I have a list saved on my computer of the best days of my life. Embarrassingly, Zac Efron is responsible for three of those days. My list ranges from the day I took a selfie with the SLU basketball team to the weekend I traveled alone to Morocco. They’re days that I was so overwhelmed with joy that I never wanted to forget them. I thought that if I wrote them down, I could hold on to those feelings a little bit longer and linger in the positive memories. I can go back and read that list and resurrect some of those feelings.
I started the list, “Best Days of My Life” because I was in job interview mode. You know when probable employers are asking you for all of these super specific circumstances such as, “a time when you went above and beyond”? It’s hard to think of an example right on the spot. So to prepare for a future job interview, you make a list (in your head at least, if not on a piece of paper). One day I was asked, “What was the best day of your life?” And much like my first job interview, I couldn’t think of one specific day on the spot. So I spent time perusing my memories from the past 20+ years and wrote down some of my personal favorites. To this day I add a bullet point when one of my days is simply the best.
So if someone ever asks me, “What was the best day of your life?” or “What is your favorite memory?” I can file through that list and pick one of those revered moments. Because I’m always so ready to answer that question and because it brings such happy thoughts to my day, I like to ask people that question. I never thought it was weird, overly personal, or intruding until one day when my roommate refused to answer.
I like to ask this question because I feel like I don’t make a great first impression. The first thing you might notice about me is my chain earring or my overly casual dress code that is too often accompanied by a men’s flannel shirt. Maybe you’ll notice that my hair is a mess and I never take my purse off. These are all truthful characteristics about myself, but there’s a lot more to me than that. Because my flannel shirt, purse, and I can usually be found in the corner of the room or the back of a large group, people rely on my dressed-down looks as my main source of communication. While I’m not my best self when I’m shying away from a group of extroverts, I am my best self when I’m talking about the best days of my life. I revert to this question as a conversation starter because I want to see the best version of others; we all can’t make perfect first impressions.
I didn’t always realize that I was the best version of myself when I was describing the bullet points on my list. It was brought to my attention by a stranger when I was being forced to take part in dreadful small talk. We were sitting at a round table so it was hard to hide from the conversation. The chatter revolved around biomedical engineering and other topics I wasn’t familiar with. I smiled and nodded and kept quiet until I heard someone mention Madrid. I didn’t realize it, but according to the stranger across the table, my eyes lit up. I immediately started talking about how my semester abroad changed me in more ways than I ever thought it could, how much of my heart was left in Madrid in December of 2012. It didn’t take but a minute for the conversation to flow back to biomedical engineering. As quickly as the topic changed, so did the version of myself that I was portraying.
I don’t want people to only know me as the girl with the chain earring and cross body purse. I want people to know the girl who dangled her feet from the Cliffs of Moher, the girl who took a Latin Rhythms dance class in Madrid, the girl who prayed in the chapel where St. Ignatius converted to Christianity, the girl who biked in the rain in Barcelona and loved every second of it. So when I meet you, I want to talk about the best days of our lives, not the weather. I’m more than that crossbody purse and a flannel shirt. I’m that girl screaming through happy tears at a One Direction concert, feeding the stingrays at the St. Louis Zoo, and hammering with Habitat for Humanity on spring break.
My roommate didn’t want to tell me about the best day of her life because it was her own special memory. Only she could understand and feel the happiness that her memory gave her, so why would she want to tell others who just wouldn’t understand? Unlike my roommate, I like to share mine because in sharing those memories I not only get to share my happiest memories, but also the best version of myself.