That whole “fight or flight” instinct comes over us in many instances, and sometimes it’s more sensible to hightail it out of there.
But many more times, it’s better to stay and fight.
I love running. A lot. I know it’s an activity many people dislike, and it’s often used as a form of punishment in other sports, but somewhere along the way, it turned into one of my favorite things to do.
But I’ve learned that running can’t be the answer for everything in life.
I think running away is a tactic many of us use in situations we don’t want to face. My years in college were not always my favorite times in life, and I started running away from a lot—especially from fears of the unknown. When various things started to shake up my world, I simply left. When Texas A&M felt overwhelming and threw me multiple rejections from the student organizations I had applied for, I thought I had made a bad decision in allowing a coin flip to decide where I went to college, and I ran away. When I was back at A&M (yes, for the second time), and I found out my major was being discontinued (and my class would be the last graduating class) and that the structure of the program was going to be modified, I panicked and thought I was in the wrong place completely, and so I ran away—again. I ran away from SMU when I thought I was missing out on going to school with my sister at TCU. I ran away from TCU when I realized it wasn’t everything I thought it would be and experienced the worst semester of my entire life.
I spent four years never feeling like I fully belonged anywhere simply because I kept running away.
I used to run away from my fear of rejection, as well. A middle school dance left me scarred and certain that guys don’t like me, and so I always tried to hide my feelings and crushes after that point. When I was a freshman in high school, I was walking through the halls one day and saw a guy I had a crush on walking the opposite direction. We were the only two in the hallway, and rather than simply passing by him and saying hello, I dodged into the nearest classroom—which was a science class full of seniors—in order to avoid that situation. I ran away from what I thought would be a sure future rejection.
More recently, I ran away from the fear of anxiety. I’ve mentioned before that I had a gun pulled on me a little more than a year ago. For months after it happened, I was pretty afraid every morning when I went running and often had to resort to running on the treadmill because of intense anxiety that overcame me some mornings. I had literally run away from the gunman, but then I thought I had to run away from a city I love. While I definitely needed a safer place to live, I don’t think running away completely was the answer.
Because running away doesn’t always mean you’ve escaped what you’re running from in the first place.
In some areas of my life, I’ve gotten a lot better about facing what I need to face rather than running away. I’m not the girl who would hide in a science classroom anymore. I’ve put myself in situations that came with chances of rejection and gotten rejected—and I guess I survived. But I think there are certainly many areas that I still need to work on, especially when it comes to things that have the possibility of failure.
I think the only person who can communicate this more clearly is the beautiful Matthew McConaughey in the closing scene of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Andie is trying to peace out of town, but Ben won’t let her and accuses her of running away. Please watch this memorable scene with me. Perhaps sometimes when we are running away from things we really shouldn’t be running away from, we simply need to ask ourselves, “Where are you going?”
Or if you want to throw it back to the Hoobastank days, you could ask, “Why are you running away?”
Running will only take you so far. Are there things you should legitimately run from in life? Absolutely. But oftentimes we’re just running to try to get away from situations we ultimately need to face.
If only we all had our own Matthew McConaugheys to call our bluffs.