What does Sonderlier mean? I often get this question. The word is derived from Sonder – a neologism with a beautiful meaning inspired by its French (to explore) and German (special) parents:
The profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passed in the street, has a life as complex as one's own, which they are constantly living despite one's personal lack of awareness of it. (Wikitionary)
Sonderlier says everybody’s everyday experiences matter, and that collides with what we’ve been taught. We have been implicitly fed the message that the everyday doesn’t count. An “adventure,” a “real” experience, needs to be something huge and crazy, like climbing Everest or exploring the Arctic, as if nothing else deserves excitement or recognition. We only get recognized for doing something “extraordinary.” I bought this message too. It comes with a price. I dragged myself through 90% of my life to get to those “worthy” moments and resented the “boring” day-to-day, because I associated it with a vague feeling of failure. With the popularity of social media culture, the resentment worsened. Everyone else’s life seemed so exciting that it was too embarrassing to look at mine. Then I started noticing that my own “presentable” stories were the only ones I shared with others, and more importantly, the only memories I deemed valuable. I estimated they made up at most 10% of my life.
In the past year, I started to quesition this message – do we really want to put a 90% discount on our life?
Adventure is exploring an unknown territory containing uncertainty, and success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. If we think about it, that has nothing to do with big or small. In fact, adventure is everywhere in our everyday “mundane” events: trying a new recipe, making a new friend, having a heart-to-heart conversation with someone, admitting a mistake, taking a different route to work, talking to a therapist, etc.. It is through these small adventures that real connections are built, with the outside world or within ourselves. Many small steps. That’s how real growth happens.
When we think change and adventure require impossibly large steps we end up taking none at all. It’s paralyzing. It’s about time for us to take credit for the courage we show on a daily basis – they are the ones that will end up building mountains.
Sonderlier is a movement for us to honor our everyday adventures, to give credit to the courage and growth that come from many small steps, and to build authentic connection with our inner lives and with this world. It’s a rejection of the paralyzing philosophy that people have to be giants in order to achieve. It is the belief that no adventure is too small ✨.