November 8, 2016 – my 23rd birthday and the election day for the Clinton vs. Trump presidency. Under these circumstances, you must be able to imagine just how excited I am for this day. Yet, this day has not been bothersome. Yes, the political opinions of others that have been shouted my way have been rather annoying, but I’ve given them all little consideration. I’ve instead spent the greater deal of my day considering the past months leading up to now.
In reflection, the past months have proved to have some noteworthy glimpses – graduating from Ithaca College, reaching some running PRs, and beginning to work full-time at Whirlaway. However, the past few months have seen some pitfalls as well. One of the most recent events has been my bout with runner’s knee (patellar tendonitis). To say that this has been a burden on me is obvious, though what might be less intuitive is exactly how it has burdened me. Besides the physical pain it has inflicted, the impairment has been especially noticeable in regards to my mental state.
Running is an outlet for me. It is an isolating part of my day, yes, but it’s an isolating activity that I look forward to. As secluded as it can be, I never feel alone while I’m doing it. The physical motion, step for step, provides me with an incredible sense of balance. It allows me to have hours of my day that are specifically for me – reflecting on my day or thinking of the future as I stride across a variety of terrain. It is in this sense that running permits me escape from the daily monotony of life; it provides perspective.
Having that outlet taken away, I have found it difficult to find such mental clarity from day to day. Other activities, such as walking, allow for a similar sense of head space, but a decidedly different one. Reading, writing, and playing music have always provided an outlet for me – allowing for me to express myself through my own personal efforts, or the work of others. They’ve allowed me to better understand myself and others. Unique to running, however, is its ability to quell loneliness, and this injury is making that singular benefit of running all the more clear to me.
The concept of loneliness isn’t something that’s uncommon to me, it’s something that I know rather well. Yet, as familiar as the feeling is, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.
Of late, I’ve felt its presence more and more. Those books that I have been consuming, previously considered out when running, feel much more isolating when stuck at a desk, staring at an empty wall while contemplating its meaning. That music that I have been meddling over, previously hummed while out running in the woods, is now much more difficult to relate to when sitting around the house. Those outlets have been stripped away, stealing a bit of my sense of worth at the same time. It’s easy enough to tell yourself that the activity itself is not definitive to who you are, but it doesn’t make dealing with the loss any easier – there’s now a feeling of emptiness in what was once so emphatic.
There is a great deal of difficulty in finding joy in a life in which one of your dearest passions is suddenly gone. There must be a fault in allowing my inability to run affect me so negatively, but running is one of my most personal ventures, wherein I can be me – feeling an innate sense of weightlessness and bliss while tearing ass down a steep hill in the middle of nowhere.
What is becoming increasingly apparent is my reaction to this developing sense of loneliness and depression, one in which I attempt to my remove myself from my surroundings. Understandably, running could be considered such an act, a means of literally running away from daily life and its mechanisms; however, I consider it to be different. This response to conflict has been a condition of mine since childhood; I’ve always found it easier to remove myself from a situation rather than to deal with an encounter directly. People fighting down the hall? I’ll just escape to my room and read. Stuck at a party and fatigued by conversations? I’ll just remove myself silently and walk home, considering the previous situation. Sick of the day and wishing to transport myself somewhere else? I’ll just grab my guitar and disappear in music.
The upside to this form of escapism, in dealing with my depression, is that I have focused more on bettering myself through my absorption into some task rather than depressively dwelling on what is plaguing me. The downside, however, is that I further isolate myself from those closest to me. I’ve certainly had my fair share of acting out in such a way, whether losing energy when spending time with friends, being self-centered when it comes to relationships, or purging people from Facebook and other forms of social media so not to deal with the engagements of others. The issue that arises from this behavior is that I enter my own personal purgatory – left to my own thoughts with few people to communicate with. I am eternally grateful to those who have stuck by me and have allowed me to be incredibly honest and open with them; however, there have been some relationships I have strained by being too dependent on specific friends, or past friendships I have burned because of my miscommunication while dealing with my own personal struggles.
This has been an issue I’ve been dealing with for some time now, and I believe I have found some resolve within. However, since leaving college and moving back to suburbia, I’ve become more isolated than before – losing a wealth of friends that lived within walking distance of each other, wrapped tightly within a liberal college town. I now live within an area in which meeting with friends requires the use of a car, and where the towns are comprised of families with elementary aged children or seniors enjoying the Massachusetts lifestyle.
My goal in creating this blog is to reinvigorate those relationships I have strengthened, strained, or lost, while finding some others that could be out there. Whether or not people read this, it’s a way for me to be more vocal, escaping the isolation that are my thoughts, and presenting my thoughts to others. Posting, and thereby being more social, is a way to disassemble these internal walls that continually separate myself from others. It is also to share my stories with others, for I understand that my emotions and experiences are not singular–tragically, in fact, they are quite representative of the human condition. By bearing myself and my work, I hope that this blog will allow for me to connect with others, and in doing so, progress the notion that we’re not alone and that there are others out there, just the same as us. Maybe we just have not met them yet.