On a sunny afternoon in August 2008, I walked into Dean Hall at approximately 2:54 p.m. and experienced one of the most significant moments of my life.
Did I know it at the time, you ask? Nope. Not a clue.
During that moment, I laid eyes on Erin Brown for the first time.
Almost eleven years ago now, my world changed – just like that, in a literal second.
You’d think that life’s big moments would come with an announcement and fireworks (for the good stuff) or warning labels and disclaimers (for the bad stuff). What I actually knew in that moment, though, was that I was in an uber-messy high school relationship that needed to end about…oh…three days before it started a few months prior. I was stressed out and scared from being in my first day of college, and I missed my family and friends, who were no longer right there with me. I was unsure of my major, unsure of the campus I now lived on, and unsure of pretty much all of my life choices up to that point. Ha! As far as life-altering moments are concerned, I did not recognize I’d just experienced one.
But I did. And that’s mainly because of the choices that came later.
Even though my existence shifted at that exact point in time…around 2:54 p.m. in Dean Hall on a hot August afternoon in 2008…that moment isn’t the one that made Erin Brown and Kyndall Knight us. Our choices after that moment are what made us us.
The choice I made to add him on Facebook so I would have a contact in that Business Calculus class, for example.
The choice I made to ditch the high-school relationship a few days later.
The choice he made in the following weeks to ask me on our first date.
And the list goes on. Choice after choice after choice that led us to eleven years together (almost!) and soon-to-be eight years of marriage (and counting!). A life-changing moment and the choices that surround it.
Sometimes we don’t know the moments that will shake the foundation of our world, but sometimes we do.
Case in point: the moment I sat in my doctor’s office a week after my colonoscopy in April 2018 and heard my officially confirmed PI-IBS diagnosis.
In that moment, I knew my life was changing. I didn’t know to what extent or for how long or how it would all pan out, but I knew that this moment had become one of the moments of my life. For awhile, I struggled with that moment defining me. I mean, it changed so much of how I live each day. How could it not feel that way?
What I’ve come to realize, however (with time and therapy and doctor’s appointments and effort), is that the choices I made after that moment are what define me.
For example: I could’ve sat down, cried, and decided to not get back up…but I chose to wipe my tears and get up anyway. I could’ve turned my back on my situation and let myself wither away…but I chose to confront it and do what I could to make myself functional again. I could’ve said “I’m scared, so I’m not doing this”…but I took that thought and said, “I’m going to prove that I can.”
I took one of life’s hard moments – I let it marinate – and then I made the choice to figure out, best I could, how to make it work.
Today I’ll leave you with two hard truths:
#1 is that moments aren’t always easy, my friends. The hard ones can shake us deep down to our core, make us angry, make us sad, make us feel like calling it quits.
#2 is that we have choices to make, anyway, and our choices define us.
Speaking from experience, I can tell you this: the first choice you can make is to face your hard moment for what it is. After that, it’s one foot in front of the other, my friend…and you absolutely, 150% can do it.
But it’s your choice to make.