The everyday and the extraordinary: A short story

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Frances Yang/Staff

Sitting in front of a computer screen in my small bedroom, I don’t feel like I have anything extraordinary to say. I’m an 18-year-old student living in an ordinary city, just as average and insignificant as the next person. Sometimes, I lay in bed at night, pondering my predicament. I’ll simply think about my inevitable future — ending up a forgotten name in a world of billions who ultimately made no real difference in the world. My digital clock blinks at me, almost as if it understands.

Growing up, my mother always reminded me to remain optimistic. The poster she got me in third grade, with the words “I can and I will” sprawled across it, still hangs in my bedroom at home. The little notes reminding me to “Dream big” and “Take chances” still snuck their way into my lunch bag every so often throughout high school. Despite my constant criticisms, calling her gestures cliched, I still find solace in those inspiring words.

In fact, I often find myself turning to quotes for guidance. When I was only 12 years old, I failed my first exam. My teacher’s eyes gazed down at me with disappointment. My eyes stung, and the red felt-tip marker that bled all over my test seeped into my soul. I ran home, hoping to wallow in pity and defeat under my bed sheets. Instead, as I swung open my bedroom door, I was greeted by my poster, radiating hope. I found empathy in the uplifting words, in the idea that this failure would pass. Others have been where I am today, discouraged by a misstep, but they persevered — as would I.

Of course, a comforting expression pasted onto a charming photo does not solve all of one’s problems. In fact, I have never been that keen on the sappy or sentimental. Instead, the tangibility of numbers is the realm where I am most comfortable. When I arrive home from a hectic day of lectures, fiddling with equations is where I have complete control. The sound of my pencil against paper and my calculator keys clicking under my fingertips brings me stability, a sense of comfort. While my midterm scores stand yet to be determined or my class schedule remains undecided, my calculus homework stays reliable and reassuring.

Despite the comfort I find in the predictable, taking risks and exploring new areas of the world exhilarate me. From feeling the sand squish between my toes on the beaches of Punta Cana to the sound of horns blaring on the hectic streets of India, each place I visit shows me things I never imagined. Cliff-diving in Greece gave me a euphoric rush of adrenaline unlike anything I had previously experienced. The adventures abroad are unforgettable, but I also love my home back in Southern California. I love the smell of waffles in the toaster and the sound of laughter by the pool. I even love the early-morning runs to the grocery store because someone forgot milk. I love the everyday and the extraordinary.

Each day, when the alarm on my digital clock sounds, blaring an upbeat song from one of my many Spotify playlists, I start a new day. I start a new adventure and take on a new opportunity to do something great. To me, this is pretty extraordinary.

Contact Brianna Brann at [email protected].