RUN!By Kevin Paul | 04/24/2016 11:49pm
“Every morning on the savanna, every lion wakes up and knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle, or it will starve, and die. That same morning, every gazelle wakes up and knows that it must outrun the fastest lion, or it will get eaten, and die.”
I first heard this quote at a basketball camp nine years ago, but I’m sure it was uttered for decades before. It was always cool to say and post as a Facebook status, but I never really sat and thought about it until scrambling for a senior column topic. But as I prepare to walk across the stage in Coleman Coliseum, the last part of the quote sticks out to me more than any four words ever have before: “You better be running.”
Run. Run as if your life depends on it. Run until you get tired, and then after you rest for a little while, get back up and run harder. Run into new adventures, new experiences and new relationships. There is so much each and every one of us can grab from The University of Alabama. But we cannot reach those goals or gain those experiences unless we run.
I came to the University as a shy, awkward, out-of-state student who knew upwards of 15 people on campus. I was afraid I’d be homesick and (unbeknownst to my parents until the minute they read this article) actually thought I might transfer. But I started running.
The beginning of this “run” started with me pursuing a senate seat within the SGA. At the time, I didn’t know how absurd that sounded. All I had really done on campus was join a business fraternity, which had under 70 members. Every single person I knew on campus consisted of about half of them and maybe 20 other people around Tuscaloosa. There were even close friends who came to me to tell me they didn’t think I had a chance. In the face of all this I decided that I would run the best campaign I could, and I did. Then I lost. Those five votes I lost by haunted me for weeks. I failed on a large scale for the first time in my life. It wouldn’t be the last.
However, in the midst of this failure, a light bulb went off in my head. I learned so much about this campus, made so many connections, and even sort of found myself in this “failure.” And in that sense, I didn’t fail at all. I found out family in Alpha Kappa Psi was much more supportive and loving than I could have ever imagined. I made a new home in the Student Government Association office and forged a different road as to how I could help students on this campus. I laughed, I cried, then I cried some more, but I kept running because I didn’t have a choice.
This whole column isn’t to say “do exactly what I did and you’ll end up exactly like me,” because that would irresponsible. But what I will tell everyone here is that your experience is YOURS. When you leave here, things change; you suddenly aren’t the master of your domain anymore. So while you have these precious few years, continue to run. Create your own path here while you still can. Leave a legacy on this campus you can be proud of. And when you wake up tomorrow morning, you better be running.
Kevin Paul has served as Chief Administrative Officer in the Student Government Association under the Bloom and Spillers Administrations. He has also served as Vice President of External Affairs and Alumni Affairs in Alpha Kappa Psi. He plans on moving to New York City after graduation and pursuing a career in sports business.