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On Developing Your Athletic Identity: The Value of Privacy

Updated: Apr 15

We just want someone we can…trust.


(If that statement alone doesn't carry a weight with it, this blog article may not be for you)


Being mindful of who you share your truths with

doesn't mean that you never share or you go through life under the limited belief that no one can be trusted.


Sometimes there is a bigger purpose in the lessons that you learn.

I used to feel a high desire to hide who I was related or connected to;

I didn’t want to cultivate fake friendships;

I didn’t want my privacy violated;

I didn’t want my intentions misunderstood;

I needed people around me who could understand

and who could get that my truths were protected and sacred.

Because one statement about me made public could tarnish my family’s image

and one statement could be misinterpreted and falsely represent who I am or what I represented.

The thing about being a Black Athlete or being connected in any way is there is a responsibility connected that is often misunderstood, taken too lightly, or not accurately reflected. There's a responsibility of legacy, of privacy, of protection, and of boundaries.


When anybody asks, why I exclusively serve Black Athletes, I don’t acknowledge my own personal experience in great detail.

There’s a certain #iykyk vibe that you just have to get.

There’s a protective atmosphere that goes beyond confidentiality, but more so is simply about trust.


As a Black Athlete your trust is built differently because you have more to protect:

Your standards,

Your image,

The you behind the performance,

Personal relationships,

The truths that you don't feel comfortable prioritizing over the fame,

Your focus,

Your discipline,

Your humanness,

Your humility,

The other parts of your identity,

The lessons you are still learning,

and

The ways you are still developing.


It's just a different set of boundaries.


There's a set of professions that people can actually clock out of, yet in the age of social media, there is not much clocking out when you have to constantly be on or feel a pressure to 'be on' so consistently. It's as if perfection is something you carry with you daily. It's as if you get used to being watched and under this notion of performance, even when you're not wearing the jersey/uniform.



There’s a fine line between vulnerability and transparency,

Between sharing your own narrative and choosing those you trust to share it with,

Between those who get it and those who fake it,

Between those who are charming and those who are real,

Between those who just want to exploit you and those you can actually have a genuine connection with.


Finding someone who gets it and who you can trust is sometimes like looking for a needle and a haystack.


I love to have fun and there’s a maturity to the title I carry.

Being a sports therapist is not for the faint of heart, neither is being a former black athlete who wanted to go much further, or being a relative of those who made it, or coming from a male-dominated family, or keeping your own mind when you don’t agree with leadership,

But I did it.

As I mentioned earlier, sometimes there's a bigger purpose in the lessons that you learn, which is another way of saying 'everything happens for a reason' or 'there are full circle moments in life.'


Because I have hidden and also been mindful of boundaries in valuing privacy, I also am trying to find the words to describe the experience, but #IYKYK.


What are reasons you were taught to protect your identity?

What does privacy mean to you?

How do you navigate balancing privacy within an age of social media?


Written by Kheri A. Corbin,

For those who identify as introvert or highly-sensitive and are trying to navigate fame and their athletic identity,

For those Black Athletes,

And the Ones who genuinely love them


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