About 14 years ago I decided to start running. I wanted to fit into a pair of jeans I liked that didn't quite close all the way anymore. The jeans didn't fit anymore simply because my hips grew wider, and I eventually gave up on them. But I kept running.
Running on the streets of Mexico back then was not a comfortable experience for a young woman. Most women my age worked out within the safety of a gym. I liked the sense of freedom that running gave me, and I refused to relinquish my "right" to explore the city on my own wearing short spandex. I hear from friends that there are runners all over my home town now. I was a ahead of my times.
Just when I had gotten used to running on Mexico's streets, we moved to Seattle; more specifically, Kirkland. My first run in the USA started from our temporary hotel (La Quinta Inn) to the Kirkland library, where I would study for the TOEFL (a test for non-English speakers required for college applications). Running once more became uncomfortable. I could tell everyone knew I did not belong. Or at least I thought so. But once more, I refused to remain within my cocoon, and I slowly expanded my running territory. And so it was through running that I started to absorb American culture.
Among many other important lessons, I learned to say "on your left" when passing someone.
Running has given me the courage to explore, and the strength to overcome. And so what started as a childish desire to fit into the jeans of my teens, became the passion that allowed me to grow into who I am. Ironic.