Personal Narrative Essay about Your Identity

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As a student-athlete, whether in high school or now in college, I have been told that I must perform on two different stages. I must be able to perform as a student in the classroom by maintaining grades despite difficult study hours and as an athlete being able to maintain my high level of performance on the playing field without regard to stress. I have been told that these two areas define me as a person leaving me in a mental box experiencing mental highs and lows all based on how well I perform in two worldly satisfying areas. However, when I have put my identity in two unstable worldly things I have always been led to dissatisfaction and feeling belittled. On the other hand, when I have put my hope and identity in God who is greater, more stable, and more satisfying than anything I would be able to find on earth, then I have allowed myself to find my true identity in Him. Even though I find my identity in Christ, the world has told me otherwise and I have fallen into believing the lies. Many people argue that athletes should be defined by the performance of the sport, however, I argue that as a Christian athlete, you must choose to put your hope in God because sports are a temporary feeling that will make you experience emotions that will either make you feel as if you are at the top of the world or feel as if you’re in the depths of the sea.

There are many passages in the Bible where I interpret the meaning being instructions on how to find an identity. The book of Hebrews encourages the audience, the Hebrews, to stay firm in their faith to experience the peace and rest found in Jesus. Even though the Book of Hebrews does not say who wrote the book, there are still many takeaways I have been able to apply. With the world being filled with sin, and the temptations of the world getting bigger and growing exponentially, the author of Hebrews encourages the readers to strive for a holy life saying “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2a, NIV). As a Christian reading this passage, Paul has encouraged me to live a life as Jesus did when he was on earth. While this goal is impossible because Jesus was perfect in every way and I am a sinner, I can still strive to achieve this goal and live my life in a way that would honor Him. When reading the book, Religious Belief, and Personal Identity, published by Professor Dr. Vincent Brümmer, the author uses a quote from Iris Murdoch “Man is a creature who makes pictures of himself and then comes to resemble the picture” (156). If I choose to put my identity in sports and academics then that is what is going to identify me. However, if I choose to live my life as Jesus did, I will find myself placing my identity in something much larger than this world we live in, which often leaves people experiencing hurt, stress, and uncertainty. Trying to live like Jesus seems like an impossible task because it is hard to be perfect in this sinful world. A way to live like him is to think like him as Paul says in Philippians. Paul gives us a list of characteristics regarding what we should be thinking about, including true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8, NIV). When I think of these things and live them out, that is when I can find my identity in Jesus rather than finding my identity as a student-athlete.

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Throughout the gospels, Jesus uses stories, teachings, and practicality when speaking to his audience. In Matthew 11, Jesus uses beautiful imagery while talking about a yoke. A yoke is “a wooden bar or frame by which two draft animals are joined at the heads or necks for working together” (Merriam-Webster, 2021). While we do not see yokes being used in today’s world, we are still able to understand Jesus’ message and apply it to ourselves. I love this imagery because Jesus is helping us picture the idea of submitting ourselves to him and allowing him to take over. When picturing how a yoke works, if you have one animal working harder than the other then the plow or whatever is being pulled goes off track, but when the animals are working side-by-side then they are on a straight path and neither gets left. This passage has reminded me day in and day out how to find my identity in something other than the world. When I focus all my attention and effort on getting good grades in school and performing in my sport, my side of the yoke starts to go ahead and my identity is being pulled offline. However, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV). My interpretation of this passage is to take all my stress and worries about my identity and let them go. I also admire this passage because Jesus does not say for us to take upon the yoke but it may be hard to walk with him, but he invites me and gives me this eternal rest that is only found in an eternal source, Jesus. When I am choosing to take Jesus’ yoke and walk with him, I can find my identity in Him, leaving the stress about grades and performance behind.

When looking at this issue of self-image and identity within collegiate student-athletes, I see many athletes go through difficult stages in their careers that affect both their physical and mental abilities. In a study titled, Mental Well-Being and Sport-Related Identities in College, the authors Kathleen Miller and Joseph Hoffman use the term “toxic jock” to identify those who find their entire identity in their sport. The terms athlete and jock are seen as interchangeable, however, the two terms are unique and represent two different meanings. An athlete can play a sport and find their identity with something else, while a jock finds their identity in the sport and their performance. Authors Miller and Hoffman used a series of questions to determine if the participant viewed themselves as a so-called jock or athlete. The authors would then ask the participants if they had tried to commit suicide in the past year. With the results, Miller and Hoffman analyzed the results and believe that the groups of jocks were more likely to try suicide than the athletes. This solidifies the fact that when you put your identity in something that will let you down, you are not experiencing a source of hope which leaves you with stress and worry about future performances.

I have experienced both highs and lows of life all due to my performance on the field. I am blessed to know that my identity is not found in my sport or academics but even with knowing that there are moments where you think that is what defines you. As a senior in high school, after leading my team to a state championship the last two years, I had started to put my identity into my athletics. I wanted people to know me as a good athlete and student rather than a solid Christian man, and that was not sufficing my hope. I came into college wanting to change that narrative of my identity but still, as a first-semester student-athlete in college, I was still trying to find my identity in my sport and school. I had lofty goals as I wanted to be a starter who was going to make the all-academic team as a freshman. The first tournament rolled around the corner, and I was able to play for the team! I exceeded my goal and quickly began to think my identity was found at Belmont. However, as the next two tournaments approached, I was unable to travel for the team, leaving me mentally frustrated with myself when I was not performing to the highest capability and was not able to find a quick solution. This left me in a low mental state, as I was putting so much time into worldly athletics and academics instead of into an eternal source which is God. I was reminded by a teammate, that in the grand theme of eternity, making a tournament or missing a tournament really doesn’t matter. What does matter though, is that I am choosing to find my identity in Christ and choosing to follow Him. Now, as I am finishing up my first semester at Belmont, I have been reminded by my teammate weekly that our identities should not be found in worldly things I was trying to put my identity in, but I should be seeking to find my identity in Christ which is a solid foundation.

As I have three and a half years left at this university, I would love to spread this message not only to student-athletes but to all students on campus. I believe that all students try to find their identity in worldly things whether it be friends, partying, school, or sports and it all just ends up leaving them in stress and hurt. Brenda Colijn talks about the new identity found in people being baptized. She writes a chapter called, New Birth Into a Living Hope: The Brethren Understanding of Regeneration, in the book, Brethren Life and Thought, where the topic is the transformation and obedience of those who decide to make their faith public with baptism. She also includes Alexander Mack Sr.’s viewpoints about regeneration (baptism). Author Mack views baptism as the action of “spiritual rebirth” (Colijn, 2007, 104). As I am a Christian student-athlete, with a small platform, I would love to see lives experience this spiritual rebirth on the Belmont campus. My goal is to remind others that they will never find eternal, satisfying hope in school and sports, but they can experience the living hope that the Lord gives. I will try to prioritize this in my day-to-day life as I will include this topic in conversations and let people know the kind of hope that God provides when you choose to put your identity in Him. The hope that the Lord gives is never-ending and cannot be taken away just as it says in 1 Peter, “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4). With the death and resurrection of Jesus, he has given everyone hope in a protected future, hope in provision, hope in Heaven, and hope in much more. With the hope he has provided us, we should be finding our identity in this hope! When reading Ephesians, the author, Paul, was writing this to the church of Ephesus while in prison. He reminds the church in chapter 2 verses 3-10 on how they can find their identity in Christ. Paul reminds the readers that God has chosen, loved, united, blessed, forgiven, and adopted all of us, and wants us to identify ourselves by these things rather than temporary things on earth.

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Personal Narrative Essay about Your Identity. (2024, January 04). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
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