So today is Day 1 of my blogging experience. Thank you, thank you, please hold the “Applause” and queue that catchy Lady Gaga song.
Alright, apologies. I will quit the pitiful attempt at humor and just tell you my story instead…
My name is Mallory and I am in the midst of my very first year of college. So naturally, I’m a mess. Finals, deciding a major, parties, internships, money, food, boys, girls and much more. Though it may be stressful at times, I will confirm the ever popular cliché and admit that “I am truly starting to find myself”. So let’s start at the beginning, shall we? That is, if you decide to keep reading which I encourage you to do under no biased belief at all.
I grew up as a blonde, wildly energetic athlete from suburbia Chicago. Basketball, softball, soccer, volleyball, swimming, and even cheer leading took turns occupying my time from season to season. Don’t get me wrong, I am no Missy Franklin or Keri Strug, but athletics come naturally to me, especially since I am a proud height of 6’2”. So when it came time to choose a University, I decided to accept a scholarship and a spot on the Women’s Varsity Volleyball team here in good old Rhode Island. Thousands of miles away from my home and definitely not the school I had always dreamed of as a kid. But hey, a strong business program and an education mostly paid for. Who wouldn’t say no?
Well, a year and a half after saying yes, I am now saying no. Looking back at that summer before my senior year of high school, Charles Horton Cooley’s Looking Glass Self Theory played a crucial role in my decision to continue a life of constant sports. For those who are not familiar with the theory, Cooley believed that how we see ourselves does not come from who we really are, but rather from how we believe others perceive us as (Cooley 1998). Some scoff at the idea that suggests he or she is not in complete control of their own identity. But when facing reality, human interaction is so continuous that it is nearly impossible to avoid the social mirror throughout a lifetime.
It took me a while to realize and truly understand, but now I will confidently admit that I was trapped within the theoretical reflections of the Looking Glass Self. Just like Andy Clark from The Breakfast Club (1984), everyone around me identified me as “the athlete” after years of success in sports from grade school to high school. The more they congratulated me about my athletic talent, the more important and noteworthy I felt; within this enormous world, I had a place to belong. These feelings initiated a desire within me to work even harder to maintain the label I had been given. During the process, I put aside other aspirations and dreams in order to be where I am today: playing Division I volleyball, saving money and earning a stable degree.
In attempt not to sound like an absolute brat, let me please explain that I have a deep passion for volleyball. When I am on the court, I feel powerful and brave. It has taught me a myriad of things over the years that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am so very thankful for the opportunity to play and do things that many people only dream of. I do not regret any of it. The thing is, I am ready now to create my own identity and leave the life of athletics that has guided me for so long.
So we have reached the end of the condensed story of my life up until now. I am studying for my first semester of college finals and I will complete the second semester here, but not as an athlete. For the first time in my life. I will then transfer to a school that I fall in love with. There, I will follow my dreams of writing, speaking, teaching, filming, volunteering and whatever else my gut tells me to do. I am stepping away from the mirror that I, for so long, avidly lived by. Now, I am ready to shatter it to pieces and create an identity true to myself. Remember earlier when I said it was nearly impossible to live without the mirror’s effects? Well, to overcome “nearly”, you need courage, confidence and optimism. With these things in hand and readily available, I am ready to go out and show the world just what I am capable of. The journey starts now.
Do you feel like the Looking Glass Self theory applies to your life and identity?
Take a chance, admit it and tell me about it. Then go after whatever your heart desires. You can do it, I believe in you.
Cooley, Charles Horton 1998. On Self and Social Organization. University Of Chicago Press. 1 edition.