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My junior year of college I was depressed.
On the outside I had everything I needed to be happy. To an onlooker I appeared to be an ordinary and happy college student. I was succeeding in my courses, my boyfriend and I at the time seemed happy, and I was doing well on my collegiate swim team.
I had everything, and yet I had nothing. My life was repetitive and I found myself slowly losing confidence in myself and everything around me. I was craving a change but didn’t know what. After weeks without leaving my dorm room, pushing friends away and yet another fight with my boyfriend, I did something unthinkable.
I laced up my cross-training shoes and went out for a run. I was never a runner and struggled to pass the high-school mile test only a few years prior. I ran about a mile, and it took me 15 minutes. I came back to my dorm room and felt liberated. Running was different from everything. I had 15 minutes to myself. I thought about everything but worried about nothing. A worry-free thought was something I had lacked for a long time.
Throughout college I continued to run. I signed up for a 5K because I wanted a T-shirt. I ran when I had boyfriend issues or needed to get mentally away. I ran when I wanted to let math problems and courses simmer in the back of my mind. I ran when I just wanted alone time with no one else around. During each of my runs, my mind wandered and allowed me freedom from myself. Each run was worry- and stress-free. Each run brought me joy I had previously lost. The more I began to run, the more I liked it. The more clarity and confidence I saw in myself. Running allowed me to find the confidence I had lost months prior.
That was five years ago, and I’ve been through so much with running since. I’ve had highs and lows, I’ve set PRs and had multiple injuries, but it still brings me joy. I’ve run multiple races with both my father and brother. I even met my now husband through running. Running brings me clarity when I need it most. Whether I need alone time to let my mind wander or whether I need time just to get away. I run because it makes me happy. I run because of the relationships I’ve fostered and clarity it provides me. Running is such an intricate part of my adulthood life that has given me so much.