A Note About This Feature: Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about. Currently, the focus is on running
I like proving people wrong. I like shattering stereotypes. I like challenging tired, old notions.
I sound pretty antagonistic, don’t I?Maybe I am. But, really, I think I’m just someone who likes to push against boundaries a little bit – for the sake of opening minds, so to speak. I don’t pick fights and I don’t defy for the sake of defiance, but I do debate and I’m not afraid of encouraging new ways of thinking. This approach certainly has had an impact on my journey to becoming a runner.
Until recent years, I was not a physical person. Beyond some sad (albeit fun) attempts at casual basketball, I was never involved in sports. I had sporadic periods of fitness, but they didn’t last. What I was was bookish. Intellectual. Intuitive. Always adrift in my mind, but not really present in my body.
Now, though, I’m all of those things – all of what I was and what I wasn’t. I guess there came a point where (whether I realized it or not) I had something to prove. I wanted to break out of the box that I was supposed to fit in and shut down all the voices that had said “You can’t.” Because even though it’s not as if anyone ever set me down and said, “Shannon, you cannot be a runner!” in such a matter-of-fact fashion, I certainly did get that message time and time again. As we navigate through the world, we get so many messages about who we are and are not supposed to be, about what we are and what we are not. You know these messages. They come from all around us. They come from family, friends, teachers, bosses, television, magazines, film, and just about every other place you can imagine.
Like the rest of you I’m sure, I’ve received hundreds of these messages in my life, some of which I’ve shaken off and some of which have entrenched themselves in my perceptions and self-image. The messages that most penetrate are the ones that box you in. I was in such a box.
And I didn’t like it.
My box was filled with messages that told me (among other things) I could never be a runner. Messages such as these:
- I was brainy, so I couldn’t also be athletic.
- I was getting older and people don’t just start something like that after 30.
- I didn’t have a body that was built for running or other athletic activities (I mean, in all honesty, when you have to look as hard as I have to find a sports bra that fits, that’s a message, people!).
- Being fit was only about looks and size and, as a feminist, I wasn’t supposed to be concerned about appearance or weight.
- Running was for people with a certain level of affluence – people who had spare time on their hands, not for people who always worked two jobs and juggled a full schedule.
Before I knew it, as so often happens, I bought those messages and I lived in that box. My own voice became the strongest messenger of them all. I believed that running was NOT for me. But then one day I ran. Then I did it again. Now, I do it all the time and I love it. I don’t just run, in fact, but I am a runner. I busted through that box, shut down the “You I can’ts” and it felt good.
Suddenly, I was more myself than ever. I was that person who challenged antiquated ideas and pushed against stereotypes. I proved naysayers wrong (including myself) and learned so much about who I am and what I can do. Best of all, I continue to do it every single time I lace up.
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