How Are You Special?

On the PBS show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, host Fred Rogers regularly looked into the camera and spoke directly to the viewer. “You are special,” he would affirm.

This was a powerful message to the audience of children, who were most likely not used to hearing such a thing from an adult, particularly one on television.

The underlying idea, that each individual is special and important, is also useful for adults. Too often, it is easy to be a cog in a machine at work, or overwhelmed as a spouse or as a parent at home. Sometimes, we need a simple reminder of our own specialness.

Give it some thought. What can you do better than anything else? What sets you apart from those around you? In what ways are you important? How are you special?

Related questions: Why do we care what strangers think of us? Why do we feel the need to belong? What makes you you? How can we build confidence? Why is love important?

7 thoughts on “How Are You Special?”

  1. To self-identify what makes you special feels a little awkward, a little vain. So, I’m glad you also asked “What can you do better than anything else?” I’d suggest three things I can do better than anything else:

    1. I am a good mentor;
    2. I am a decent gardener; and
    3. I have an eye for a good picture.

    I am pretty sure I am a good mentor. As evidence I’d point to the fact that I’ve supervised scores of interns over the years, and I’ve heard it through the grapevine that my reviews are pretty good. I also know how to cheerlead for other people organizing their communities to get involved in social justice work.

    I’m a pretty good gardener. Actually, I have a lot to learn in this regard. But each year I get a mighty harvest, so I’m doing something right. I think it’s because I know how to grow complimentary plants together; I do crop-rotation every year; and, I know the value of compost.

    Lastly, I have a eye for a good picture. While I still suck at what makes for good camera settings — I’m trying to learn more here — I can fairly naturally figure out what makes for a good picture subject, and I know how to place the subject in a good place within the frame.

    Friends, what do you think? Will you back me up here? Also, I’d love to read what you think makes you special. I’ll back you up if warranted. Or I’ll tell you what I find special in you.

    1. I’ll back you up 100% Michael! Your love of heirloom vegetables encouraged me to grow mostly heirlooms in my garden. You’re transparency in sharing your struggles with anxiety and depression have made me feel not so alone.

      You take awesome photos! I love your garden close ups.

      I would like to say that you are a good friend. We may not agree on everything but you are always respectful. Thank you for being my friend.

    2. ” I also know how to cheerlead for other people organizing their communities to get involved in social justice work”. Michael, I have been the beneficiary of this talent of yours. You definitely have a special talent as a cheerleader!

  2. I am kind, and not just to those I know and like. I am kind to strangers. I am kind to people who are not kind to me. I am kind, even when those around me are not.

    I have to echo Michael and claim a decent gardening ability. Though I can’t control acts of nature, I certainly can grow an abundance of healthy produce for my family and friends. Anyone who wanders by my garden, walks away with an armful of goodies.

    I am a good wife. I love, honor and respect my husband. I bring him coffee in bed most mornings and make him his favorite treats for dessert. I do my best to make him comfortable when he gets home from work. I defer to him on decisions, though, I have to say that my voice is always heard and my feelings respected.

    1. Cecily, your capacity for kindness is inspiring. It is, in fact, the first trait I think of when I think of you. And, I love how it got laced it in with your ability to garden: “Anyone who wanders by my garden, walks away with an armful of goodies.” Your friend, Michael

  3. I’m special because God created me to be unique and special. How do I know this? He/She brought my wife from Bolivia to meet me when I was serving in the Navy in San Diego.
    Because I’m married to an immigrant, I have an international view of the world, with family members scattered all over the globe, many of whom I’ve been fortunate to visit.

    I feel special because I have such a special family. My parents and grandparents were special people, as are my wife, her family, our daughter, her husband, and their girls. As they say, “the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

    My wife introduced me to the Catholic faith when we were dating. After 50 some years, I’m an active member of my parish, and sang in the choir at mass this week. My singing voice is just ok, but the choir director makes me feel special.

    If this sounds like boasting, I’d like to end by saying that I can’t take credit for any of it. Everything that makes me special is a gift from God. The same goes for you. I didn’t pick my parents, or my teachers, or my home town, or this country. I’ve had the benefit of a guardian angel who has been there whenever I was in danger. Yes, I’m special, and so are you. After all, if Mr. Rogers said it, it must be true!

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