The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
The first time I can recall experiencing failure was during middle school cross country. During morning announcements, the school’s cross-country team was advertised. The coach’s voice radiated through the speaker system. He enthusiastically emphasized that everyone made the team, and there were no cuts. I looked around my class to notice smiles and nodding heads. I decided I wanted something to do after school that seemed somewhat low-pressure.
My parents were immediately excited that I wanted to pursue something athletic, as all of my energy had previously been spent on academics. My dad bought me bright pink running sneakers and told me he would be at every race. I was eager to make my parents proud.
As daily practices began, I could feel my body slowly breaking down. I was envious of my friends who could run for miles and barely break a sweat, as my face turned bright red after just several minutes of jogging. Everyone else made the sport look effortless. I made it look impossible. I came in last place for nearly every major race. I told my parents and family not to attend any of the meets since there was no point in watching me stumble to the finish line with tears in my eyes. My friends and family were supportive nonetheless, though I knew that the sport of running was not for me.
My parents instilled in me the value of persistence. If I had elected to start a club or activity, it was my duty to finish it — at least for the time being. For the next three months, I felt I was being tortured. My coach was kind, though, it was evident that his first priority was the students who had the potential to one day become D1 runners.
Like every bad experience in life, it eventually ended. I put away my running shoes and vowed never to run again. I watched as some of my best friends went through middle and high school running programs in order to be recruited to run in college. I envied them. As my body grew, I felt I would never be as athletic or as graceful as my athlete friends who seemed to make running look effortless.
After years of resenting my athletic capabilities, I decided to change the narrative. I decided to try running again, but this time, for myself. I did not want my running to be a competition of speed or distance. Instead, I simply wanted to challenge my body and mind to form a positive connection with an activity that once brought me agony.
I bought myself solid running shoes and curated a running playlist. Now, I run on treadmills and trails to push myself and achieve the coveted “runner’s high” rather than to beat records or win competitions. I admittedly cannot run fast or for long, but that doesn’t matter to me. I am most proud of taking an activity I once dreaded and shifting my outlook on it. Running is now my primary source of stress relief.
In life, we are presented with situations that are beautiful, rewarding, and exciting. On the other hand, life can throw the most unexpected, unfair, and demanding circumstances. Through both the good and bad, we have the power to choose how we view our situation. In my case of running, I have learned to be grateful for everything, even the activities that challenge me. Running allows me to celebrate my body and the amazing gift of movement that so many take for granted every day.