In December, I dedicated myself to the mentality that 2017 was my year.
We had recently moved into a new house the previous month. After two years of renovations, our starter home had yielded enough profit to upgrade to a larger space, one that would accommodate our growing family.
Work, for the first time in my life, held new meaning. It was no longer a "paycheck" but stepping stones towards a career. I was building skills, growing as an individual, and contributing to something bigger than myself.
With motivation from some friends and co-workers, I began setting fitness goals. I started eating differently, lifting weights and running, something I'd not (willingly) done in years.
And perhaps the most personal, meaningful achievement: I FINALLY finished my Bachelor's degree.
Killer year so far, right? You'd think I'd be ecstatic to have ticked so many boxes on my "successful adulting" checklist.
But truth be told, I wasn't.
As I sat there, clad in an unflattering square cap and baggy, overpriced poncho, I wasn't excited at all. Fear welled up in me like a balloon leaving a hollow ache.
College had been a goal of mine for so long that the pursuit of that ridiculously expensive piece of paper had become a part of who I was.
Gone was the elaborate spiel of excuses that I'd rehearsed for awkward family barbecues where every greeting was followed with a conversation about "why I still hadn't graduated." The education segment of my resume had, at long last, changed from "expected graduation date" to "graduated May 2017." No more homework, projects, or exams.
Still, I sat there, drowning. Dreading.
The commencement usher motioned for my row to stand up, and the nauseous pit in my stomach moved with me; it reminded me of the home stretch of a hard run, when all of your focus, your cognition, your being funnels into propelling your body forward.
I managed to loosen my sweaty grip on the name card and hand it off to the announcer.
Left. Right. Breathe.
Crossing the stage, one incessant thought poisoned my conscious, "What now?"
Left. Right. Breathe. *Thunk*
In that moment, as my name echoed into the rafters of Thompson-Boling Arena, something heavy swung in my pocket, struck my leg, and instantly, I recalled what it was: a television remote.
It was my parents' television remote, to be exact, and here, in this moment I had been dreaming of and working towards for nearly 20 years...
...it was the only thing that mattered.
You see, my son is like a magnet to electronics, so to avoid having to deal with constant channel surfing and the volume fluctuating, I have to hide TV remotes from him wherever we go. My parents' remote is no different, and you can probably fill in the blanks as to how I ended up with it.
As ridiculous and...odd as it may seem, the presence of that remote grounded me.
The "purpose" that I had such a deep-seated fear of losing was sitting a couple hundred feet away eating Goldfish crackers and watching "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" in his mama's lap.
I smiled at the thought of those sticky, grubby hands wrapped tightly around my parents' remote. It was never about a piece of paper; it was always about that beautiful little boy and my Molly.
Every success I'd celebrated, every accomplishment, past or future...it was always, always for and about them.
Yep. 2017 is my year.