About a month ago, I went to visit my family in my hometown. My fitness regime had become a daily habit for me since the last time I went to visit them. I would wake up every morning, have a glass of water and head down to my apartment's gym. When I got to my parent's house, though, there was no gym so I had to run on the sidewalk around the neighborhood. This didn't seem like such a big deal until I got harassed while running.
Running early in the morning makes me a happier person. When I went to visit my family, I had just discovered my love for running, and I woke up really excited to do it every day. It feels so good to get my heart pumping and feel the dopamine rush. After running, I have more of a clear mind and can set my intentions for the day knowing that I already did something good for myself.
One day, though, I was running around my parent's neighborhood and I turned into a side street to add more distance to my run. As I was halfway down the block, I saw a red truck turn into the block in the corner of my eye. The driver pulled over right next to the sidewalk where I was running and waved at me. I kept running and called my dad because I was absolutely terrified. A smile and a wave could be harmless, but why had this guy pulled over right next to me? Was he following me? I was scared he might try to do something. My dad stayed on the phone with me as the driver drove down the block, made a U-turn, came back and pulled over by my side once again, even closer this time. The driver rolled down the window and motioned for me to come to him. I flipped him the bird and told him I was on the phone with my dad, and he sped off before I could get his license plate. My dad told me to stay on the main street after that, and I did. But I was so shocked and upset. I felt sick to my stomach and my heart was racing, but not in a good way.
I didn't feel completely safe. Part of me knew that the driver would probably not come back, but another part of me felt worried. This incident left me so conflicted. I was scared of going out for my run and being harassed by strangers, but I really love running. During my run, I found myself looking back and making sure nobody was behind me. Then, when I went running around the park to feel a bit safer, a trunk honked at me and the guy behind the wheel waved. I wanted to cry. I tried to remind myself that this isn't something I can control. I can't control other people's actions, so I tried to control my emotions. But even now, writing this, it makes me so angry. Why should I have to be scared of going for a run? Why are these men deliberately making me feel so uncomfortable? How many women feel unsafe just walking down the street?
These situations make me want to go running with a bag over my head and a potato sack covering my body. No joke. It's that uncomfortable. If you're a woman and you've ever stepped foot outside of your house, you know the feeling. These things happen too often and to too many of us. It shouldn't be a common occurrence for someone to honk or cat-call. It's not okay.
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