School was hard today; long homework assignments on top of essays on top of tests on top of projects and, to make my day more stressful, I spent hours anxious and worried about fears in my head. To top it off, I skipped lunch to try and end a relationship with a boy without hurting his feelings, but it made the situation worse. By my last class period, my brain was throbbing wanting to explode and my anxiety was through the roof.
I wanted to lay in bed and cry, but I thought of a semicolon and put on my running clothes.
This is where my day started to change.
I asked an amazing girl if she wanted to run with me, I knew she had to run today anyway because she is training for a half marathon, so I thought we could run together.
She said yes and we set off for a five mile run.
After about two hundred feet, a sharp pain in my calf that I get often when I run started to scream inside my leg. My negative mind set began to kick in. I’m going to slow her down… This run is going to suck. You’re not going to be able to do this. You’re such a slow runner. This is why your coach isn’t proud of you. This is why you won’t make it to CIF.
Luckily, I made an amazing decision: I took a deep breath, cast out the negative voices, and just kept running.
My running parter and I talked about school and life and running. We talked until we both fell silent as we slipped under the spell of running: our movements connected directly to our breath, the pain became a faint feeling instead of an all-encompassing sensation, our foot steps made a clip-clop clip-clop rhythm. Our breathing was all our mind focused on and we became encompassed in the aura of running.
Breath in, step step, breath out, step step, breath in, step step, breath out, step step…
My breathing was like a conductor and my footsteps were the orchestra.
I usually run alone and it’s crazy how much running with other people can change your running experience. Even when we weren’t talking, I felt like my running partner was there for me. If I fell, she would catch me. If I needed to slow down, she would stay with me. If I wanted to run ten more miles, she would run with me and I hope she knows that I would do the exact same for her. If you are reading this right now, I hope you know how grateful I am to run with you.
When you’re in the zen of running, you go with the flow, you are supportive of your peers, and you are supportive of yourself. This is how I was today.
My legs felt strong, my mind felt clear. I was next to an amazing girl, surrounded by beautiful scenery. I was happy.
Once we got to our destination, we bought drinks, smiled, laughed, talked, and stretched out our aching muscles.
Running is an unpredictable sport. Somedays you’ll run a mile and your legs will feel like lead. You’ll be miserable, in pain, and want to stop. Other days, you’ll run ten miles and feel amazing, like you could keep going forever.
On bad running days, your brain will say “stop running,” your body will say “stop running,” but you need to find it in your heart to say “keep running.”
Runs like today are the reason my heart says “keep running.”
After bad workouts, bad races, and times where I want to quit, I will think back to the run I did today and think: “Runs like that are why I love running.”
The definition of a semicolon is a punctuation mark indicating a pause between two main clauses.
Semicolons are useful in writing and are taught in English class, but, to me, they are much more than a punctuation mark.
A semicolon is a moment where a writer could have stopped, but they decided to continue on.
I am the writer and life is the sentence. I write a semicolon because I could end, but I will choose to keep on going.
I have struggled in the past with self harm and this metaphor helped guide me through it and become the happy and healthy person I am today. Although I no longer struggle with the impulses to end my life, the semicolon metaphor still applies to me more than ever. The semicolon is most commonly equated to mental health, suicide, and depression. To me, this symbol can be applied to everything.
In life ,I strive to be the best I can. The best athlete I can be, the best student I can be, the best person I can be, the best friend I can be.
When I’m on a run and want to stop, I picture a semicolon. I have the power to stop, but I have the power to keep on going. I will keep on going.
When I see a person who is sad, I picture a semicolon. I could just keep walking, but I can help them. I will help them.
When debating between taking the easiest route or the route that is harder but strengthens you as a person, think of a semicolon and always remember:
You are the writer and life is your sentence. Embody the meanings of a semicolon and keep on striving forward.
I’m really confused about how my life is going to go in the future. I know what I want to, I’m just not sure how I’m going to do it.
My plan was to go either UCSB, Stanford, USC, or a college in Australia to study Marine Biology and/ or Environmental Science. I would then go to law school and become an environmental lawyer. At college, I would swim and play water polo.
Well, now I’m really in to running. I love triathlons too. I know I’m going to play sports in college, but which ones?
Recently I’ve been thinking about become a humane officer. It pains me to know that so many animals are suffering and abused. I want to dedicate my life to stopping the cruelty that takes place everyday. I want to do this, but there are some issues.
A humane officer makes 32,000 dollars annually. I don’t have millions of dollars in family money, I don’t have a billion dollars in my bank account, and I want to stay in California. I’m afraid 32,000 dollars would not be enough to have a home, a car, and eventually kids.
So, my plan is now to stick with being an environmental lawyer. I still really want to be a humane officer though…
Again, on the topic of money, I realized that I’m not going to have enough money to go to any of the colleges I want to go to. I could go to junior college. It would save a lot of money and I can save up for my next two years at a university.
I also want to take a gap year and go to the Peace Corps…
Will I go straight to a four year school? I wonder where I’m going to live after college? What college am I going to go to? What law school will I go to? Will I still want to be a lawyer, or will my opinions change? What sports will I play? Will I have a boyfriend? Will I get married? Am I going to have kids? When will I retire? Will I become a humane officer?
I don’t know, honestly. But maybe in thirty years, I’ll come back to this post and reflect on everything I did or didn’t do.
Since I’m currently training by myself, I get to decide where I run. I avoid this road as much as possible. But during cross country season, when I’m at the mercy of my coaches, most of our workouts involve the road in some way.
Going down is smooth sailing. Going up is hell.
The road is more like a hill, a giant, mile-plus long hill. It’s on a constant incline and, as you get closer to the top, it gets steeper.
At first, I absolutely loathed this road.
I always hated it in the beginning, because it turned even my best runs turn into something that made me feel like I was putting myself through torture.
The road is sometimes unforgiving. The more you climb, the weaker your legs feel, the more your lungs burn, the more you feel like your brain is about to explode.
I used to fight it. Each day, I felt like I was preparing for this great battle, in which only one victor would prevail: me or the hill.
But, eventually, I started to realize that it wasn’t really a battle of physicality; it was more so a battle of wit. I learned to work with the road instead of against it and things started to make more sense.
I learned to take advantage of even the tiniest bit of downhill, to take the straightest line possible. I started to read the road, to take note of how it felt when I ran a certain way.
To this day, I still don’t like running it. But, I’ve learned how to do it properly.
The road used to be some foreign, intimidating beast that I thought I would never be able to understand. Now, I realize that it was really just an old, wise mentor for me, my very own Mr. Miyagi.
Last night, I was headed up the road on the bus and, as I looked out the window, I knew exactly what point we were at solely based on the glimpse I caught of the tops of the oak trees. It made me smile, seeing how far I’ve come.
The same miles of curving pavement that used to seem endless to me are now ingrained into my memory, including details down to which tree is positioned where on each corner.
The countless days of practice, all of the sweat-soaked t-shirts and aching muscles really did pay off, in so many more ways than for just my running.
If only I knew back then just how much I would come to understand the road and how much it would come to understand about me.
One of the most satisfying things for me as a horseback rider is when I make a breakthrough with the horse I’m riding.
Over the past four years, I’ve constantly ridden the same horse. Though I would never give up riding that horse until graduation comes, there wasn’t that much I could continue learning on him. One, he was too perfect of a horse and, two, I already knew every little aid, tick, and everything else there was to know about him, good and bad.
But, in November, 2018, I took up the opportunity to ride a second horse, one completely opposite from my slow and steady, older horse I’ve been riding all throughout high school.
And riding him has been a pain, but also I’ve become such a better rider in the process learning to ride a horse completely different.
There were days when I’d get off with sore muscles and complete frustration and dissatisfaction. Days when I had to fight with him just to get him to walk.
Last Saturday, however, I had a breakthrough. Though there were the moments when I had to fight him through the walk, there were only two of them versus ten or twenty. It was the best ride I ever had on him. I got him to easily canter from a halt, canter over ground poles, and do most of those things without any protest.
I hope I’m not jinxing my improvement with him by writing this, but I hope all the future rides are just as successful as this one or else I’ll just keep learning.
It’s a bad feeling. No, it’s an awful feeling. Yet I find myself facing it time and again. I’m currently sitting in the car feeling almost as shitty as how I performed today in practice. I could have gone harder… I should have gone harder. How can I strive to be the best if I’m not even giving my all?
The breakdown: the set was hard, I knew it would be a challenge, so I gave up. Looking back, the emotional pain now is far worse than the physical pain I would have experienced if I just kept trying. For me, muscle fatigue, not being able to breathe, the lactic acid burning in my throat, and the pain of pushing yourself to the limit is nothing compared to the pain I go through knowing I could have done better, knowing that I’m the one holding me back. Because I didn’t want to suffer through eighty laps on a challenging interval, I am currently suffering through the disappointment and regret of knowing I am hindering my growth.
You know that feeling when the teacher pulls out a test on the reading you were assigned last night but you didn’t do it, just because you didn’t want to. Not a great feeling. This got me wondering, if we know the effect of our actions, how come we still proceed in doing the easiest thing in the moment. Why not put in the ten minuets to read a chapter and feel confident when the teacher pulls out the test? Why not give your all in a work out, suffer through the pain and embrace it, to experience the rush of endorphins after and the confidence knowing you did your best?
After reflecting on my errors and embracing the sucky emotions I am feeling right now, I have a goal. Every time I feel like skipping a fifty, reading spark notes instead of the book, going easy instead of all out, not doing what I should just because I don’t want to, I am going to think. Think of how I will feel in the future, and ask: Is the emotional conflict that will take place in the future worth just doing whats right?