Photo- This was taken on my solo trip to the beautiful Borocay islands. I decided to do what most tourists don’t do on an island, I went on a horse ride instead of water sports. Advantages of traveling alone, no one can call your plans crazy 😉
The concept of celebrating oneself is fairly new. I am sure when it came about, but I became aware of it roughly 10 years ago. I had not given it much thought until life brought me in front of some of the biggest hurdles I had seen and I had to give my all and more to cross them. Unlike in childhood, there was no one to applaud my achievement though, no one to hand me a trophy or pat me on the back for a job well done. I found myself at many a Eureka moment (in my head) with no one witnessing my victories, the herculean feats of self-rescue. This was not for lack of friends or family; I have many and am blessed with some wonderful humans around me. It is then that I realized the true meaning of celebrating me. The impact this would have on my mental health and how liberating it would be in the future.
You may term it as pampering the self or rewarding oneself. But I never used it as a carrot & stick system, that method of motivation doesn’t go well with me. It took me years of self-introspection and reading and educating myself to understand that what I had experienced was not a normal childhood, I was a survivor of a narcissistic parent. It took me years to acknowledge the deep-rooted thought patterns this had caused especially around self-worth.
I am not an expert in this and I haven’t mastered self-worth yet, like many of you, I am trying. I started out like any ordinary girl, fresh out of college with many dreams, unfortunately the big dream was influenced by movies. I was also taught by society that celebrations are meant only for certain occasions and milestones in life, like birthdays till you turn 18, engagements, weddings, childbirth etc. Everything else was vanity and a waste of money, not worthy of a celebration. Let me start by setting the scene so you can understand easily. My idea of a relationship, as mentioned was highly influenced by movies. I wanted a perfect husband who would buy me a diamond ring and we would travel the world together. It never occurred to me that I could achieve the above without a partner, it never even crossed my mind, it was not even a remote possibility. So, I had based my entire ideal life on one relationship fulfilling my dreams. The real twist started with the crash and burn of that relationship which was relatively quick. The world still views divorce as a failure, people look at you differently once they know you are separated or divorced. As if you are incomplete now, even close family members and friends tend to do this, it is all subconscious behavior. At first, even I thought life was over and I resigned to the fact that this was the greatest tragedy and failure. My self-esteem took a deep dive into the Mariana trench of life.
As my self-introspection and study widened, I noticed that I have always been my own best friend. I grew up with wonderful friends and amazing humans, but no one witnessed and felt my life the way I had. When I entered the whirlwind romance, I left myself behind somewhere. When tragedy hit, I was the one who nurtured me back to health, emotionally and mentally, even physically and financially. On the first birthday after the separation, I did something I had never imagined. I walked into a famed jewelry store and bought myself a small diamond ring, it had three tiny diamonds set in gold. I walked out of the store wearing it and later that night treated myself to a burger+fries+coke guilty dinner at McDonalds. Sitting in that crowded McDonalds, eating my burger in peace and watching people move around, a sudden sense of pride took over me. I no longer felt pity for myself, I felt immense pride for the strong, independent woman I had become. For the first time, I was celebrating me, I was breaking the stereotype in my own head around celebrations. I hadn’t discussed or told anyone about it, this was totally a spontaneous affair.
Since then, I worked hard and played harder. I traveled the world and experienced food, art, culture, language, and people, all on my own. Not because life stopped throwing hurdles at me, as is its nature, life continued to test me and still does. But every time I overcome an impossible situation, I marvel at my own resilience and all the more the reason to celebrate me. It is sad to see that people around have not caught up. I see others trying to celebrate themselves facing the same reaction from their loved ones. We are not trying to overcompensate for any loss in life, we are just now living life as it’s supposed to be.
Achievements need not be huge and for the general public, they need to be huge, like climbing a mountain or running a marathon. My advice is do not expect anyone to understand or join in your celebrations, it is great if they do, but remember celebrating you is important. You existing is reason enough to celebrate, you deciding to live today and give it your best is reason enough to celebrate. Do not keep anything for a special occasion that may come someday in the future. If the opportunity presents, go for it. Celebrating you should be a matter of pride and a personal sense of high self-worth. It need not be a diamond ring; it can be a slice of pastry or a long solo drive on your bike. It can be a book or a spa day, an ice cream or a trip to Venice. It can be sneaking into the bedroom for a powernap or getting your nails done at the salon.
To summarize my rant; Don’t wait to be celebrated, you celebrate you. Because no matter how close a friend you have, only you know what makes you happy and what you have survived in life. Self-talk is of utmost importance, praising yourself for achievements even your parents or spouse cannot understand. Live life fully, throw yourself parties and invite people to join you. If they don’t, party anyway. You are the precious gift of God to you, only you will remain till you die. Everything and everyone else cannot be guaranteed.
I understand not all days are the same, you will have some good days and some bad days when your self-esteem might be low. It is alright, you are allowed to wallow in self-pity for a short while, but when that passes, be ready to celebrate you. This can do wonders for your mental health and self-confidence. As a species we are social and hence celebrations are social gathering events, but the pandemic has shown us that we cannot take our freedom for granted. Should we be sad if on a joyous occasion we are in a lock-down? Not at all, we should learn to celebrate no matter the circumstance.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating isolation. What I am saying is, let us remove the tags and criteria for celebrations. Let us learn to applaud our own good work. Charity begins at home, remember that. You cannot give if your cup is empty and no one is going to fill it up for you, but you. Be your own favorite person in the whole wide world, your energy and optimism will become magnetic. Society’s milestones do not dictate your worth, nothing and nobody defines you. You are amazing just for the fact that you show up each day. So go out there and treat yourself to a small celebration of being you.