“The pursuit of normality is the ultimate sacrifice of potential.”  Faith Jegede.

Let’s just get something out of the way.  I watched an episode of The Kardashians.  I don’t ever watch that show; you can choose to believe me or not.  But somehow the episode on Bruce Jenner discussing his struggle with gender identity called “About Bruce” was on my TiVo.  Within a few minutes of the episode starting, Bruce is recounting his Olympic days and running career, and he says, “They don’t know the struggle on the inside, so I just literally ran away from it.”

Pause, rewind, listen again.  Goosebumps.

I watch the entire episode, then immediately go on my computer and look up his interview with Diane Sawyer.  For some reason, I can’t figure out how to pause or fast forward it on my computer, which means I am up watching the entire show with commercials on my little laptop.  I am not tech savvy–at all.  The fact that I have been able to set up an entire blog on my own is almost miraculous, but I digress.

Three hours of Bruce later, it is past midnight, and I tip-toe upstairs to crawl into bed.  The next morning on my run, I think about why I was riveted.  According to Bruce, in his effort to deny and suppress the part of himself that he calls “Her”, he immerses himself in running to the extreme point.  He runs away from “Her” and becomes an Olympic champion to declare his manhood.

I’ve had such a positive experience with running, as I have been running towards myself, that it hasn’t really occurred to me that some people out there are running away from their true self.  Am I going to start to look at every runner who passes me differently?

He is running away from “Her”, trying to prove to the world that he is a man.  I am running towards figuring out who I am and what I want to do; I am trying to prove to no one but myself that I can.  He was competing against others, I’m not competing with anyone.  Who else out there may be running away from who they are….trying to prove that they are something that they are not; competing and climbing to validate themselves, attempting to bury their insecurities or true self.

It takes until his 60’s before he decides that he “can’t die and not experience ‘Her’.”  He was too worried about what people would think, disgracing his family, hurting his children, to let himself allow “Her” into his life publicly earlier.  Gender identity is very complicated, and I do not in any way mean to equate the magnitude of that struggle with the ones most of us have.  I can not even imagine what it would be like to go through life being in the wrong body, but how many of us have parts of us that we are suppressing due to fear, expectations, or thinking it’s too late.  How many of us have a “Her” that we are not exploring….that “Her” can be anything we want to do but are afraid to do, and not have anything to do with gender identity.  Are we willing to wait until our 60’s to run towards it rather than away from it?  Is it ever too late to run towards your “Her.”

For most of us, once we run towards that “Her” that we are so afraid of exploring or pursuing, the world doesn’t fall apart.  Rather, we find out who our real friends and supporters are.  Our loved ones keep loving and encouraging us; outsiders admire us for being brave to take on a new challenge; and the work that we need to put into this new side of us, while it may be time-consuming, all-encompassing, and take over our life, doesn’t feel like work when we are running towards ourself.

Do you have a “Her” that you have suppressed, put on the back burner, or denied?  It’s not too late….let’s not run away from it….let’s not look back at time that we’ve lost…..let’s not fear it….let’s make time for it…… let’s run towards it.

**This post was completed just a couple of hours before the release of the Vanity Fair cover of Caitlyn Jenner.  I’m so happy for her. It was originally published on 6/1/15.

Paria Hassouri