Thursday, March 28, 2013

Learning the same lessons again and again

Hey friends!

As you may know, last Friday was my birthday. I had a stressful week at work (and several weeks leading up to it, honestly) and I was planning to take the day off work, sleep in, and do some shopping. Pat and my friends were gone for spring break, so it was just going to be me most of the day, but with living with Pat and two other roommates, I so rarely have the house (or my room) to myself, I was looking forward to it. Emily, my older sister, and I were going to have dinner. Simple. But perfect.

Then, leading up to my birthday, all week, people kept asking me what I was going to do for my birthday. (My own fault, really, for telling them it was my birthday.) First, coworkers. Then students.

And when I explained my plans (sleep in, shop a little, watch basketball) they all said, "Oh, but you have to do something fun!"

Everyone I talked to, it seemed my plans were not enough.

To have a good birthday, apparently, you have to have a big party. You have to go out and drink. You have to go skydiving or get a tattoo or do something worthy of telling your coworkers, something they can be impressed by.

And I began to believe it.

I've written before about how I'm really bad about comparing myself to others. I've also written about struggling to believe in the beauty of living simply -- of small joys, of quiet conversations, of reading books and enjoying time alone -- when the world glamorizes risk taking, breathless, the once-in-a-lifetime-movie-worthy-experiences.

(and even in that sentence, I have to challenge my thinking, because I've just implied my story isn't worth telling)

So I let myself get down on my plans. And I think I've fallen into this trap for a long time, especially with my birthday.

I began to think about the friends who were gone on spring break. I thought about the friends I've spent past birthdays with who, for whatever reason, are not in my life anymore.

I thought about the birthday parties I've gone to in the past for others and the birthday parties I've helped throw and (being super honest here, folks) wondered why I wasn't worth all the fanfare. Why, again and again, I end up alone on my birthday. I let myself feel not enough.

I threw myself a pity party. And I let myself be pathetic and feel pathetic.

On my birthday, I woke up at 10:15 ish. I laid in bed feeling sorry for myself. I answered a text from my mom by saying "Birthdays are stupid." I cried. I let my misery pool around me and I lied there in it.

I'm not sure what finally turned it around.

Around noon, I was tired of being miserable. I got dressed and went for a run in misty-almost-rain. I came home and had ice cream for lunch because I could.

I showered and went shopping. I bought a bunch of picture frames that I used later to hang some pictures from studying abroad. I went to the running store and bought some gear/supplies I'd been putting off buying.

And then I went to Emily's and she made me a FEAST and bought me ice cream and our Jayhawks won. It was delicious and fun and simple and perfect.

Once I stopped comparing my birthday to what I thought it should be (which was based on what everyone else thought it should be) I had a really good day.

And so, again and again, I'm learning to love what I love, regardless of anything else.

I'm learning that comparison is the thief of joy.

And slowly, every day, I'm learning that I am enough. I am worthy of love and support and I deserve to succeed. I work hard enough. I'm pretty enough. I'm strong enough. I am good enough.

I am enough.

Upon their return to Lawrence, my lovely friends Jenna and Sam, along with the wonderful bf Patrick, surprised me with a birthday dinner. I thought I was going to a poetry reading with Jenna and there the boys were.

This Saturday, I'm going to lunch with a friend from school.

It's not breathtaking. It's not shots in a crowded bar or tons of people all around me. It's nothing that would make the trailer of a movie, nothing to impress my coworkers.

But little moments -- homemade dinner with my sister, a surprise birthday celebration, hands held under the table and boys in button-up shirts, something to look forward to on a Saturday -- these are moments I'll remember, moments that build my relationships and build me up and make me feel valued and loved.

It's what I want, what I love. What else could I really ask for?

Hope you're all having a stellar Thursday. Happy almost weekend!


Chelsea Hannah said...

Happy birthday, friend.

Those are the moments you will remember the most, not the shots in a bar or crazy loud party.

Enjoy your week!


Sara said...

I'm glad you had a nice birthday. I used to feel the same way....I was always comparing myself to others and I felt like I had to do what everyone else thought I should be doing. Once I got past that, my birthdays have been low key and very simple. It's really nice! However, since I turn 30 in two years (YIKES!!!) I have already told the hubby I want a bigger party to celebrate, because, well, it's 30!

Don't let people get you down, and enjoy your birthdays and all of your days how YOU want. :-)

Kate said...

Having a birthday on Christmas Eve meant that I rarely got to have a birthday party or see my friends. So I think I moved beyond that level of disappointment when I was young.

But I can remember my phone and Facebook blowing up from all of the bday messages. In recent years, the number has dwindled, and I found myself being upset over it. I remember one of my closest friends even forgot to say anything at all. And I was so crushed! And then I realized, "Why do you care if they forgot? The ones that are important are the ones that remembered."

I'm so glad you ended up having a good birthday. :) And I love that they surprised you with dinner!

And yes, you are enough.

Jordan said...

I'm glad you had a great birthday in the end. I thoroughly enjoy a hearty meal for my birthday and that's about as far as I take it these days. You ARE enough, we all are. :) Great post and happy belated birthday!

Genna said...

The simple birthdays are the best. On my 18th I went dancing with friends for the first time and was underwhelmed, to say the least. I've never set foot in a bar and don't plan to. The huge parties are usually way too much for my anxiety. To each his own, but I'd rather have dinner and a drink with friends and relax.
I'm so sorry your day started off on the wrong foot (hugs), but I'm glad it ended well :)

Katrin said...

I am so glad that your birthday ended up bring great! But I absolutely know what you are talking about, I do the same all the time. I know that it does not do any good but sometimes I can't help myself! Have a wonderful year, my friend, you deserve the best!!

Ech and Will said...

I feel like birthdays should be celebrated in the way that makes you most happy. I'm glad you ended up having a great day!

Susannah said...

I'm sorry you went through this, dear. You're totally worth it and you don't need to do what others want. I think I'm a lot like you - I like things quiet and simple - but I get caught in the rut of what others want from me too. I'm glad you ended up having a wonderful birthday!

Tamara said...

I am enough

You said it right there. I'm so grateful that you were able to turn your birthday around by realizing this. It's hard sometimes I think for other people to realize that some people don't need all that extras to "have a good day".

For our first anniversary Alfred and I simply hung out with our neighbors on their back porch. I felt jipped for a little bit becuase everyone made a big deal about our anniversary and how it was the first one, but then I finally came around and realized - this is my life and it's amazing.

Sounds like you have a pretty amazing life too. :)

Katie said...

I had a run of birthdays that were absolutely terrible (for multiple reasons), but I just decided one day that it didn't really matter how the day went, and ever since then I've always had amazing birthdays. :) Happy birthday (belated!) friend!

exlibrisheather said...

I thought this was a really great and really honest post. You are absolutely right that some people over hype the "birthday experience." I think people put so much pressure on having the "perfect" birthday that they often miss the sweeter, quieter moments that can come with spending the day with loved ones. I'm glad you had a great day, and got to spend it your way. :)

Amy said...

I'm glad your mindset finally turned around! Birthdays are what YOU want them to be. I hate the notion of "you have to have a big party, with tons of people, and bla bla bla bla bla". No, sometimes you just want it to be low-key, other times you want a house full, and either is ok!
I'm glad you ended up having a surprise birthday dinner! <3 {you look beautiful by the way!}

Holly said...

I can't tell you how much I relate to this post right now!! Seriously, I think I could have written it myself.

I used to have parties in the past but stopped after a while. And all my other friends made big deals about their birthdays because WE all made it big for them. But when I try to make my stuff big, it always seems to flop. And then this year mine was on Easter so I was just with my family (which turned out great anyway!) but at work, where I spend 80% of my life, I got NOTHING except a card from my boss, which was nice. But for the other girls birthdays, we went out the lunch and a few people got them presents or cards. Why couldn't they get ME anything? It just made me feel like I wasn't appreciated. And I know that might sound selfish and I don't want it to, but when it's your birthday and you do so much for other people on your's just nice to get something back.

That being said, you are amazing and wonderful and the people that matter are the ones who will SHOW YOU that they matter!!! (sheesh, I need to take my own advice lol) There's nothing wrong with wanting to spend your birthday relaxing!! You don't have to fit in with others and pretend that skydiving is the coolest thing ever, because that shiz freaks the heck outta me and I would never do it, and renting a party bus is NOT my I'm glad you ended up having a good day after realizing all that :)

And sorry this post is a novel. Word.


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