Every Saturday, I run with Frontrunners, a gay running club in Boston. I hop out of bed at 7 am, quickly eat breakfast, and meet the group for a scenic six mile run around the Charles. Afterwards, we grab lunch and sit in a local park to chat about life (or whatever gay topic comes to mind).
I didn’t join the club because I was looking for a boyfriend or some action, as one may think. Truthfully, I joined because I felt like my life was missing something.
My first year out of college was difficult. At times, I felt lost and aimless. I struggled with mental health issues and dating anxiety (among other things), and to be blunt, I had NO fucking clue how to live my life without the rigid routine of college. I didn’t know who I should be or who others expected me to be, and I didn’t know how to create a sense of purpose for myself.
Once I began therapy and started settling into post-grad life, I decided I needed to create that sense of purpose. I scoured the web for solo activities and social groups to join, signed up for a couple of design workshops, and began to write creatively again.
I discovered Frontrunners upon a simple Google search for “run clubs in Boston.” While I was uncomfortable with the idea of joining a gay social group by myself, I knew I needed to give it a shot. And so, I joined Frontrunners. I joined to expand my social network and make friends and acquaintances outside of school and work. I joined to meet other gay people in a positive, sober setting. I was tired of only experiencing and nurturing my queer identity in bars and clubs, places where I have to drink heavily just to fit in and feel comfortable. But most importantly, I joined to prove I could show up for myself and step outside of my comfort zone.
I also wanted an excuse to stay in (and sober) on Friday nights. And what better excuse to stay in than having to get up at 7 am for run club?
What I love most about running club is that it’s consistent and mine. Every Saturday, I meet up with other gay people to do something I love: run. It’s something I do for myself—on my own. And what’s great is that it’s a social activity unlike any other I do. In a group of 10-15 runners, I’m one of two guys in his early twenties. Most are between the ages of 30-50, and so I’m able to chat with older people about shared life experiences, and learn things from people who are wiser and more experienced than me.
Run club (along with therapy) has taught me how psychologically rewarding it can be to show up for yourself and try new things. It’s taught me to recognize the things I don’t like about my life or current circumstances, and take active steps toward making things better. Because the reality is, things don’t get better unless you do something about them. You should take steps, baby ones or big ones, toward what you want to accomplish or achieve. Whether it’s a running club, therapy, an art class, or a creative project, you should invest your energies into the things that will bring you joy. And once you start investing that energy, trying new things and putting yourself out there only becomes more natural.
I know showing up for yourself isn’t always easy. It’s hard to motivate yourself to act, especially when you’re already exhausted and overwhelmed by everything else going on in your life. It’s tempting to quit or go back to your old habits if the positive change doesn’t occur as quickly as you want it to. It’s disheartening when those positive changes aren’t always as positive or great as you thought they’d be.
But showing up for yourself is better than not showing up at all. Taking a risk and investing energy into something new is so much better than sitting around and hoping things will change for the better. And waking up at 7 am for run club is INFINITELY better than rolling out of bed at 12 pm to throw up last night’s pizza and tequila shooters.