who are you?

this question seems simple at first glance. it’s not a trivial question like the one on your history exam, or a controversial question debated by scientists for centuries. it’s just a question about yourself! yet if you asked me this question three months ago, i would not have been able to provide a sufficient answer. i probably would have responded with “i am a runner” or “i am a straight-A student” or something regarding my achievements.

at the time, this didn’t strike me as an issue, as i was happy with my achievements and therefore i was content with allowing them to define me. and i don’t blame myself. it’s pretty hard not to let something define you when it takes up half your day and you think about it almost every waking moment.

i’m big into thinking about my future. i will lie in bed at night unable to sleep because i have my future all planned out and i want it now. i decided i am going to run for an ncaa division 1 college and i am gonna win state and i am going be this super dedicated amazing runner. i believed that the path to this future was to spend even more time running and thinking about running and basing my life around running. running running running.

i took running for granted. i used it to mask my problems. put simply, i did not care about anything else in my life. as long as running was going right, my life was going right. and running was going really, really right. until it wasn’t.

in mid-june, i began experiencing pain in my hip flexors. i couldn’t walk or sit up in bed without a lot of pain. but i denied the pain and ran through it. running was all that i had and i was not about to let it go. i cross trained for as long as i could until it became apparent that my body needed a break. and then i began to panic.

i was kinda a mess. i fought my eating disorder yet again, i would fall apart on people with zero warning, and i would cling so strongly to anything that brought me happiness because i couldn’t find it in myself.

anyways, i remember being at running camp in mid july and breaking down in my dorm on this creaky old mattress because i was surrounded by beautiful mountains and beautiful people who were so happy and full of life and i just felt empty. i called my mom sobbing and i vividly remember telling her “mom, i don’t know who i am”.

and that’s the truth. i didn’t know who i was, and running was no longer present to mask this. i tried to fill my life with other hobbies: learning guitar, drawing, writing, etc. but nothing felt quite the same. without running, my days felt empty and wasted.

this summer was a period of self discovery. i thought i knew a lot about myself, but in hindsight i realize that boy oh boy was i wrong. i believe that in life, and especially in high school, your experiences change and shape your identity. now that my life wasn’t controlled by one influential factor, i was able to have so many more life altering experiences, and i discovered that your identity isn’t defined by your hobbies or activities or accomplishments, but instead it’s a measure of what’s at your heart.

my identity before this summer was one-dimensional. i relied solely on one thing for happiness. imagine it like a piece of paper standing up on one end. that sheet of paper is gonna be reallyyy easy to blow off balance. and when it’s blown off balance, there’s nothing left standing. but what if you had so many things that made you who you are that your identity was three-dimensional, like a box. now it’s gonna be really difficult and nearly impossible to blow that box over, and when one of the walls collapses, the rest are going to be left standing.

i want to be a three-dimensional person, so full of life that i cannot be toppled over. i could argue that nothing in my life is really going all that great right now and yet i am happier than i have ever been before. my happiness is not attached to my success or achievements, but it is rooted deeper. now, if somebody asks me who i am, i feel that i’m a bit more prepared to answer.

i am sascha brooke godfrey. i am hard-working and i am strong-minded and i am determined and i will not let anything or anyone stand in my way. i’m never content with where i’m at, and i’m always looking for the next challenge. my mom told me that when i was a newborn, i would push my legs straight out in an attempt to walk and i would get so so frustrated because my legs were not strong enough yet to support me. i am a “try hard” and i’m proud of it. there is not a single thing in my life that i do not give my 110% to. i am quiet and i usually keep to myself, but i like to talk. a lot. i’m not into parties or substances or chasing boys. i don’t care what other people think of me, not even a little bit, not even at all. but that doesn’t mean i don’t care deeply about other people, though sometimes i’m bad at showing it (i’m working on this). i like writing. blogs, journals, letters, long texts, school essays. you name it. i enjoy being home alone because i can blast music and sing for hours, but i also really enjoy going out. i also love running and working out, because it makes me feel accomplished and healthy. i like staying up really late, but i also love waking up super early and savoring a quiet morning. basically i don’t like to sleep because i think about all of the things i could be doing that could get me one step closer to the person i want to become. i have a big heart and if there is a spider in my house, you best believe i am catching it and taking it outside. if i say something mean, chances are i will regret it and think about it every day for a year. unless you’re my little sister. sorry sis. i still love you though, even when you steal my leave-in conditioner and lip balms. i am extremely focused and i don’t give up on anything. ever. i’m also extremely competitive, but i’m working on being happy for others’ success. i trust everyone, and i will share my secrets and speak my mind, my heart, my thoughts, and my feelings to anyone who will listen, and sometimes i think that scares people, and i decided that’s okay. i used to think this was a weakness, but now i realized it’s part of who i am and that it’s actually really cool. oh and i have a passion for cooking and good food.

my mom wrote me this poem the night before regionals last season. she left it on the bathroom counter for me and i found it at midnight and bawled my eyes out because it spoke to me so deeply. now i read it almost daily, and it serves as a reminder that i am a runner, but that is not all that i am. i think it could be applicable to almost anyone, especially with school starting back up and all the pressure of keeping good grades n’ such. as students living in a time period where school is highly stressful and highly stressed, it is important to remember that we are not our grades. also, i know in this post i talk about running because that was one of the most influential things in my life, but for those non-runners out there, i believe that experiencing a loss of anything that you love can lead to a loss of identity, whether you recognize it or not. my mom was down at a conference with a bunch of professional athletes recently, and she mentioned that several of them spoke about being overly-reliant on their sport to the extent that they didn’t know who they were outside of it.

anyways, here’s the poem:

racing and other things

“it’s fun to play with numbers

like candy,

and slice them like torte – eliminating a second or two or a tenth.

it’s fun to see you run

like wind —

fiercely calm, rhythmic, intense,

willful.

(you make it look somehow less complicated.)

these things are fun to do

and watch,

but they are not all

you are.

you are

seas of ambition,

forests of energy,

mountains of dedication.

you are a soul

full of creativity and focus and compassion and complex lines that go every which way but make perfect sense when you see them all together.

numbers become you when they run beside you in races, falling off shorter each time.

but you are never a number,

or a time,

or a placement.

you are always a million other things that make the world better than it’s ever been.

i’m proud to know you, to see you run, to be your mom. i love you. i believe in you. always, no matter what. times a million.”

i challenge you all to really think about who you are. not just as an athlete, or a student, or a husband or wife, or a parent, son, or daughter. but who you are deep inside, what defines you and what your values are.

i also recognize that this summer i just lost running, and it’s not like i lost a family member or was diagnosed with a terminal illness or something. i am in no way trying to make this seem like a big deal. i’m so grateful for all the opportunities and blessings that i do have. i’m just sharing my advice because losing what i loved the most did have a large impact on my life.

also, i panicked after my last post because a) i did not expect professional athletes and 700 people all across the country to read it and it’s a little terrifying to put yourself out there to that many people, and b) since i am someone who always looks for improvement, i didn’t know if i would be able to replicate that post’s success and it scared me to try. but i met some new people as a result and everyone was super supportive. i’m not really sure where this is gonna take me, and i’m not promising a timeline of when i’ll be posting (though i do promise that not all of my posts will be about running hehe), but it’s definitely something that i love so i’m going to stick with it. i also still have my eyes set on a book, so there will be more to come on that very soon i hope.

anyways, thanks for reading!! if you liked this, feel free to share it with a friend, family member, or teammate. and go listen to dance with me by the sweet remains because it’s a good jam. i love you. i believe in you. always, no matter what. times a million.

– sasch