Assistant Video producer Samuel In has found comfort in getting away from UCLA at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. His newfound passion for running has afforded him peace and clarity amidst ongoing turmoil in the world. (Courtesy of Samuel In)
The coronavirus pandemic has drastically upended life in the most unforeseeable of ways. At UCLA, our community is remarkably united by similar feelings of loss, confusion and concern, but also by light, hope and perspective that the pandemic has brought to the forefront. In “Columns From Quarantine,” Daily Bruin staffers and community submissions highlight the personal stories that mark this unprecedented moment. If you have a quarantine story to tell, you can submit it here or email [email protected]
Left, right, left, right.
That’s all I can think about toward the end of my runs.
The only runs I’ve ever been on in life were the miles I had to run in middle school for physical education class.
Don’t get me wrong, I love exercising and you can usually find me playing basketball at the John Wooden Center until the courts close – I just hate running for the sake of running.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined, I left UCLA during finals week to go back home. I wanted to stay in shape but realized I was largely inconvenienced by the fact that the courts near my house began to close and I could no longer play basketball. So, I decided to dust off an old pastime – I reinstalled League of Legends.
And it sucked, or rather, I sucked. After losing what seemed to be my 10th straight game, I knew I had to get out and do something, so I sat down at my laptop and decided to make a running playlist.
I titled it, “I AM NO LONGER EMO.”
This first run was one of those “emo” runs, and no, it wasn’t because I was losing in League of Legends.
The past year of my life was arguably one of the toughest. My grandfather had passed away. My family was fighting a lot from the grief that comes with losing a loved one and the added stress from having to deal with economic instability.
Simply put, things were just really hard.
And school just seemed to make it worse.
Everyone else seemed to be getting the internships of their dreams, making new friends and moving on with the rest of their lives, but I just felt stuck. I tried to talk about my problems to my friends, but as the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, my problems didn’t change. Still, none of that was the worst part.
What killed me was how everyone around me thought I should be better by now.
I felt alone.
And as a Christian, my faith was shaken. I started doubting everything I believed in and started wondering if there even was a God, or anyone at all for that matter, that loved and cared for me.
So with that heart, I made the aforementioned running playlist. Maybe it was me trying to convince myself I wasn’t the only sad person out there, or maybe I just wanted to sit with my feelings, but either way, the playlist was a bunch of sad songs. From old classics like Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” to current hits like Powfu’s “death bed,” every song was dark.
After I finished the playlist, I put on my running shoes, grabbed a water bottle and started running.
As I ran, the same doubts and anxieties filled my head. “Will I ever amount to anything? Will my family ever get better? Will I ever get better?”
And then I got to the end of my run; all that was left between me and home was a huge hill. I started running, but that turned into a jog, and that turned into a walk, and that walk turned into a stop.
I bent over with my hands on my knees and tried to catch my breath. And that’s when I realized: This isn’t it.
You see, while I had been questioning everything for the past year, I had also prayed occasionally for God to just give me a breath of fresh air; I didn’t need my problems gone forever, I just wanted a chance to catch my breath from dealing with all the turmoil around me.
And maybe this pandemic afforded me the chance to get away from the whirlwind of college. Or maybe it was just because I was distracted by physical exhaustion. I don’t really know what it was, but in that moment of me gasping for air, I finally got a breath.
I finally had a peace I hadn’t felt in a long time.
When I got home, I pulled out my laptop, after washing my hands and thoroughly sanitizing them, of course, and made a new playlist titled, “Being emo is boring.” The playlist was filled with songs that reminded me of who I am, like the old Christian hymns “Amazing Grace” or “How Great is Our God.” When I finished the playlist, I put in the description a single question: “Will this last more than two days?”
A month later, the playlist is alive and well and I’m still running, albeit not much faster.
COVID-19 has caused a lot of harm to this world, and I’m sure many have been affected a lot worse than me. But one thing I’m grateful for is the second wind God has given me through it.
At the end of my runs, the hill’s still there, just like how my problems are still here. And many days, I still want to give up. But the only way home is up the hill, and the only thing I can focus on is on taking the next step.
Left. Right. Left. Right.
Samuel In is a third-year communication and business economics student from San Diego and is an assistant Video producer for the Daily Bruin.