This has been a really strange year for celebrations. All of them have looked very different to the way we imagined them, and for many people, me included, celebrating has had to become an exercise in creativity as we figure out how to celebrate when we can’t go out or meet people in the way we had planned.
I have never been a party person. I am an introvert, and also spent a long time in my teens being bullied, so parties were never my favourite thing. Despite this, I always allowed myself one day a year to feel special. One day, every year, where no bully could touch me because on my birthday, I knew my value. This was my way of celebrating, allowing myself to feel good about myself, every year.
Two years ago, I was in a really good place. I had a new job, and I was very proud of the challenges I had overcome to get it. I had made new friends, I had been out with them a few times, I was trying new things and I was feeling confident and strong. I knew my value. I figured I would try for something a bit more exciting than usual, I would be brave and go out and celebrate with a bit more style.
None of my friends wanted to celebrate my birthday with me. I was gutted, but I figured – in two years I will turn 40, and THEN I will celebrate, with or without them.
Well my 40th birthday came last month and of course, we are in the midst of a pandemic. Not only that, but I am now disabled and celebrations don’t come easy. So my 40th birthday became about finding creative ways to celebrate, and self-care. I would find all the quiet ways to love myself, and I would see what WAS possible, despite everything else going on around us.
Two things happened. Firstly, I had the wonderful privilege of going out into the woods with friends and having a photo shoot. I don’t think I could have EVER imagined this two years ago when my (old) friends all bailed on me! Secondly, my partner surprised me with a hot tub hire. He isn’t naturally good at gift giving. He has given me some terrible gifts over the years, but this one was PERFECT. I spent two weeks soaking my tired muscles, and feeling luxurious.
Celebrations aren’t easy at the moment. I cried in that tub, despaired in that tub, listened to the birds in that tub and I laughed in that tub. It brought me some healing, and allowed me space in our struggles to feel good, and it was a celebration for me and my family.
I think we are all having to be creative and find ways to love ourselves that don’t rely on meeting with other people, and that is HARD (even for an introvert like me). I hope that you are all able to find ways to celebrate and love yourselves, because you are totally, utterly worth it.