Wanting to be Special

26 May

This morning after a swim and a set of PT exercises on the beach (try doing balance and hip/glute work in the sand!), I found myself curled up in a hammock. I knew it would be a while before anyone else woke up. So I enjoyed my time alone – hammock, water bottle, hoodie and shorts, the sun beginning to rise above me.  I brought a book but I ended up people-watching.  It’s impossible to hear the sharp shrill “Daddy/Mommy, look at me!” without also gazing in that direction at the latest finding by a small child.

Kids like to discover things about the world and themselves and their abilities.  And it’s like they were the first person to ever discover that particular thing.  They are that excited and proud of themselves.

A friend came out and sat on the porch – his lanky frame stretched out over a number of stairs. He watched me watching the kid and then said “We all want to be special, you know.”

That’s the irony.  We think we’re unique and special in wanting to be unique and special. When really, we’re all unique and special working extra hard to be unique and special which makes us, in some ways, very alike. We really don’t have to try so hard.

I dated a guy once who didn’t find me special. I didn’t know that at first but pretty soon it started to feel that way. But you think to yourself “I’m being silly” or “I’m being selfish” or “My expectations are too high.”  When someone tells you that you’re good but not good enough, that they want you to date them exclusively but they want to keep their own options open, you are being told that you are not special. And it’s okay to want to be special. There were many reasons I had to walk away from that relationship and I’m especially grateful now that I wasn’t special to him, it made it that much easier. All these years later, listening to him talk about his latest girlfriend in a very non-special way, is sad but also reaffirming.

It’s okay to want to be special. It’s okay to want to find your place within your family, to find things that you are good at that they aren’t.  To find things about your family members that you love and remind you how special they are.

But being special in the day-to-day means noticing those small special moments:

The friend asking if you can please hang out this weekend because she misses you.  That makes me feel special.

Graduation cards in the mail.  And friends who sat through a ridiculously long graduation ceremony and had a better attitude about it than me. That made me feel special. And a bit concerned about my attitude.

The friend who emails you when he’ll be working out at lunch in case you need someone to spot you.  Because he knows how much you fear asking random strangers for help.  That makes me feel special.

The friend who makes time, lots of time, to listen to whatever silly thoughts I have.  And then says “Is there anything else you want to discuss?” as if he has all the time in the world and doesn’t think I’m a completely illogical female who stresses about randomness.  That makes me feel special.

The friends who aren’t scared away by my tart frozen yogurt obsession. My love for steel cut oats. My need to do homework a week in advance in case something comes up.  The friend who sits through an entire Chelsea match for me, not because he loves the team, but because he knows I need someone to look at for reassurance during penalty kicks. The friend who gives me a hug when I say “I think I need a hug” even though I kinda think hugs are not his favorite thing. The friends who make terrible jokes about how bad I would look wearing fully padded hockey gear.  And I can’t even be annoyed because it’s all true and I love laughing at myself.

We all want to be special.

And there are always going to be people who make us feel very much less than special.  And although we need to respect them, we may need to work with or for them, or we may be stuck sitting next to them at family reunions, we don’t have to be friends with them.

There are a lot of people out there who find you special.  Enjoy it. Find and cherish the specialness of everyone you choose to interact with. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be special. But there’s nothing right with assuming no one else feels the same.

Spread the specialness. (Thats what I thought as I spread lemon glaze over blueberry pancakes this morning.)  Cheesy.  Not a slogan I’d be willing to wear on a t-shirt. But one I’m willing to ‘fess up to right now. And one I plan on thinking about as I pace some half marathon runners tomorrow morning.  It’s time to make specialness go viral.

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