You’re Not Special

You’re not special. Okay, well, you and your story are special because I have never heard them before! But at my age, I have heard a lot of life stories and have read many biographies and autobiographies. While I find myself engaged in these unique stories, I also relate to them and say, “I totally get it. Something like that happened to me at one point too.” By this point in my life, I know my story is not that special.

We’re All Special and Not Special

Raise your hand if you have experienced a breakup, divorce, heartbreak, or addiction. How about financially losing everything, going bankrupt, starting over, or gaining and then losing success? A lot of hands probably went up. Trust me, I could have added more to that list of experiences I have had. But again, they are not special.

By sharing my experiences, I aim to help other people. I’m not doing this to create some sort of drama log. Instead, I speak or write from my side and what I have gone through in the hopes that it helps someone else who has gone through it.

The best way to stop thinking “This is only happening to me,” “If you only knew,” or “You just do not understand” is to first look at your part in the situation. And second, be of service. Yes, be of service!

My Not Special Story

I’ll share my story first. I found myself broke and divorced with three young kids to raise and no job. I knew how to model, act, host, and wait tables—yep, that was my résumé at forty. I was a full-time mom. I had to reinvent myself and get a “real job” despite not having many hirable skills and hardly an education. (I barely graduated from high school!)

I took a well-known path: I got my real estate license. But I did this in 2008, and do you remember what happened that year? Yep, the market crashed. I lived in a ski resort town, Park City, Utah, so buying a million-dollar second home was pretty much the first item off anyone’s to-do list that year. (Unless, that is, you waited for the slow season to buy a $5 million house for $2.5 million, then that was your year!)

I had to start over again.

My Special Turning Point

The kids went to live with their dad. Again, I had no money, so I moved in with my mom, who lived in a fifty-five-and-over community. I started to mirror Cameron Diaz’s character, Maggie, in the movie In Her Shoes. I hardly got out of bed. Sometimes I lay by the pool and watched the fifty-five and overs do their pool workouts, which I should have been doing along with them to change my miserable state.

At the time, I thought my situation was special. Every morning my mom would come in and ask me if I wanted anything to eat, I would just shake my head no. Then one day she asked me if I could walk her dog, Heidi. That gray schnauzer saved my life. I agreed and in slow, depressing motion got the leash and took her on the golf cart to the small dog park in the community. All the people already there that day knew Heidi and asked where my mom was. I barely spoke to anyone. I was so miserable.

After a few days of taking Heidi to the dog park, I started to get to know the other people and their dogs. I listened to their stories of how their kids never came to visit, their health problems, or the number of friends they had recently lost.

They would tell me, “It is so great you are spending time with your mom.” I happened to be staying with her when she needed hip surgery, so I was also a full-time dog walker and therapist to all my new friends. I started to pull myself away from my miserable thoughts, and I was being of service. In some ways, these people and this dog saved my life.

Being of Service

It may sound strange, but I had found myself a new purpose, one that was not about making money or being exceptional at anything. I was just helping, listening, and being there for others. My story is not special, and your story is not special. We are all just human beings going through this life together to help and be there for each other.

I ended up being like Maggie toward the end of the movie when she knows everyone’s name, shops for the community, and knows all the gossip in the community. That was me driving along in my golf cart waving to my new friends and their dogs, just smiling and forgetting I had no job and no purpose (yet). But the important thing was I had gotten my smile back!

You’re not special. You’re just another person with a story. But that story can actually help someone else if you choose to be of service. Here’s my challenge for you: do something of service every day that no one knows about. Now that is special!

Deborah Driggs

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