Keep On Running

Keep On Running

Something always comes up, one after the other, and I have only found one way to deal with it.
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Recently, I have found a new way to fulfill what little time I have. Well, it is not a new thing to most of you, but to me it is a visitation to my old days. I have taken up exercising for anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours a day.

It all started when the service VP from my sorority required us to do twenty miles for Alex’s Lemonade Stand- Childhood Cancer Research. She told us we could get up to five service hours for this project, and with a requirement of twenty-five hours a semester I needed all the hours I could get. Every ten miles equaled one service hour. On Labor Day weekend, I decided to stay at school for the weekend and spend time with friends versus going home. Two of my sorority sisters invited me to go hiking in the Smokies with them. Without hesitation, I agreed. As time went on, I was incredibly nervous for the experience. I gained beyond the freshmen weight that college students are stereotyped for. I had not worked on months. They told me it was an eight-mile hike round trip, and that it was easily doable. They convinced me that the view would be well worth it.

I woke up the next morning, and we drove to our destination. We hiked and saw one of the most incredible scenes of creation. I was amazed with not only the view, but also with myself and the journey I embarked. By the end of that day, after hiking and walking around campus, I finished with twelve miles in for the day. I liked the reward of how I felt after I did so many miles. The next day, I took a trip to the journey. I start off doing cycling. I on average would get eight to nine miles in. I also would walk three to four miles on campus. On top of that, every day, I tried to run at least one mile. By the end of the month I started adding in various ellipticals and further running distances. I complete September with over 300 miles of exercise. The start of October was a more motivating month. I desire to see a physical difference, so I pushed myself more and more. No matter how much I would like you and myself to believe that my intentions for running and exercising are due to a desire in physical change. However, it goes deeper than that.

Tying my shoes, putting on headphone in each ear, I am preparing to escape my overwhelming, unnecessary stress. This is what happens when I go exercise. I walk into the gym, and I go directly to whichever machine I choose. I throw myself into what I am doing simply to avoid thinking. Drowning myself in the music, eliminating all distractions. Sometimes I read a book when I am cycling. I go through notecards as I am running. I repeat acronyms to prepare for a test as I am on the CrossBuilder. I have chosen to bottle up all of my stress and use that energy to be productive and go further than I ever imagined. I have learned to keep running. When I realize the realities of things I put on the back burner, check my bank account and notice I have less money than I thought, see the fullness of my calendar, or unwillingly face the uncertainty of what will happen in the future I grab my running shoes, fill up my water bottle, and push through the pain.

For some people, running is to keep them in shape. For others, it is to prepare them for a sport. For myself, running is the best way for me to cope with my stress. I can push through the mental and physical pain while seeing an end result. After a good exercise, I feel as if I can conquer the day. I forget why I was so worried about financial means or what I have to complete. It is almost as if I cannot be content. Something always comes up, one after the other, and I have only found one way to deal with it. Running. I keep on running. I run until I cannot anymore. Then as those thoughts slip back into my mind, I run again. Some of you will tell me to grow up, and deal with my stress but when I cannot put into words what I am so worried about there is no way I can fix the problem. I have to run and run until I feel safe with my thoughts or until I have eliminated them. I keep on running.

Cover Image Credit: Adrianna Roberts

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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