“Marathon runner’s aren’t crazy. They’re stable geniuses.” This sign provided much needed comic relief at mile 9 of the Houston Marathon this past January. Comic relief because marathon runners are actually crazy. And comic relief because it was only mile 9- meaning I had 17.2 miles left to go.
I ran my first marathon at age 16 and have since run 17 marathons the past decade. Marathons are my favorite way to explore a new city, get a runner’s high (legalized in all 50 states) and collect an assortment of finisher’s t-shirts. On a deeper level, I’ve become obsessed with marathons because it’s a remarkable test of individual endurance, collective support, and the blind idealism that if you put one foot in front of the other, you will eventually cross finish lines that appear unattainable from the onset.
Much like marathon runners, millennials are “stable geniuses.” We are often portrayed as somewhat self-obsessed and blindly ideal. We are known for doing things for the sake of the Instagram and are accused of thinking that we can change the world with little experience and foolish ideas.
While there is often a nugget of truth to the generalizations, our generation is also one of entrepreneurism, defiance, and advocacy for equality. Although we can be associated with idealism and entitlement, my peers have also been some of the loudest in taking a stand, creating a movement, and standing up for our beliefs of what America should be during the tumultuous times our country has seen in the past year. Most recently, the generation below us has even taken the lead in organizing March For Our Lives, which had a a record turnout of 800,000 marching for gun-control in our capital. The conviction of our generation and of the ones below us is beautifully backed up with the belief that we can do anything- and we will make a change.
The Houston marathon in January was an absolute killer. Overconfident that I could just ‘wing it,’ each step after Mile 8 was a struggle. Sometimes, the ‘finish line’ for things we set out for in life may seem daunting and unattainable-so much so that it paralyzes most from taking the first step. Instead, if we let ourselves become absorbed in the excitement of the moment, and if we focus on the trust that we can put one foot in front of the next, we will eventually finish the race.
As millennials, we can be seen as self-obsessed (yes, many of us are) as we document our work on social media advocating for issues as we strive to make a change. Similarly to running a marathon, however, it’s an ‘unrealistic’ belief that gets us to start or join a cause, and this documentation of our journey that adds to the momentum of the movement and inspires other people to embark on their own crazy endeavors.
One of my other favorite signs from the Houston Marathon read “If Trump can run, so can you.” Regardless of the blind idealism of millennials, I am proud of those in my generation who aren’t afraid to lace up their shoes and take the first step toward creating a better tomorrow- no matter how far away the finish line seems.