The dictionary defines “special” as “better, greater, or otherwise different than usual.”
I say this all the time. But I truly believe life is made up of beautiful, unique, special moments.
The coronavirus has taken a lot of special moments away from people. Graduations, weddings, birthdays, celebrations of all kinds. And it has been hard, to say the least. Nobody can deny that some days have just straight up sucked.
However, the past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on all the special moments we’ve gained.
Last week, I watched my sister receive her graduation cap and gown. The school worked to make it as special as possible. Teachers and counselors boarded school buses that then drove their normal routes to drop off these graduation boxes for all 1,300 seniors at her high school. And my mother, being the awesome person she is, decided we were going to make this moment a memory.
She reached out to the other senior parents at Alyssa’s bus stop to plan a bit of a surprise. They got personalized cookies and balloons and signs and my mom invited a bunch of special people in my sister’s life to come cheer her on. And you know what it was? It was special. It was exciting. It made her smile.
Just by making an effort and taking a few extra steps, we took a simple box drop off and turned it into a full-on celebration. While I acknowledge that this afternoon doesn’t make up for a missed prom, last day of school, or actual graduation ceremony, it was a new memory. Not the one we expected, but the one we got. And a happy, special one it was.
And this doesn’t start and end with quarantine. We have little opportunities every day of our lives to make small moments into special memories.
I’ve always been a shameless fan of “pointless” holidays. Valentines Day, St. Patrick's Day, National Nutella Day, etc. You know why? Because they give you an excuse to celebrate and feel like you’re a part of something. True story: once in college, a group of my friends and I decided we were going to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving by going to a hibachi restaurant. We planned it for like two weeks and it ended up being a really awesome night. Whether it's a random holiday or a random Saturday night, it’s an excuse to get together. To enjoy the company of our family and friends. To create something special.
Have you ever noticed that some of the best days of our lives are random ones? Just the other day, I was sharing a high school memory of mine with a friend. Honestly, one of my favorite days of my senior year was a normal Friday. My friends and I were hanging out by our lockers once school got out. None of us had plans so we asked that classic question: “what are we doing tonight?” Long story short, we ended up going to someone’s house, climbed trees and took pictures in the backyard, grabbed some dinner, and then went to a show.
Unlike a wedding day or graduation, I didn’t wake up expecting that day to be anything special. Yet, somehow, it's one of my fondest memories of high school.
Personally, I don’t remember much from my high school graduation. I remember taking pictures, sitting in between two people I had never met before, and live tweeting the event from my phone I snuck in under my robe.
I don’t remember much from this day that is supposed to be one of the biggest moments in your life.. Instead, some of my most special days and best memories come from your average Tuesday. A stupid inside joke made while studying, a random trip to McDonalds after rehearsal, or a trip to a park with an old friend. My special days didn’t always start out special, but people made them such.
I truly believe that any day can end up being the most special day of your life. It’s the people and the mindset surrounding our day to day that increases the potential for special memories. I mean, how would you feel if you woke up everyday with genuine belief and hope that it could be the best day of your life?
Special is an attitude. It’s a stubborn belief that today can turn out good. An unbreakable optimism that the best is yet to come and that nothing can keep you down for long. Special is found when you feel loved, but also when you are loving. Special comes when you embrace your circumstance and grow within it. Special is when you decide to unveil your unique and beautiful self. You are special, so why shouldn’t every day of your life be too?
So my challenge to you, during this weird, crazy time in our history, is to look for the special you found rather than mourn the special you lost. Appreciate the extra time you got to spend with your family. Find gratitude for the time you’ve had to reflect on what is really important.
As I said earlier, this time is not what we expected and maybe it isn’t what we deserved either, but it's what we got. How will you decide to take what you were given and make it truly special?