Losing the team but finding yourself
I ran cross country and track for thirteen years. It seemed to me that the most consistent things in my life were centered around running. Practice every day, meets on weekends, and teammates who had become my closest friends. Least welcome of these consistencies, however, were my injuries. By senior year of high school, the doctors advised that I never compete again.
When I got to Hillsdale, I missed having the consistency and support of a team. There was no getting out of work and hurrying to the locker room, and there was certainly no one to pace me through practice or scream me through the finish line. When I left classes, I was just another freshman. For a time, I negatively dwelt on who I was outside the context of my family, my friends, and my team. Without those who already knew my strengths and talents, I felt aggressively mediocre. Little did I know, this clean slate was exactly what I needed.
Going about my daily life as a freshman, I began to find different groups to get involved in. I learned how to connect with others who had very little in common with me through different volunteering commitments. I played some IM sports and eventually joined a sorority. The people in these groups challenged me to branch out even more, and by the end of freshman year I’d somehow been talked into joining the cheer team and performing with an improv troupe. Within a matter of months, I had gone from mourning who I was in high school to energetically discovering who I could be at Hillsdale.
The time I used to spend complaining about long practices I now used to volunteer in the emergency room. I slowed down and learned from others how to dance for cheer instead of proudly running ahead of the pack or constantly striving to break my own PR. I performed and acted in sync with my improv troupe. The very identity I pridefully held dear in high school fell by the wayside and allowed for a humbling growth experience at Hillsdale.
I might have originally seen things as a loss in teammates and self. What I found was an invitation to lifelong friendships and personal freedom.
Cecilia Bellet, class of 2018, hails from Nashville and studies economics and French.
Published in February 2019