Life can be a lot of things for a lot of people. It can be happy or sad, subtle or bold, adventurous or low key. But for each person, it is defined by something different. My life is defined by miles. By the sheer number of available cliches dealing with miles, I feel like many people can relate. There is the classic where you “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” or the one where “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” They’re oldies but goodies. They still hold value (even after all of the overuse) because people know that miles comprise the adventure of a lifetime, no matter where they take you or how many there are. Yours make you you, and mine make me me.

My miles begin with miles swam and miles rowed. These two parts of my life have done more than influence me, they have truly defined me. Getting up for 5:15AM morning swim practices and staying at the boathouse for 3 hours a night, all while racking up the miles conquered during those periods each day. 10 years spent in the pool and 4 on the river have changed me for the better, and helped me learn more about myself and the people I am blessed to call teammates. Swimming and rowing have taught me how to compete, how to dig deep, how to be a leader, and how to be a friend. Each of these are things I value and large parts of who I am.

Now, add those miles to the miles on my odometer. Traveling has made my life so much better; and whether the trip is a trip to get lunch with my friends or a trip to Costa Rica with my youth group, each trip has added a little bit of something new to who I am. However, these excursions compared to the miles on my beloved yellow FJ Cruiser, Kenny. My car was bought used, and it currently has 148,765 miles on it. I’d like to think that all of those miles are mine, and that all were filled with adventure and excitement. Unfortunately, most of them belonged to the previous owner, and most of those which do belong to me are just the daily routine. But the mundane and the extraordinary bits of my life are part of me, and adding all of these together help make up the memories and actions which define me.

And now, finally, throw in the miles to the University of Alabama. 821 to be exact. Already more than a quarter done with senior year, one chapter is ending while I prepare to begin another one 14 hours from home. While I’m slightly terrified, I can’t wait to see how that part of my life will change me and define me even more.

All of these miles add up to more than a simple number. They add up to me. A me who is proud of where these miles have taken me, and who is ready to see where they will take me next as they continue to add up.