What does it mean to be extraordinary? Does it mean that we’ve found a cure for cancer or that we’ve solved world hunger? Does it mean that we always put others before ourselves and contribute to society in a host of positive ways? I guess it can mean lots of different things to lots of different people. The definition is, “very unusual or remarkable” and some synonyms are “exceptional, amazing, astonishing, incredible, and phenomenal” just to name a few. Who doesn’t want to be all of those things and more? When I was young I had dreams of doing great things, but the days passed with carefree abandonment and life moved on. As I got older I had plenty of dreams, but I struggled with self-esteem, as so many others do, and I was in a constant search for myself. The feeling of mediocrity was suffocating, and the fear of failure was paralyzing. It certainly wasn’t a great way to develop any sense of who I was meant to be.
Being a middle child in a large family often had me craving attention and looking for approval for anything that I was doing. My oldest sibling was the leader and my youngest siblings were the babies, who got whatever they wanted. I don’t mean to sound like, woe is me! If you have ever read anything about birth order, this is pretty typical. But as typical as it may be, it left me constantly feeling like I was a sub-par kid. I don’t blame anyone, it was just the way that it was. Constantly needing approval and trying to feel good about myself was a tough road. I wanted to be extraordinary, but instead I felt ordinary.
I imagine most of us struggle with feeling ordinary a lot of the time, so how can we shift our thinking to realize that the things that we do everyday are actually much more amazing than we originally thought? I have always struggled with anxiety and depression. I have never shared the details of this with really anyone other than my closest family, but I feel lucky to still be here. I was forced to deal with some very significant traumas from childhood these past few years and confronting these demons took a serious toll. There were many times that I thought about giving up and I knew that I needed to seek help outside myself. It was one of the toughest moments of my life and terribly hard to admit that I didn’t have it all together. So I started to see a really good counselor, and with the support of an incredible husband and kids I began to look at my usual, ordinary life, in a different light.
My journey began with daily tasks. What am I doing everyday that has value? I started with my teaching. I paid closer attention to how my music class affected the students that I had. They were having fun, they were learning, they were laughing with me, and they left wanting to return. That was a good thing. It made me realize the impact that I have on them, but the even bigger impact that they have on me. They keep me young! I also looked at how I interacted with my colleagues and how I have always had a very wonderful relationship with them. This helped me focus on the positive aspects of my job, which had also become mundane. I paid closer attention to the great friends in my life that loved me and appreciated me. I really am blessed by incredible friends. I started to pay attention to the small things that I did for my family. Running the kids to all of their activities, making their lunches, folding their laundry, and helping them with homework became tasks that I appreciated more.
I am not a positive person. I never have been. It is probably what my husband gets on me about more than anything. Seeing the good in the everyday is a constant struggle for me, and unfortunately something I am afraid that my youngest son inherited from his mom. Because of him, I had to do better, I had to be better! I had to find the courage to change my thinking. Change is a choice and that is VERY scary. CHANGE IS HARD!! I had to dig deep down inside myself and discover that I am indeed extraordinary to others in more ways than I ever knew. And guess what, you can do this too because you are extraordinary already. You might just need a new mirror. I certainly did!
Being a great and loyal friend is extraordinary. Giving your children love and understanding is extraordinary. Showing kindness to others is extraordinary. Volunteering is extraordinary. Taking care of animals is extraordinary. Not sitting in judgement of others is extraordinary. Working hard at your job is extraordinary. Showing true compassion for others and their situations is extraordinary. Bettering yourself is extraordinary. Finding the good in others is extraordinary. The list could go on and on. My point is that you do not have to cure cancer or solve world hunger, you just have to be the best version of yourself and that is enough. Stop living your life in a way that is mundane. No one can fix it or change it except for you. Why are you waiting for someone else to create happiness in you? Why are you letting someone else dictate how extraordinary you are? Only you can do that. Examine each interaction that you have and see where you can improve, but also see where you are successful. Don’t wait to make a change until tomorrow. You are not guaranteed tomorrow, that’s too late. Life is short, make the most of it.
I know that I will always struggle with my own demons. We are our own worst enemies. But for today, I choose to believe that I AM extraordinary. Those that really love me believe this too. I am so grateful for my family and true friends. They know me, REALLY know me, and they get me. They believe in me, and I am eternally grateful for that. They helped save me because they knew I could make a change. They helped me believe that I was worth saving. Even though fear tried to tell me otherwise, they made me remember that fear is a liar. It tries to keep you from being the best version of yourself. So find a new mirror. Find one that lets you know just how freaking awesome and capable you are. The dream of being extraordinary will no longer be a dream, it will be a reality. And that’s today’s dish. Peace my extraordinary friends!