Graduation woes, runners’ toes and finding your passion

DSC_0006My most recent commentary published in The University News. Enjoy!

When I was 12 years old they made us run a mile workout during track practice and I thought I was going to die. Yes, the younger me was a bit dramatic; but I was a soccer player and a sprinter, and to me, running a mile sounded like the worst thing in the world. You’d think I was running the Boston Marathon, when, really, the torture likely transpired for less than nine minutes.

But something changed, sometime between the summer before my freshman year of high school, when my mom forced me to run a two-mile loop with her everyday and I grumbled the whole time, and my last year of high school when I was captain of the cross country team, crying through my whole senior speech at our banquet. A love was born, a passion realized.

Like many good love stories, the falling was hesitant at first, then suddenly all at once. At some point I was no longer a girl that runs, but “a runner.” Running was no longer a chore, but an adventure, a form of therapy, a way to make friends. Sure, it was difficult. Yes, sometimes I’d much rather stay on the couch than take on that eight-miler. But I’d always pick myself up and take to the road. Why? Because I was a runner, and I knew I would feel a million times better with a couple more miles logged on my worn-out Asics.

So why is any of this of interest to you? Fear not, dear reader, I have a larger point to make.

When I came to college, I began running less frequently, due to injuries and other college distractions. I became a kind-of runner, if you will. Things changed two months ago, though, when I signed up for my first half marathon.

My training started on a frigid January day in Michigan, with a few inches of snow on the ground. It could have been terrible. It should have been terrible. But it wasn’t. It was completely exhilarating. Sure, I couldn’t feel my toes and my breathing sounded like a wheezing walrus by the end of three miles, but there was this pride in finishing something that completely terrified me. Suddenly, I wasn’t running just because, I was training for a bigger cause. Five-foot-two me faced the looming goal of 13.1 miles, and I was ready for the challenge.

Though my last semester at SLU has proven to be the most anxiety-ridden of my college career, I’m filled with an inner sense of peace. I may not know what city I’ll be in come June, if I’ll have a job, if I’ll go to graduate school, or if I’ll have to move back with my parents, but for a few hours a week, I have an escape. I leave the hectic world of constant emails, applications, networking and job fairs for one that involves only me. My only care is that my feet keep moving and my heart keeps beating.

And that’s what we as college students need! It doesn’t have to be running, it just has to be something. That one thing that you do, not to boost your resume or make the grade or impress your Facebook friends, but for you and only you. Something that is challenging, scary, rewarding. Then it doesn’t matter if you have one of those days where it feels like the whole world is working against you, because you have that one thing, all your own, to fall back on.

So I challenge you to find your thing. Get out and try something new, or maybe ignite an old passion. Do something that motivates you, keeps you disciplined. Because all of the resume-boosters in the world can never feel as good as setting a major goal for yourself, and working hard to achieve the hell out of it.

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