The Last Leg of a Marathon | Teen Ink

The Last Leg of a Marathon

October 9, 2021
By notesappfiction SILVER, Bryan, Texas
notesappfiction SILVER, Bryan, Texas
7 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
It's funny. When you leave your home and wander really far, you always think, 'I want to go home.' But then you come home, and of course it's not the same. You can't live with it, you can't live away from it. And it seems like from then on there's always this yearning for some place that doesn't exist.

Junior year of high school is the last leg of a marathon. Everyone tells you that you need to finish strong. The crowd is gathered at the finish line; if you fall apart now you’re not going to impress anyone. It doesn’t matter that you just ran a marathon if all people see is you huffing and puffing, stumbling over your own feet as you slowly creep towards the finish line. What’s impressive is starting slow, pushing through, and strutting across that finish line. That’s the kind of big finish people tell you colleges are looking for, that’s the kind of finish that gets you places. 

That’s the kind of finish I would’ve had; Four AP classes, varsity cheer, theatre, NHS.  But then it all disappeared. One second I was in the middle of a cheer routine and the next thing I knew, I had a concussion and post concussion syndrome (headache, nausea, an inability to handle normal light and sound levels, and the loneliness of being a stranger to yourself).

You’d hope the crowd would be understanding, and appreciate that, despite being kicked in the head during a marathon, you reached the finish line. Hopefully the crowd is willing to give credit where credit is due and look at the first 25 miles, disregarding the fluke of a little temporary brain damage, right?

Crawling the last mile of a marathon can teach you a lot, and hopefully those lessons count for something too, because trust me, they were not easy lessons to learn. 

My junior year was supposed to be a fantastic sprint. I was fully intending on doing cartwheels across the finish line. Instead it was more like a horrible YouTube fail video, where you know things are going to get bad, but you keep watching, and then somehow everything manages to get even worse.

There are weeks I can’t remember, and days I look back on not even recognizing who I was. And I can’t leave out the best part; the pain. If you were wondering, constant migraines are not fun. I wanted to give up. I could see the finish line, but I could also feel my brain betraying me. The road in front of me was paved with glass. I knew there would be no cartwheels in my future anytime soon, and I thought that meant it was over.

But then the unprecedented happened; COVID19. For some the pandemic was the end, for me it was a wake up call, a new beginning. I had a decision to make. I could lay down, one mile away from the finish line, and give up, or I could push through.

I saw the finish line, and for a while I sat down and felt sorry for myself. But then I remembered I didn’t run a marathon on a whim. I wasn’t running because I had to. I was running because I wanted to, because I was passionate about it. I got up, dusted myself off, and I walked across the finish line. I wasn’t cartwheeling, but I was finishing.

I used to be paralyzed by the idea of failure, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I didn’t know how to live with trying and failing, so I just stopped trying. Of course, that was before I had to take two AP tests at home because of COVID, sitting in my bathtub to find solace from the chaos of home renovations. That’s the importance of perspective.

I’ve realized learning is a marathon that I want to run for the rest of my life, even when it’s hard, and everything aches, and all I can think about is going home and crawling into my bed and pretending that the rest of the world doesn’t exist. I may not have finished big, but I finished, on my own, of my own volition, and I think that’s more important.

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