A Declaration of Self by Olivia

I know this might not seem like a running story, but I promise it’ll get there. Running has been a part of my life since before I can really remember. I didn’t always accept it, but it was there. It wasn’t until I was on a team that I really started to realize what running meant to me. In middle school, I was bullied a lot. I wasn’t a very attractive kid, and I was very awkward, so I was an easy target. I didn’t have many friends (most of the ones I had still weren’t very kind), and I had very low self-esteem. I was kinda broken at that point; I mean to be told you’re nothing when you don’t even know who you are is pretty messed up. But when I got into 7th grade and was old enough to join the middle school cross country team, I had my first taste of true friendship in a long time. Everyone on the team actually liked me, and I was doing really well in races. I had found something I was good at and people to share it with. I may not have loved myself as much as Kayne West loves himself, but hey, I was getting there and running was a big part of that. My teammates were always supportive, even when I considered doing soccer in high school or when I came out as gay (even the teammates I accidentally hit on *whoops*.) In high school, my teammates were my best friends, and they still tackle me when I come home from school.

My high school teammates and I after conquering a Youngstown Invite.

My high school teammates and I after conquering a Youngstown Invite.

There was, however, one thing I never felt support for when I was in high school that I feel now here at Running Club. I’m from a small town, and many people are more right-wing than usual, and in my school, there wasn’t a big support for trans people: students had a petition going around to get a trans guy kicked out of school, and a different trans guy changed schools from bullying. My team was better but as someone who is non-binary coming out was hard. I wanted to tell my teammates, but that was never a part of myself I felt I could share with them, especially since I really struggled with my gender identity through high school. In the end, truthfully, I didn’t tell them because I was really scared. I was scared of abuse, I was scared of being shunned, and I was scared of losing my friends. I love the girls on my old team with all my heart, and they have gotten me through some of the worst times of my life, but I truly think I could not have had with them what I have here with running club. I haven’t been here that long, but I just wanted to tell anyone out there who is trans that I feel safe here. I have experienced my fair share of hate, but here I have not experienced any. I can say that Running Club is a place where I have no fear to declare myself.

Me (pink polo) and the other awesome officers.

Me (pink polo) and the other awesome officers.