Katherine Schafler is an NYC-based psychotherapist, writer and speaker. I love what she talks about in this post – we love the ordinary in most people. For more of her work, join her newsletter community, read her blog, or follow her on Instagram.
So, whenever someone calls me, I become confused.
Why are they calling? Is something wrong? Is it my birthday today? And I just sort of stare at the phone until it goes to voicemail.
Then I text later, ‘did you call?’ so we can have our conversation over text, which is obviously the civilized thing to do.
But of course, we all have our tiny handful of people that we bestow with the ironic but ultimate gesture of modern affection: talking to on the good ole’ fashioned phone.
Among my tiny handful is one of my best friends; when she calls and I’m not able to pick up, she leaves a full on conversation on my voicemail as if I’m on the other end of the phone. If the voicemail cuts her off because she’s been talking for 6 minutes, she calls back and starts another message with, “Hey, something’s wrong with your voicemail, anyway, so then…”
This is an ordinary thing she does all the time, and it’s a MASSIVE clue to the following question that you’re gonna get right because you’re really smart:
What do you think these 4 things have in common?
- “He rests the TV remote on his belly, it’s cute.”
- “The way she takes forever to order exactly what she wants at a restaurant, and then ends up eating whatever I get anyway.”
- “My son’s laugh, I’d know that laugh anywhere!”
- “When she comes over she walks herself right into the kitchen and helps herself to whatever’s in the fridge or pantry while we talk. No annoyingly formal, “Do you mind if I…Is it okay if I grab,’ she just helps herself and we go on talking.”
Yep, you guessed right, these 4 things are all ordinary, too.
They’re also all examples of what people say they appreciate, miss, or love MOST about the ones closest to them.
Does it surprise you that people connect most to the ordinary things about you?
Every day I listen to people talk about their lives, about the people in their lives.
Here are some things I NEVER hear:
- “I miss the way he got a 3.8 GPA in college.”
- “Her arms were just so perfectly toned when she rested a hand on her hip while posing for photos, that’s when I knew I loved her. I need those toned arms back so badly.”
- “The best thing about my daughter is that she earns so much money, it’s what makes me most proud as a parent.”
Yep, all those special accomplishments that you think make you so extraordinary and lovable?
I have to tell you something, nobody cares.
I know that sounds harsh, but I’m saying it with love. Because the reality is there are thousands upon thousands of people with degrees from Harvard, amazing bodies, beautiful homes, stamped out passports, tons of money, prestigious job titles, shiny awards and hundreds of other accolades that up the fancy.
But what people care deeply about and cherish and talk to their therapists most about and fall madly in love with you over is actually your particular combination of ordinary.
That’s what makes you so extraordinary, that’s what makes you so lovable, that’s what makes you so irreplaceable.
The other stuff has its place, so maybe it’s not fair to say that the people who care about you don’t care at all about your more quantifiable achievements, but those achievements are so so so incredibly secondary to your wonderfully ordinary qualities.
Still not convinced?
Think about someone you genuinely adore, and one thing you adore in particular about that person. I guarantee you that thing you just thought up isn’t on their resume. Why?
Because you don’t care about their resume, and they don’t care about yours.
So next time you get hung up on what you haven’t yet accomplished with your work, your body, your home, your ability to be perfectly charming in any social situation, and so on, please take a second to remember this:
People get hooked on the ordinary, it’s always what is most missed, loved and appreciated about a person. Always.
Real connection is born from enjoying the ordinary, in yourself and in others. So let yourself appreciate the ordinary parts of the people you’re about to meet, the people you already know and love, and of course, in yourself.
Normally I would take this part of the post to ask you to comment and tell me something ordinary you love about someone in your life, but what I’d like even more is if you just told that person directly instead (via text, obviously).
The best parts of life are hiding in plain sight, embrace the ordinary and I promise you’ll see them.