Maintaining Your Tuftsanity: Switchbacks

Is it always cowardly to run away? Lately, I’ve started to think running is the only thing keeping my head on straight.

I was raised to think that it’s shameful to turn my back on bumps in the road. If something was challenging, I was encouraged to embrace its difficulty until I had worked through it to the end. But there came a time when the bumps in the road turned to a mountain range, extending so far into the horizon I wasn’t sure if or when I’d reach the end of it. The views from the summit started to lose their glory, and I was left questioning if these hikes full of switchbacks and seemingly vertical climbs were worth it anymore. This heart-sinking realization left me moving so slowly that it felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere at all, and I became so exhausted that I began to fade right into the mountainside.

I think sometimes you have to make a run for it. To feel endorphins cruise through your veins once more, to wake up the muscles you haven’t used in a while. To take a leap straight off into a terrifying unknown, to dive right off the edge without a second thought. There may come a time when the path you’re on starts to feel more and more like cement gluing you in place instead of a current pushing you forward — this is the time to go for it.

You may have to run marathons before you find what was drawing you away. It will bring incredible exhaustion, but not the emptying kind. Rather, the kind that reminds you of the battle that is being human, and that even though you’re gasping for breath, you’re still in the race. If you’re lucky, that place you’re looking for may instead only be a couple strides away. No matter how close or how far, you have to recognize the time when you need to take that leap and break past the standstill.

Otherwise, you may get stuck there forever. And unless you’re ready to spread your roots in a more permanent state of existence, that’s the most terrifying thing in the world.

So here’s to those of us who haven’t found that place yet. To the people who are about to completely change their course, regardless of whether they know that’s the right move or not. To those who are daring to change, even if doing so makes them stick out like a sore thumb. There should be no shame in running away, in changing directions completely, if it means getting to where you want to be and not where others want to see you.

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