For those of you who don’t know me, I love football. I wish it were on all the time. The moment the Super Bowl ends, I’m annoyed I have to wait until August to hear the words, “I’ve been waiting all day for Sunday night.” I know I sound like a crazed fan right now, but it’s one of my passions. In the spring, I read articles and tweets to try and fill my football need. I found an article the other night that was powerful.
Rashard Mendenhall wrote an article about his retirement. Mendenhall is 26. TWENTY-SIX. And he is retiring?! Why would he want to retire from the NFL? As I read the article, I was challenged by his words.
“The box deemed for professional athletes is a very small box. My wings spread a lot further than the acceptable athletic stereotypes and conformity was never a strong point of mine.”
“My focus has always been on becoming a better me, not a second-rate somebody else. Sometimes I would suffer because of it, but every time I learned a lesson from it. And I’ll carry those lessons with me for the rest of my life.”
“So when they ask me why I want to leave the NFL at the age of 26, I tell them that I’ve greatly enjoyed my time, but I no longer wish to put my body at risk for the sake of entertainment.”
Rashard Mendenhall has never been concerned about what others thought of him. At the age of 26, he is tired of performing for others and wants to follow his other passions. He is tired of fitting into the box that society has put him in. He wants to be himself. What a powerful statement for a young man.
After I read the article, I instantly wanted to show it to my youth students. I wanted them to hear this important lesson on being yourself, even if others don’t understand. I realized, however, that they are not the only ones who need to hear this message. Teenagers are not the only ones who struggle with identity. They are not the only ones who desire to please others. They are not the only ones who are given a box from society to fit into. Adults struggle with those same issues.
So what if we retired today?
Let’s retire from:
-sacrificing our identity
-fitting into a box
Let’s have the boldness and courage to say, “I’m done risking my identity to please others. I’m going to pursue my dreams and passions. You may not understand, but I’m going to be the person God created me to be.”
At the age of 24, I’m retiring. I’m going to walk in the freedom of being me. Is anyone else going to join me?
If you would like to read the full article by Rashard Mendenhall click here.