In this article, Mark Manson writes on the importance of identity diversification, not just for regular people but also for athletes. Time and time again, we have seen athletes, even beyond the scope of basketball, retire from their careers and succumbing to mental illness and depression. It’s hard to understand this if all your life you have been geared towards different options for success in your life.
Unlike the civilians they interact with, and I use that word sparingly, most athletes have lived for one thing alone- the sport. The phrase “Ball is life” may not always be a great one, and may be potentially harmful if taken too literally. What happens to the athlete when there is no more ball?
A topic not always covered in the news. but both college athletes and the ones who ended up drafted into the major leagues are susceptible to major health problems. The Acupuncture Report, writes that, “the athlete is left with feelings of loss and a loss of purpose, and often asks himself or herself, silently, Now what do I do?” With intense schedules and training geared towards a stagnant goal for years on end, most athletes “crash” when they reach a peak in their career. We have seen this play out in the lives of many athletes in basketball, tennis, and boxing.
If athletes are liable to experience depression towards the end or during the fall of their careers, what is the best way for them to prepare, especially if they are already down the road? Mark Manson’s identity diversification theory might be the solution. This theory posits that the individual must see their life beyond the instituted goal. Instituted meaning the goal they have worked on for the duration of their life.
Manson writes about the American Football player Junior Seau, who committed suicide some years after retiring, and William “Refrigerator” Perry and his descent into depression after retiring from a long sports career. These men share the unfortunate commonality of a life without identity diversification, one where they focused on other things they cared about except sports. Manson posits that we must begin to give ourselves chances by honing in on the other parts of our lives which need work. The parts beyond our jobs, sports, exams lest we give only one thing meaning.