I Believe in the Kindness of a Stranger

Jenna - Sandy, Utah
Entered on October 21, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I am not exactly the sporty type. I have always tried to be. As a child, my mom put me in every recreational sport throughout the years including baseball, swimming, soccer, volleyball; the list goes on. As far back as I can remember the winter weekends were always skiing in the mountains and the summer days were always skiing at the lake but even with all my parents’ effort I preferred doodling in coloring books in the lodge and playing with barbies in the ski boat. I even quit a five year competitive volleyball career for high school plays, choir, and art. With this sort of a sports history, I think my family was a little bit thrown off guard when I decided I wanted to do triathlons like my older sister. In college I joined the triathlon club because I heard the club was putting on a race for beginners. I trained hard until the day of the race came. I made it through the swim alive then transitioned to the biking portion. Ten minutes later I found myself with burning legs biking slowly up a very long hill. More experienced bikers began flying past me-this wasn’t the biggest confidence booster. But then a biker casually said to me in passing ‘keep it up!’ and continued on. Suddenly I had more energy and motivation thanks to this stranger’s simple encouragement. Near the end of the run I wanted so badly to quite! My whole body was screaming at me to stop but I knew I couldn’t slow down and I had to finish the race. Another tri-athlete passed me and told me to keep going. I couldn’t believe how happy this made me feel and how easy it made it for me to go on! Could I have finished that race if no one had cared enough to tell me to ‘keep it up’ or cheer for me as I ran past? Of course. But would I have stopped and walked my bike or walked part of the run if no one had encouraged me to just push a little further? Most definately. A stranger caring for another stranger is a beautiful thing to me. Friends and family are required to care for you. This can make the things they do for you seem occasionally insincere or forced. But a stranger isn’t going to help someone with their groceries or strike up a conversation because they feel obligated. It’s pure kindness. The people who encouraged me to keep going during my triathlon probably wouldn’t recognize me in a crowd and I wouldn’t recognize them but their kindness helped me enjoy the race especially when it was hard.