Another lockdown has greeted us in the early days of the new year. Yes, we all expected better. We all hoped for a new year to be a new start, a new way of thinking, of succeeding, of being a healthier country, particularly with the new vaccine coming our way. But here we are, stamped and trapped in yet another lockdown.
But what is the point being sad? Feeling downtrodden over all the things you wished you could be doing. We must remember that we are all on the same boat, sailing towards the same destination. So, why don’t we make use of this time? Get creative? Write, draw, run, dance, create?
Well, running is the one for me. I picked it up recently in hopes of that superior runner’s high that the fitness world seems to sell as the most amazing feeling ever. I have experienced it a couple of times and, yes, it is bliss. But the run is rather torturous in the daytime. This is why I choose to run at night, admittedly, I have been judged for choosing this time. As a girl, my parents are always slightly concerned when I hit the track in the evening. I crave that night air. That fresh, cool winter’s gust. I don’t intend to leave late but being confined in the winters unkind cycle, the darkness usually descends around four o’clock. The perfect time for an icy jog. That gentle splash of rain from the clouds to liven your footing as you careen through those painful concrete paths. It is one of the things I enjoy about the winter.
But it’s the journey home that actually matters. The journey home that justifies it all.
Girls are the most common subjects for harassment with 81% claiming they have been assaulted or cat called while a smaller 43% of men have according to a survey by Stop Street Harassment in 2018. So, there is no doubt that both women and men do experience some forms of street harassment.
What would it be like without that? Bliss?
What would one do with oneself if they were completely free, not turning around every second to see if someone is following, not stopping in a crowded street to feel safer, not checking your phone or calling a friend to tell them that you’re safe. Or the complete bliss of wearing two earphones and not having to pluck one out to hear if there are any noises behind you.
Things need to change, change well and change now. No woman, or man for that matter, should ever be subjugated to any kind of harassment. Every single person should be able to walk home, dressed how they desire, listening to music as loud as they want and taking the most back street and scenic routes to their home, safe in the knowledge that they would never even have an eye on them.
The thought that walking back to your own home from your local park can be considered dangerous because its night-time is horrendous. The night should be just as safe as the daytime, just as welcoming as any bright summer’s day.
Maybe saying that all we can do is rely on the kindness of strangers is a rather sour thought to end on. Maybe telling you to get some lessons in Krav Maga or Taekwondo is not the smartest advice. All I can say is, if you feel safe enough to travel at night, by all means go, go feel that icy break on your cheeks, the thrill of the cool air and the rush of the runner’s high. I sure have seen enough women in the park to feel safe enough to simply jog around it.
Treat this lockdown as a new start, a new way of believing in yourself, believing in your achievements and your strength to endure, even if a night run is a bad start for you, drawing on your courage in other ways is always a positive place to begin.
So, I’ll leave you with this: Take life in small steps now, don’t hurt yourself with too much pressure. Keep yourself calm and healthy and safe. Worry about small things, nothing that is out of your control, and challenge yourself with anything that will improve you. I hope I can be one to say, I have been improved after this lockdown, and I hope you can too.
By Maria Benseler-Reid
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