By: Emery R.

     In May, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life thus far: choosing to quit swimming and devote myself to running full time; cross country in the fall, and track in the spring. To many people, it might not seem to be that big of a deal. After all, what’s one exercise for another? To me however, it was monumental.
            I have been in the pool since I was six months old. My mother began by taking me to the infant swim lessons held at the nearest YMCA, and then signed me up for swim lessons every year, until the age of 11, when I made my first foray into the world of competitive swimming. Eventually, at the start of eighth grade, I joined my first and last serious, year-round club, which I practiced with until the aforementioned four months ago, when I made the choice to leave.
            During my first two years of high school, I had split my time between running and swimming. It was a stressful balancing act, and I knew that I needed to pick between the two before 11th grade, a decision that I had dreaded since freshman year. There were many factors that contributed to my choice, but it ultimately boiled down to the question of what I enjoyed more. As it turned out, no matter how many times I reminded myself that I had focused on swimming for my entire life, I could not deny that I had fallen in love with running. And so, I traded the pool for tracks and trails.
            I do not regret that decision at all. Swimming was a huge part of my identity, and in some ways it still is. I felt like it was one of the things that made me unique, and that parting with it would mean parting with some integral piece of myself. But I don’t begin and end at whichever sport I participate in. I am my ethics; I am my values; I am my strongly-worded opinions; I am the choices I make; I am the joy of reading; I am my love for my family and my family’s love for me; I am so much more than just a sport.
Swimming is only a small percentage of who I am, and it didn’t actually feel like I was losing anything when I left. My sense of self hasn’t been completely derailed, and in fact, I feel more “me” than ever. I’ve gained a new team, I’ve gained more muscle, but most importantly, I’ve gained happiness. The girl who runs is radiant, and I am proud that I chose to be her.
The lesson here is to be active in your own life; don’t just be a passenger or a Sim. Seize the day and do what you want to do. Don’t keep doing something just because you’ve been doing it your entire life; change can be rewarding. It might feel like a large part of your identity now, but I can tell you, from personal experience, that if you’re choosing happiness, what you gain far outweighs what you lose.

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