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Hiding to Survive

Have you ever felt the need to hide?


The need to hide your desires, your authenticity, your identity, your needs, your voice, parts of yourself that may be vulnerable, met with shame, or that may expose you in ways that are deemed unsafe, or that may prevent you from excelling or maintaining the success you've obtained. Hiding behind your brand, your teammates, your team, your jersey, your helmet, your aggression, your scholarship, your defense mechanism, your money, your medals, your materials, your wins, your success, your fame, your relationships, etc.


Growing up, I was taught to hide and not share my last name. I was taught hiding was a way of protecting us from vultures: people out to get us for “making it out.”


Making it out the hood was a big accomplishment that everyone didn’t obtain.


The crabs in a bucket mentality was real and ingrained, so to be loyal to my family and our success, I chose to hide, especially if it meant doing my part to protect us and especially if it meant staying safe and surviving. Not hiding seemed costly and detrimental.


The issue came when I took hiding too far. I hid my awareness of my identity. I couldn’t hide my skin and that was evident but I hid behind white friends. I shrunk, which is just another form of hiding. I worked to fit in, another form of hiding. I thought the consequences of showing up, speaking out, standing out were too big and negative. I hid my family and personal relationships with professional and elite athletes. I even hid my intelligence. I also hid my desire to excel in sports. I hid behind what I knew would "rock the boat" or challenge the system. Hiding is a survival mechanism, a trauma response, but it was something I needed to release to thrive.


I learned the hard way that hiding worked then, but was no longer serving me now.


I still have to catch myself and remind myself that we’re not there anymore, but sometimes I’m triggered because of the reality that the system of sports, policy, America, life is not made for us to “make it out” of the oppressive nature of the system. If we get to “make it out,” we have to change our mindsets to “stay out.” Not hiding is still risky, yet revolutionary.


Your presence has purpose.

Your voice reinforces vitality.


Hiding,

Shrinking,

Not Speaking Up,

Not Rocking the Boat, and

Not Challenging the System

Are ingrained Survival Mechanisms that have the potential to keep us chained to the trauma we desire to be freed from.


Your presence validates another’s existence and your success exposes others to dreams that are bigger than their circumstances.


What have you hid behind to stay safe and successful?


What else is something that worked then (for your family or for you), but is no longer working now?



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