Ronda Rousey’s comments after her first UFC loss
“Honestly, my thought in the medical room, I was sitting in the corner and was like, ‘What am I anymore if I’m not this?'” Rousey said. “Literally sitting there thinking about killing myself. In that exact second, I’m like, ‘I’m nothing. What do I do anymore? No one gives a s— about me anymore without this.”

I’ve never thought about killing myself, but I have had similar thoughts, as Rousey’s when my basketball career was not going to way that I wanted. Often we as athletes define ourselves and allow others to define us as successful athletes. That is a very dangerous quandary to be in. If you are competing at the highest levels of a sport than losing is inevitable. And often not only will you lose, but you will lose big. Losing in and of itself it’s tough, but when you add on the fact that you feel like you have lost your identity, it’s devastating. As a result, the athletic failures can lead to deep depression.

As a college athlete, my career had a few peaks and a lot of valleys. When on my peaks I felt as if I was on top of the world, but while in the valley’s I did not like myself, I was embarrassed of myself, and I had no self-confidence, I did not believe I was capable or worthy of success. I allowed myself to be defined by playing time (or in many cases lack thereof), winning and the praise and acceptance of others, or the not so favorable opinions and disapproval of others.

Being that I had more valleys than peaks I was in a dark place for the majority of my college career. What made it even more challenging was the fact that my father was my head coach. When I did not play, or if I did not play well I felt the pressure of not only letting my coach down but also my father and my entire family. I felt that my poor performances would eventually negatively affect the well being of my family’s future.

I’ll be the first to admit my career did not go the way that I thought, what I did not realize was the dark depression that it caused. Even after my playing career was over the negative effects of allowing myself to be labeled by my athletic performances led to years of depression. For years I would think just as Rousey did, ‘I’m nothing. What do I do anymore? No one gives a s— about me anymore without this.'”  I had no confidence because I felt worthless without an actual identity. As a result, I expected less than what God wanted me to have. If I were out and saw an attractive woman, I would not dare talk to her because I felt like I was a loser, and would tell myself “why would she want to speak to me? I’m a failure.” I would want to apply for a job and not even fill out the application, because “I knew that they would never hire a loser like me.” I once did not fill out an application at a luxury apartment complex, because I felt that I was not good enough to stay at such a beautiful place. (As I allowed God to change me I did fill out that application and now live in the same place)  At one point it was so bad, that I convinced myself to be happy with unhappiness because that’s all I was worth.

I was listening to an online sermon from the man that was responsible for shaking me out of my depressive state, Dr. Frederick Haynes III. His messages of empowerment changed my entire perspective. He passionately shouted, “don’t let people label you because when they label you, they limit you.” That is the phrase that ignited a flame of belief internally. He went on to explain that others will always try to place a label on you, and if you accept that label, it defines who you are. He then advised that you not let what you do define who you are. If you allow someone to label you a hot head because you lost your temper previously you will indeed be a hot head until you shed the label. If you allow someone to label you a troublemaker, you will indeed make trouble.

For me, and many athletes like me we are victims of labeling ourselves and allowing others to label ourselves as athletes. We are too accepting of the athlete label, which seems like a good thing. The thing about being confined to the athlete label, is what happens when you have a bad game? What happens when you sustain a career ending injury? What happens when you retire? What happens when you’re Ronda Rousey, and you’ve allowed yourself to be confined and defined as the baddest Mofo on the planet and then you get your a&% kicked in front of the entire world? And everybody that labeled you the greatest is now laughing, creating memes and reposting vines of your horrific TKO? What happens is you now live and accept the label as a loser, as a nobody, as a joke, as worthless.

After hearing Dr. Haynes’s message on refusing to allow others to label me, or mislabeling myself, I decided to label myself correctly. I labeled myself based on the foundational truth’s of God’s word and what He says about me. God said He loves me unconditionally and that He will never turn His back on me. God said, I am His child, and I am wonderfully made. God stated that he has a plan for my life, and it’s indeed a great plan with a fabulous future, God said to trust Him and that even in the darkest of times He will find a way to make those the best things to ever happen to me.
After meditating on what God said about me and how He feels I made the decision to label myself as God’s wonderfully made child, that is unconditionally loved by the creator of all, and despite the dark days of the past, I have a bright future to look forward too. There’s a liberating power that comes when you properly label yourself through God’s truths as opposed to other’s shallow ignorance, or even yours.

*One of the reasons for my depression was that I tried to fight through that dark period by myself. I did not allow God to help me, or those precious people in my life that God anointed to help me through my tough time. My hope is that no one will ever have to go through what I went through, but I am certain that many have been through, are currently going through and will go through a similar period during their athletic endeavors. I honestly believe that if I had would have had someone to talk with and someone to understand and acknowledge what I went through that it would have made all of the difference in the world. I encourage anybody that has a similar story to seek out someone to help you through; I would love to be that person to anyone who feels I could be of help.