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“Become what you are.” 

This quote from the Venerable John Paul II packs a punch. It’s as simple as it sounds, but then: WAP-O, right in the self-expectation gut.

The new year brings new resolutions: weight loss, a more organized house, patience, loving more, visiting grandparents (highly recommended), or calling parents more often. These great goals contribute to bettering ourselves and to becoming who we are.

I want to dig into “becoming who I am,” but I’m letting something get in my way.

A little over-rotation at the age of 7.

Since I was 13, I have defined myself as a swimmer. I still do, though I look nothing like one anymore (queue the female body image pity violin).

Each day I smelled like chlorine and loved it. I used every muscle in my body for an average of 3 to 5 hours per day. My swimming peers and I competed with each other, got into a rhythm together, shared hotel rooms, motivated each other, and empathized with the balance that only athletes in individual sports can understand.

The first time I drove by myself with my valid license was to a 4:50 AM swim practice.

You’re a swimmer if you walk around the pool deck half naked as if you’re fully clothed. You’re a swimmer if you feel more comfortable blowing bubbles face down into water for hours on end than breathing normally in the stands at a football game.

You’re a swimmer if you can hold your breath for a minute and a half without panicking. You’re also a swimmer if your number one fear is that of drowning because you know just how painful not breathing can be.

I’m in the middle. I miss that feeling.

You’re a swimmer if you train 25+ hours per week for 3 months just to spent a few minutes, or seconds, in your own lane to the muffled sound of cheering friends.

The reason I stopped swimming is both uninteresting and irrelevant, but the affect that the void has had is striking. I find I identify myself as a swimmer, though I am too scared to go to Masters practice regularly (Masters swimming is a structured league for adults).

I allowed “swimmer” to define me for too long. I cannot let go of the title entirely because most of my competitive nature and drive are derived from my time in the water and I would still rather smell like chlorine than anything else, but it’s time to embrace my real identity in 2011.

I am a daughter in Christ and of our Lord. That’s all I need to process.

This year I will be brave and go to more Masters practices. I’ll use them as time for meditative prayer. How many decades can I go through in a 600m warm-up?

In my short time on Earth, I’ve come to too many conclusions about how to live that don’t include reflection as a member of God’s Church. It’s time to strap on my goggles and re-focus.