I was running this afternoon during a break from my studies when it began to rain. During the first Kilometer, it was merely sprinkling, but the farther away I got, the harder it rained. I turned a corner that marks the last two Kilometers of that particular route, and it began to rain hard enough to warrant me stuffing my iPod and Fitbit into my sports bra in an attempt to keep them dry.
Back up a little. Okay, a lot. I used to run cross-country in junior high and high school, and before that I played soccer. I had always been in decent shape, but during my sophomore year of high school, I had to make the decision to stop running due to my suffering grades, which were a result of severe depression caused by other issues. The loss of my physical activity took a severe toll on my emotions, but when I was able to get back into sports, I chose to dance for my high school drill team instead.
I don’t regret that decision at all, don’t get me wrong. Those two years were amazing, and I made lifelong memories and learned a few sweet moves in the process. Dancing is really fun and it requires a lot of discipline, but I never felt a burning passion for it the way I have felt for other hobbies of mine.
I longed to run again, but problems with my feet prevented me from getting back into it. I spent my first two years in college going through various treatments for my feet, from orthopedic inserts to cortisone injections to surgery to physical therapy. Finally, in 2012, I had my last round of surgeries, which corrected my issues but took over a year to fully heal (I still actually experience infrequent episodes of pain in certain areas that won’t ever go back to the way they were before).
I had also applied that year to study abroad in Tübingen, Germany, for the 2012-2013 academic year. I was accepted to the program and had begun making a few preparations, such as enrolling in a German class at a nearby JC to fit my schedule at SSU, renewing my passport, and visiting my doctor for a pre-departure physical. I was again experiencing depression at this time, and although it was not as crippling as it was when I was in high school, it was still having a detrimental effect on my ability to function. That, coupled with a slight fear that I had a brain tumor (that’s a story for another time) led my doctor and myself to decide that I should withdraw from the study abroad program. I did so, and because it was April and I had made no preparations for housing or classes in the fall, I also withdrew from SSU.
From 2012 to 2014, while my feet were healing, I was on an academic hiatus while I “attempted” to re-discover myself along with my desire to continue my education. I had lost the drive to learn, and that didn’t concern me at all. I was content to work a crappy minimum wage job, eat cheap food, smoke a lot of pot, and overall just do nothing but waste oxygen. I wasted two full years of my life because I lost sight of who I am: my values, my goals, and my standards for living and loving myself.
Last summer, I was shaken out of my state of delirium. I began to get myself back on track, and in the spring of 2015, I was re-enrolled at Sonoma State University and had applied to the study abroad program in Germany. Ever so slowly, the days, weeks, and months crept by until finally, I was waking up in a hostel in Tübingen, Germany.
I have been here just shy of three weeks now, and I have been enjoying myself thoroughly, but I had yet to be blown away by the “OMG I’m in Germany!” feeling. Having spent the past three and a half years imagining myself here, I was completely mentally prepared for the move, and I have simply been on cloud nine whilst walking up and down the crooked cobblestone streets beneath towering half-timbered houses and shops.
I have only just started running again here in my little village, Ahldorf, to train for a long race that takes place in September. This afternoon, I ate a huge Schwabisch lunch and spent a few hours reviewing my German lessons, and once my enormous meal was digested, I headed out the door for my run.
It was sprinkling when I began to run through the rolling hills that constitute the majority of Baden-Württemberg. It was raining pretty hard as I turned a corner that marks the last two Kilometers of my run, and I remembered something my host sister said when we first walked along that route: “I’m the queen of the world!”
I thought, just as I did the first time we walked there, about how beautiful everything is in Germany. At that part in the road, fields slope down from either side, and the winds seem to always blow at just the right velocity. The black forest can be seen to the south, and a few other villages lie in the distance to the north. One can smell the invigorating aroma of freshly churned earth from the recent harvest, and on that stretch of road, one really does feel like the queen of the world.
I haven’t run in almost eight years, and it doesn’t rain anymore in California like it did when I was in my first few years of high school. I remember very well running in the rain. It was always amazing, and I was never quite as happy while running as I was when it rained. Since arriving in Germany, I have quit drinking and smoking cigarettes (to those who didn’t know: surprise!), and I am working on getting back in touch with who I am. I am back in school, following my dream. I am living in a country that captured my heart many, many years ago. I am learning a language that I have only dreamed of speaking. And I am running again.
As I entered the last Kilometer or so of my run, it began to really pour, and I felt something overwhelming that I cannot put into words. Today, I felt the beginnings of a restored relationship with myself, a relationship that I have ignored for so many years. I felt the echoes of a self-love that only comes with living in sync with one’s own morals, values, and goals. I am taking care of myself in a way that I have needed to for so long.
I know that I am only at the beginning of a very long path, the foot of a very tall mountain. I have a lot to learn and experience, but I am confident that no matter what lies ahead of me, I am prepared to conquer it. Only positivity lies in front of me, because I am in control of my life, my emotions, and my reactions. I have been through and learned so much, and I know I can handle anything that comes my way. I’m tough, I’m resilient, and I’m smart.
And don’t forget, I’m the queen of the f*cking world.