Rehearsal, falafel and a prom dress

A student shares how three moments of “small joy” on Jan. 18, 2019, left a big impact on her understanding of happiness.


January 18, 2019

January has never been my favorite month. I much prefer hot weather to the bitter cold, but something about Jan. 18, 2019, feels incredibly warm to me. 

Nothing particularly riveting happened. It wasn’t the day I committed to college, went to New York City for the first time or saw Taylor Swift in concert (I ended up waiting a few more years for this). Instead, the sequence of three, consecutive, simple things brought me great joy on that chilly day: theatre rehearsal, falafel and a junior prom dress. 

I had a plethora of peak high school girlhood moments. I attended coming-of-age-like basement New Year’s Eve parties. I received two promposals and delivered one myself. I even played the lead — a serial killer, actually — in an Agatha Christie play. 

Those are significant experiences, but there’s also something special about a few simple moments. The three “small joys” on this day added to my definition of what happiness truly is: excitement can be found in the day-to-day details, and I can look back on those details with fondness. 

In three acts, here are the following joyful events that ensued on Jan. 18, 2019:


I spent most of my 10 years as a performer on stage, singing, dancing, acting or doing a mix of all three. January 2019, however, was my first time student-directing my high school’s winter production, Mary Poppins. 

I student-directed with two other friends and together we helped our director with blocking, choreography and auditions. We also brainstormed ideas for costumes, props, sets and scene flow. 

Being hired as a student director was one of the highest creative honors in our theatre company, and I was so excited to experience the opportunity alongside my friends with a show I had loved since my childhood.

January was typically when things started to pick up speed for our winter musical. It was roughly a month after auditions and two months before we started performing the show in front of our classmates, friends, family and the general public in our 1,200-seat auditorium. 

There were many more read-throughs, music rehearsals and dance rehearsals to be had, as we were just less than two months away from our “hell week,” consisting of 12-hour weekend rehearsals. 

Nothing too extraordinary happened on Jan. 18, a Friday rehearsal, but trust me, sometimes those rehearsals were the best. Hours of small moments like laughing with my friends in the auditorium or coaching people’s cockney accents or putting myself in the tap number (because I could) comprised the best rehearsals and reaffirmed my love for musical theatre.

And, to top it off, I knew there was falafel on the ride home.


Even though it closed a few years ago, I have deemed the small, local falafel shop, World of Falafel, the best falafel ever.

The former restaurant introduced my mom and me to falafel in my junior year of high school, and I was instantly blown away by the food and eclectic ambiance. The shop had Game of Thrones posters on display and the brown tiled walls were signed by different hungry customers.

I’ve had food allergies for most of my life. Avoiding eggs, dairy, fish and mustard can be really difficult and alienating at restaurants. Luckily, the owners of the falafel shop were extremely understanding of my allergies by switching out spoons and cleaning surfaces to make sure allergens didn’t cross-contaminate with my food.

I finally had another restaurant to add to the list of Fallon-safe establishments.

On that fateful January day, I went to the Fallon-safe World of Falafel, retrieved my parents’ order and my usual: a pita, three falafel balls, salat yerakot, tahini sauce, a side of crispy fries and a drink. It was the perfect way to fuel my body after hours of school and rehearsal, where I was often too busy to eat a truly substantial meal, without worrying about my allergies.

I went to finish my falafel at home, where I knew my highly awaited junior prom dress had been delivered earlier in the day.


The moment I had been waiting for the entire day had finally arrived: my junior prom dress was delivered.

Junior prom was just two short months away, but I had spent the last year curating Pinterest boards and scoping out the best places to buy a dress. I had a few goals in mind: it had to have flowers, it had to be pastel-colored and it absolutely could not be poofy. 

Eventually, I found the perfect ballet-pink A-line gown layered with a lace overlay strewn with purple and cream flowers from 

I immediately ripped the packaging open and slipped on the dress. I walked to the mirror and smiled from ear to ear as my mom fluffed out the small train. I felt as beautiful as I thought I would in the gown.

Visions of hairstyles, makeup and alterations flooded my mind. I was so excited to know I would be spending an important moment of my junior year wearing something that made me feel so confident. 

Jan. 18, 2019, made me feel so grateful for the details and the sequences of joy. From a productive rehearsal to fulfilling and nourishing food to the gown of my dreams, that day taught me I can continuously find happiness in the smallest, simplest moments. 

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