I was absolutely consumed. I had no idea how large of an effect the label was having on my self-perception until it was all suddenly stripped away.
Years into my obsession, striking right before a long sought after move to the mountains, the universe gifted me a serious, and semi permanent injury. It was life changing, terrifying and one of the largest challenges I have ever been through. I simultaneously tore my ACL and meniscus, rendering me useless as far as snowboarding was concerned. From my perspective, this injury seemed to be nothing short of traumatizing. What I failed to realize in the early stages of my recovery, was how incredible of a learning opportunity this experience would turn out to be.
Over time, I came back to snowboarding with a little more of an open mind about the world. While the physical recovery was easily the most difficult part of the journey, the unexpected challenge that came second was the loss of my self-identity. Snowboarding was me, and I was snowboarding. When my precious mobility was stripped away from me, it felt as if my identity had also been. I had subscribed so deeply to one defining label that I truly felt as if I was lost. Without snowboarding, I wasn’t even the same person.
I learned A LOT from my ACL tear, to say the least. It forced me to be more grateful for my health, and to expand my horizons by exploring new opportunities and sides of myself that I otherwise may have never understood. One of the main lessons I took from the whole experience is that I realized how absurd it is to subscribe and define ourselves by rigid, specific labels. We are all far too dynamic to describe our being by any one of our qualities or interests. I now realize more and more that I don’t want or need any labels placed on the canvas of my existence. Whether on a conscious level or entirely below the surface, labels often come to dictate many of the small truths in our lives. I want to live without any labels dictating who I am, or who I will become. I’m constantly evolving and no lifestyle can define which path I am going to take. I am a reading, sports loving, snowboarding oddball who has a dozen other interests and goals that probably don’t fit together very well, but I plan on keeping it that way. I’m learning to keep it simple by enjoying not the label but the process, trusting that it is leading me somewhere good.