I’ll never forget it.
The thrill of flying to Houston on a whim for the Final Four. Being in that stadium when we beat Syracuse to advance to the championship. Hopping back on a plane to be back in Chapel Hill for the championship game.
Marcus Paige shooting the most beautiful three I’d ever seen – screaming in awe with hundreds of friends watching the 2016 National Championship projected on the side of a house on Vance Street.
And then that other shot…
Walking home in silence, tears trickling down my face, my #23 jersey crumpled on the floor.
And then senior year happened so fast. Moving into a new house on McCauley Street, consumed with the job search, leading WyldLife…trying to soak up every last moment at Carolina. And before I knew it we were back – back in the Dean Dome – scrambling to get tickets in the lottery – rushing Franklin after beating Duke.
When people ask me if I’m a mountains or beach person the answer is always hard. Not because I’m an indecisive person, but rather because the answer is one that I find challenging to put in words – I love any place that makes me feel tiny. And being in mountains or at the beach often makes me feel tiny.
*Please note there is an incredible difference between feeling tiny and feeling insignificant.
I love these moments where I feel small – whether it’s when I’m floating in the ocean, hiking a mountain range or paragliding across the Alps in Switzerland.
In these instances, I’m reminded that the world simply doesn’t revolve around me and the burdens I feel weighed down by, but rather I’m affirmed in my uniqueness . That even though I am one in billions, that I am loved. That I am known.
This thought may seem contradictory, but like I said it’s hard to capture the right words.
Attending UNC has made me feel both tiny and insignificant. In moments of frustration, I’ve been overwhelmed with the idea that I’m competing against thousands of other students – that I will never be good enough, smart enough, fun enough. In that space I have felt insignificant.
But then there are moments like last night. Where I feel tiny – one of fifty-five thousand people screaming, laughing and crying on Franklin Street.
Where strangers embrace and yell and jump over bonfires because our boys somehow beat out 351 other teams in the country. Here – being pushed around in a sweaty mosh pit of insane fans, I’m reminded of what happens when thousands of people put aside their differences and pour their hearts into something.
It’s about being part of something bigger than you – recognizing that the world doesn’t revolve around you (but maybe it does revolve around UNC basketball….)
So thank you, Carolina basketball, for a night I’ll tell my kids about one day. For reminding me that I’m small. For such an amazing, heart-wrenching four years.
Redemption, it sure is sweet.