King of the World

The 20s are all about blessings. The universe conspires when you least expect it to bring you to where you need to be. Sharp contrasts, distinct shifts, and mountain-moving differences occurring in the simple span of 24 hours among other things point to life's profound favors. Dastardly dark lows to unbelievable highs happen because you need them to. Life lessons are most often tough but that's because they are preparing you for even greater futures. Shout it from the rooftops, I'm king of the world.
 
"Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny" C.S. Lewis

Exactly four years ago I remember spending a substantial amount of time in my room putting on a tuxedo in preparation for my senior prom. I was nervous beyond compare. All my friends were going to roll together and as always, I was late (it's a recurring theme in my life). I brought my friend Rachel her corsage and we all posed for pictures. I was still sporting the geekiest braces, and wasn't super feeling it. We made it to prom, and entered the banquet hall in the most nonchalant fashion. Soon it was time for prom court to walk in. I had made it and was just happy to be on it. A few minutes later they were to announce prom king and queen, and low and behold they announced me name. I was in absolute shock. I couldn't believe, me of all people had won prom king. I didn't even believe it until my mom and sister came out of nowhere to congratulate me. It was unfathomable but I was blessed, proud, and felt so humbled knowing that so many of my classmates had voted for me. I still have the crown and sash in my bedroom at home. It was a night I would never forget. (Want to read another version of how it went down - check out my post from the day after #TBT A Trip to the Moon). That night I was king of the world.
 
Life (and by that I really mean big G) works in mysterious ways. Thursday was one of those off days where I wasn't my full self. I was down, still shaken up from what had happened with that bias incident Wednesday, and was not having any of it. Some of my classmates and even one of my professors had noticed my drastic personality shift. For that I was grateful, particularly the ones who had taken time like my friends Abby and Courtney to ask me how I was doing sincerely. I made my way home in the afternoon to get ready for the evening's festivities. I should have known then that that day was going to be something special. People were coming out of the woodwork, total strangers and people I vaguely knew to give me powerful words of encouragement and express their outrage at what I had experienced. Their boldness and candor was overwhelming. I could not process that so many people, especially those I didn't really know cared about me.

Joining a rally against sexual violence, and sexual assault made up my early evening. I spoke in front of the crowd serving as a call to men to start doing this important that work that people (namely women) have been doing for years. We marched downtown chanting turning heads as we went from those driving, people in their homes, and pedestrians alike. It was absolutely exhilarating and emotionally moving. We made it to City Hall after our rendition of our "Take By the Night" march and I broke off to stop by Starbucks and catch the bus back to campus. It was there that a few more people that I had known in passing stopped to address me and what had occurred the day before. I was floored and flooded with emotion. How could it be possible that wherever I was people were showering with me deeply personal, vulnerable words of appreciation, affirmation, and support. Shea, Jess, Declan, and a couple others who I didn't know at all spoke powerful truths to me that resonated with me on a substantive level. I was slowly beginning to feel like king of the world.

From there it was up to campus to change and prepare for the Greek Awards Ball. Night fell and I was surrounded by my fraternity brothers along with the rest of the awesome members of our fraternity/sorority life community. Award after award was announced and cascading yelps and claps filled the ballroom space. Bright smiles, streaming tears, and emphatic cheering greeted those who were honored. I received the change agent award for my social justice efforts and what an honor it was. The end of the ceremony neared and the senior awards came up. Our FSL community advisor, Kim, choked up reading the descriptions of the two students to be recognized and all of a sudden my name was being called along with my phenomenal friend Maddie as Greek Man and Woman of the Year, respectively. We were joined by the other senior class Pillars of the community including Abby who had comforted me only a few hours earlier. I was dumbfounded. I had no words. I was overcome with crashing waves of emotion. I was surprised, awestruck, and in denial. Me, really me, was being recognized as Greek Man of the Year. I picked me head up to look up into the crowd and the majority of the crowd was giving us all a standing ovation. It was something out of a movie. The least likely unassuming people who end up winning the hearts and support of the masses. It was like prom night that had occurred 4 years before down to the hour. In those moments standing on that stage I was king of the world.

The ceremony ended and people from various chapters came over to hug me, congratulate me, and tell me how I deserved the award. Love, pure unrestricted love and adoration, is what I was doused with. I was drenched with warmth, profound compassion, and humbling veritas. No matter how much I was struggling to understand what had just happened or with the lingering thoughts that I did not deserve my accolades, all those around me vehemently emphasized how much of how it could not have been anyone else. Those whose words stuck out to me most were Emily and Ari (their roommate was Vivian who I mentioned had gone out of her way to affirm me in the library) who pointed out that was who I was and this was a manifestation of the impact I had had on others. This was not only the culmination of four years of community building but also retribution from the previous day's injustice. I was so grateful for their unreal thoughtfulness along with that of the entire community. Hugs, kisses, handshakes, and big smiles all around enveloped me. I couldn't stop crying or shaking (again), but smiling too this time. I received texts, tweets, direct messages and snaps from people all over campus and beyond expressing their joy for me. It was too much. It was just enough. It was beyond words. I was the king of the world.

King of the world to me is a place where I feel comfortable, able to let my guard down, and surrounded by people who demonstrate care for me and allow me to do the same. It's a reciprocal state of being. It's a unique euphoria of laughter, kindness, and profound connection. I am so grateful to get to be in such places and wish nothing more than for everyone to be able to feel the same. It's indescribable and more than what I needed to make me whole again. The kingship only happens because others empower you with their love. I hope to do that for others and give others this feeling like so many have given me. Thank you for letting me be king of the world.

My blog post question for the day is ... when do you feel like king of the world (excuse me for the gendered language)? It's profound moments of love.

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