‘Runner, student, athlete…’ none of these labels compare to my favourite – being an ‘Aunty’.
I have a 6-year-old niece [Aria] and I am 21-years-old, which would typically be on the younger side for the average aunty. But there are many reasons why I believe that I have the best of circumstances.
First, my niece keeps me creative. I get to experience the responsibilities of growing up and being a young adult, without having to let go of the fun of being a care-free kid. There’s no place I notice this more than in terms of running. When I find myself becoming very routine-oriented and precise with my training regime, Aria reminds me that it’s really just about putting one foot in front of the other, having fun, and not over-thinking.
Second and somewhat related to the first, she helps me gain perspective when I need it most. Life can get pretty structured and mundane at times, as a student-athlete. I often get the question “what do you want to do when you graduate” and to be honest, my response seems to change every year. I think that we are constantly evolving and becoming better versions of ourselves while the world around us is frequently changing, so there isn’t really a clear answer to that question. My niece helps me take a step back and realize that we are always growing and we don’t have to come across like we have everything figured out all of the time.
Third, she demonstrates how important it is to believe in yourself. As a kid, when you’re given something to do you don’t set limits for yourself, you just try your best. This is important in both the classroom, as well as, on the track. Rather than calculating the grades I need to get a desired mark in a class or the times I need to be running in practice to achieve a new personal best in a race; there’s a lot to be said about just going out and giving it your best. I’ve experienced my greatest race times and test results come at times when I least expected it, because I was just focused on putting forth my best effort.
Lastly, and most important I get to play a special role in teaching my best friend life lessons and watching her grow up. It’s something that I wouldn’t trade for the world.