It was the fall of 2012, and I was completely lost. I couldn't find a f* to give about myself. I just moved back home from College, SUNY Buffalo, and I had no sense of who I was, where I was going and how I would get there. Back when I couldn't afford a phone to download the NIKE Running app, I would head out the house in some Jordan V's and just run. Not to stunt or anything, those were the only shoes I had. I had no distance goal, no idea of my pace and no concept of proper technique. I was just running. In my head, running meant getting out of the house and finding myself. I was going somewhere. Where-I don't know. I had a good job, then didn't. I fell in love, then I wasn't anymore. Reconnected with "friends", just to learn we weren't close at all. Went to church to find God, just to spend months away because I was afraid to face my own realities.
At every opportunity I had to grow and make progress, I would stumble over a hurdle. Any help I would receive from family members or friends, I would eventually take for granted, and end up hurting them. You see, I was lost. No idea of who I was anymore. No understanding of where I belonged, or what I needed to do to get wherever "there" was. For all of my life, up until then, I knew exactly who I was. And for the first time in my life, I looked in the mirror and didn't know who I saw. I lacked an Identity. I lacked a purpose. I lacked courage and faith. I was, at least I felt like, a coward in every since of the word.
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I went back and forth in my thoughts. Should I go back to school and become a lawyer? It sounded good. I helped my ex-girlfriend do it. I have a cousin and several close friends and immediate family who are attorneys. Yeah I'll do that...NO! Oh, maybe I'll work in Digital Ad sales! You know, my banking background and natural sales attitude could land me a lucrative career working at a cool startup...But NO! Oh, I'll go to the NFL! Yeah, I'll train, diet, and impress scouts at the combine. I have the size, i'm fast. Yeah, lets get it Dugg!
All of these "options" ran through my head. At one point I concentrated all of my forces into accomplishing each of them. None of them would ever be successful though. Mainly because I kept looking in everything except within myself for answers. I kept seeking validation in acquiring a title. I wanted to do things because I knew other people would respect it. I desperately wanted to show others that my plan attempted Plan B was better than their executed Plan A.
I heard once that in dire times when you need a sign, that's when they appear. Well there came a night when it all just hit me. Up until my "AH HAA" moment, I spent most of my nights moving around: partying, drinking, dating, studying, hustling and other habits that didn't make me happy. I've always enjoyed a rather simplistic life. I love to read, write, listen to early Jay Z, watch Charlie Rose on PBS, listen to the rain fall, and watch NFL network, play Basketball and listen to cook. Above all, the thing I enjoy most is my solitude. I move better when I'm alone. I've always been that kind of man.
In the beginning of 2014, I registered for the Brooklyn Half Marathon, and wanted to make sure I didn't make a fool of myself. It was my then girlfriend's idea. I began training and with my dedication to that race, my life slowly began to improve. Now, by no means am I some new person, or am I no longer incapable of shortcomings. But since I was blessed with finding the culture and lifestyle of running, my life has improved significantly. There is a mental toughness that is required to be a distance runner. It takes consistency and perseverance. There is an inherent discomfort that you experience as a Distance Runner. It never gets old. It never becomes easy. It is this unavoidable discomfort that will either made you or kill you. The strongest runner is strong in mind. They embrace the discomfort. They run fearlessly, knowing the journey will get dark before there's a glimpse of light.
The ability to willingly submit to a cause that inevitably bring pain is rare. You have to be somewhat Those qualities, and others, have helped me be a better person. Above all things, running allowed me the space to get to know myself. If you grew up in a house with five siblings (I love them all) you would appreciate some solitude too.
Clarity, patience, peace of mind, are just a few of the traits that I have rediscovered and applied to my everyday life. Running helped me grow and find myself. Running allowed me the space and peace of mind to see situations objectively for what they are, and not what I want them to be. My journey is just getting started, but boy, I'm looking forward to it. I'm a better person because of running. Just imagine the person I'll be once I become a better runner. The transition...