Hinge moments. I’ve always called them epiphanies, but “hinge moments” sounds like the next best marketing campaign. So I’ll go with that.
In Jon Acuff’s book Quitter, he talks about hinge moments. Those moments that while you’re in them seem as inconsequential as the color of my nail polish but when you stop to reflect, you realize that one measly moment changed your paradigm and your path from there on out. You know those moments—when the universe is pushing you in what seems like a natural, formidable direction, but every molecule of your being is resisting, and you’re not sure why. The resistance typically starts as a dull but nagging feeling deep inside your mind, but once the spark is ignited by this seemingly innocuous person, event or experience, you’re given all the evidence (or faith) you need to change direction. These moments can cause angst. They can cause agita (one of the only medical terms I know how to use in context.) But for me, hinge moments have come in two forms: a famous sportscaster and a drab apartment.
Here’s to you, Mr. Costas
It was my sophomore year of college. As the campus radio station’s News Director, I was flown to New York City to interview Bob Costas and a couple other broadcasting dignitaries at a prestigious media luncheon. When I finally got my marantz to cooperate and my heart beat to slow down, I made my way through the crowd to interview Mr. Costas (and yes, I was that formal with him. Come on, besides the multi-colored rings, this guy is the next best symbolism for the Olympics).
After I was done asking the formal and mundane questions and we posed for a photo together, he turned to me and said, “Have you ever thought about going to Syracuse University’s Newhouse School?” Ughhh noooo… the dreaded question. I had been dealing with this inquisition since I began looking at colleges my junior year of high school. I had been adamantly against going to SU since I could spell the world “college.” Sure I loved the Carrier Dome and Otto the Orange (lamest mascot ever,) but being from Syracuse, I was just… over it. I of course didn’t explain this deep disdain to him, but simply smiled and told him being from Syracuse was enough to keep me away. Being a Newhouse alum himself, he shrugged, urged me to apply and was on his way.
Before this encounter, it had NEVER crossed my mind to apply at SU. I didn’t want to move near home. I didn’t want to go to a school where I’d be just a number in an auditorium of about 3,000 students, trying to figure out what the difference between two beetle exoskeletons was (and yes, once I got there, I had to do that. And I was a broadcasting major. Go figure.)
It seemed easier to stay put. I had great friends, a great social life and loved my classes. But something made me submit the application paperwork. Something pushed me to see it through. Many months and an academic scholarship later, there I was… at SU… loving life and thanking Bob Costas for his priceless nudge.
The irony of it all: I didn’t end up being a broadcaster. I didn’t even end up in the industry. But being at SU got me on the right track to understand what I loved (writing) and what I hated (always having to look good while carrying around a 50-pound camera and tripod in snowbanks up to my eyeballs).I thought about switching my major to Public Relations and Marketing, but that meant I’d have to invest more time and money into an undergrad education. No thank you. So I stuck it out, hoping (and knowing deep down) that the practical knowledge I had gained at my 2 1/2-year internship would propel me through my career.
So why do I have Bob Costas to thank? Welp, he led me to Syracuse University, which led me to my internship. My internship turned into my first full-time job once I graduated. It was that job that introduced me to my husband. I thankfully got to reintroduce myself to Mr. Costas several years later with my husband at my side, and I explained to him how he had truly changed my life, all with a simple question.
Little did he know that simple question made me question my entire life. My entire path. The path that led me to where I am and who I am on this very day. And little does he know today, I’m labeling him as “Hinge #1.”
It Takes a Village
I was pretty much packed and ready to go. The big move was only 10 days away. I had rehabbed some end tables, saved money for furniture and already paid first and last month’s rent for our new apartment (notice I said “our”) in the village. But one night, something woke me up as abruptly as my 12-year-old sister yanking at my eye lids. Something made me sit straight up in bed and whisper to myself, “I can’t do this.”
It was the “our.” I was moving into an apartment with my boyfriend. The boyfriend who I had been with for 4 1/2 years but still didn’t trust. The boyfriend who I clung to all through college and justified our unhealthy relationship as a “growing experience.” WHAT?!
Since I already revealed the ending in my Bob Costas story, you all know I moved on and found the love of my life. But instead of moving to the village, instead of going through the motions of this relationship, I decided to end it. I decided to chalk up our 4 1/2 years together as a learning experience, being young and being dumb. No, it wasn’t easy. No, I didn’t feel good about it at the time. But I learned sometimes the hard things and the right things are the same. And I was destined for something else, and more importantly, someone else. Hinge moment #2.
Find Your Hinge
If you’re older than 5 years old, you’ve had a hinge moment. You’ve probably had many. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint them, but they’re there. They exist to be discovered, explored and appreciated.