Life is a lot like running. In high school, I used to be my cross country team’s captain. At my school, the high school cross country team was open to middle school students and I remember running my very first 5km race in the cool Autumn breeze of the 8th grade. At the time, I was oblivious to the necessary training and immense mental strength primarily involved in finishing a race. I figured I was young, agile, and fit enough to instantly become one of the faster runners. Plus, I had my lucky pair of running shoes on. Sadly, I was terribly mistaken. I recall sprinting at the starting line to get a head start and consequently shifting between brisk walks, quick spurts, and sluggish jogs. When I finally reached the finish line, there weren’t many people there. I thought it was because I was one of the first to finish. In my exhausted state, I had been completely unaware of the people that had zoomed and zipped passed right in front of me. Finish time: 46 minutes. Wow, I thought, I must be fast. For all I knew, running was a cinch.
I was so wrong. To my later embarrassment and horror, I found out that I had been one of the stragglers – the slowpokes. But instead of getting discouraged and quitting, I continued going to practice 4 times a week and races every Saturday – even if it was only to get my face so red that it looked like a gleaming ripe tomato. Or, to get that adrenaline rush that made my legs numb at the sight of the awaiting crowd and finish line. Slowly, but surely, I improved. I became faster. I started running without needing to stop or take walking breaks. Over the next few years and after countless practices and very many races, I trimmed my 5km time down to a solid 23 minutes 34 seconds. I realized that running, like life, came down to persevering, putting mind over matter, and finding the right pace.Each year is like a race. Last year, I thought valiantly to myself, 2011 is going to be a great year. It’s going to be my year, my race. With a strong finish to the Fall semester of 2010 and an out-of-state, or off-island, vacation awaiting me at the finish line, I rushed into 2011 at a sprint. Needless to say, it wasn’t everything I’d predicted not to mention, everything I’d hoped for. My hasty beginning left me winded. It led me to struggle yet again between brisk walks, quick spurts, and sluggish jogs. But it was, without a doubt in my mind, monumental. 2011 was a year of many; 2011 was when my blog started getting more recognition from those around me, I got promoted to a job that highlights my strengths and strengthens my weaknesses, I went through a heartwrenching break up that eventually unfolded into a rare, once-in-a-lifetime kind of friendship, I moved into a new apartment with
2… 3… I mean, 4 fun-loving & amazing roommates, I ditched school religiously, I had my share of “drama,” I found love (which I’m admittedly still learning to accept) in what literally was a hopeless place, I quit my 3-year hostessing job at the same restaurant, I worked full-time in high-end, luxury retail, I moved again, I graduated with honors (miraculously), and then – for the first time in 4 years – I returned to Korea and was briefly reunited with my family. It was the race in which I stopped and stalled, time and time again. I even took a number of short-cuts and detours that only resulted in my delayed arrival at the finish line. I persevered, but crawled like a beginner, gasping and panting, to the end of 2011. Continue reading