By Toni Carey
I wish someone had told me at the age of 33, I'd re-discovering myself. Perhaps this is something that happens with every turn of the decade after the age of 10, but being yourself is hard. Discovering who you really are is even harder.
You may be thinking, what does this have to do with running. How does being myself or being authentic relate to running a 5K or a marathon?
It, my friend, has everything to do with it.
The further I travel down the road to self-discovery I keep coming back to these key questions:
[xyz] can be anything, especially when it comes to running.
I see it time and time again, especially with my own running journey. Oftentimes, the races and the miles aren't necessarily for my health or well being, it's to prove something. Whether it's proving something to myself ("if I can run this distance then it means I'm worthy" or to others "if I run this distance, people will think I'm more valuable"), we often set goals based on other people's expectations, whether it be your friends and family or the world.
Recently I've been grappling with how I show up in the world. As a black woman, it's tough and I found for many years, I was just playing out the role that people (and the world) would expect me to play. I'd shrink in the background, or conveniently change my opinion or disapproval of a subject because it was easier that way.
But one day, I woke up and began asking why.....OF EVERYTHING! One of the most important why's I asked was, "Why do I run?" Before we began Black Girls RUN!, running was a source of therapy and solitude. It was a place I could retreat while honoring my body. But with the increase of popularity in BGR! it quickly became my duty....a chore. I was putting in miles and miles because frankly it's what people expected of me.
It's no surprise that I lost my love of running, and subsequently lost my why.
With social media and the globalization of the word, it's become harder than ever to be yourself. It's challenging to scroll through Instagram and not compare yourself to your friends or random strangers who appear to have it all together.
But if there's one thing that you should know, it is that the world needs you....it needs your authentic self. And while it may be tempting to compare your running journey to others, realize that this is YOUR journey. You can go as fast (or slow) as you want.....as long as it's what YOU want.
So, whether it is running or something else, I encourage you to come back to these three questions:
It's the consistent compass that will keep you on the path to being yourself.