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To Surprise or Be Surprised? Both are Pretty Awesome

Tonight, I had the pleasure of attending a surprise party for my dear friend, Jasika. Her sister planned the shinding last week as a nice way to show Jas that she's loved and cared for. Jas is a bit of a superstar in my eyes. She just moved up to Portland and is working full-time and is in a Master's program part-time. Her job is in Salem, which is about an hour away from Portland, and she's making the commute everyday. Do you know why I think she's a superstar now? Not only does she work her butt off, she does it with a smile. She's the kind of girl who'll always ask about your life, she's quick to laugh at herself and she is herself no matter when or how you meet her. I'm excited that she lives closer to me so we can hang out more often! (I'll update this post with a photo--I must have have been out of it tonight because I didn't snap one. I know, very unlike me!) Jas loved the surprise. She could not stop smiling and even had tears (happy tears) as she went around to say hello to everyone. Those are the best kind of surprises--the ones where you really get them good! Happy birthday, Jasika! (Clockwise) Me, Jas, Priya and Jenn.

That got me thinking about surprises. Are you a fan? When's the last time you've thrown someone a surprise or have been surprised yourself?  According to Thought Catalog, it's one of the things you need to try at least once in your 20s: "14. Throw a surprise birthday party for a friend who has been going through a bad time, and who hasn’t had time to plan their own birthday party. Even if it’s just a few friends getting together for dinner, let them know that people care about them." I say, why limit this to just your 20s?

Surprise, Nirali! I'm in Chicago!

I love surprises. I love listening for clues, coming up with ideas and springing a surprise onto an unsuspecting friend or family member. (Good surprises that is.) Some are small things like sending someone a letter or flowers and some require more detective work and coordination, like surprising friends whose wedding I couldn't attend with a bottle of bubbly in their hotel during their honeymoon. And I'm pretty proud of the times I've surprised some of my best friends on a milestone birthday--either by showing up or taking them somewhere.

Surprising Jenn with a trip to SF for her birthday!

I'm not the easiest person to surprise. In fact, I'm pretty tough to surprise. It's not that I don't like surprises--I actually love them--I just ask a lot of questions and pay attention to details. For example, I know what cars my friends drive and have a weird way of remembering little things about them that most people don't pay attention to, like things that are hanging from the rearview mirror or a license plate holder or even part of their license plate. I'm also usually the planner so when someone else takes the lead, it throws me off a little. I also know that no one person knows all of the people I hold near and dear--in fact, many of my friends haven't crossed paths because they're parts of completely different social circles (and geographies). And again, I ask lots of questions and flags go off when I pay attention to peoples' responses. (Consider yourselves warned.) But my friends are pretty sneaky and smart themselves. I've had friends who sent me surprise packages to my house in Canada because I was there for my birthday. I've had friends almost show up on my doorstep for the holidays (their roadtrip got cancelled for other reasons but they told me their plan and I was touched by the thought.) And I've had a friend show up in Vegas to surprise me! (They were so sneaky about it! I was texting with her all morning and she bought wifi on the plane so we could keep up with the conversation without missing a beat! And our mutual friend, the one I was with in Vegas, changed the surprising friend's name in her phone so I wouldn't wonder why she was getting so many messages from her too! Sneaky sneaky.)

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Surprises don't have to be anything big, they can be as small as bringing in someone a treat because you thought of them. It's about doing something unexpected for someone else just to see a smile on their face. It's an incredible feeling to see the reaction on someone's face when you spring a surprise on them. And who knows, you might end up getting a surprise of your own!

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