I average about one significant celebratory moment a year.
Now, do I celebrate the little seemingly non-significant celebratory moments? You bet, but in terms of my own big moments and milestones, I average about one a year.
2017- I graduated from college.
2018- I got married.
2019- We bought a house.
2020- I guess we will just have to wait and see.
The point isn’t to share how boring my life is. The point is to share that when my focus is narrowed to my own life, or even to my and my husband’s life, we live about 364 non-celebratory days a year.
But we don’t have to. Unfortunately, it took me about 25 years to learn this. It took me about 25 years to learn how to properly celebrate others. Not just show up for the wedding and drink the free booze celebrate, but genuinely, heart-filled, jovial appreciation celebrate these other people.
Nothing shifted on the surface. We are invited to about the same number of weddings every year. We are invited to go out to celebrate about the same amount of promotions, birthdays, you name it, every year.
However, below the surface, everything changed. All it took was a brief change of heart, a minor mindset shift, to make these relatively non-celebratory years, quite frankly difficult years, into big ones, full of celebrations, the type of celebrations that make you want to dance all night. Engagements, weddings, baby announcements, graduations, promotions, I was invited in, so why would I sit on the sidelines?
Or even worse, why would I seethe on the sidelines- compare their victory to my lack of?
No one wants to admit this part of them. Surely, you’ve never been jealous, Surely, you’ve never compared your friend’s life, your sibling’s life, your boyfriend’s cousin’s best friend’s life to your own. Surely, you’ve never pouted through someone else’s victory. Surely, you’ve never complained to your friend on the way to the celebration about just how terrible the person you are on your way to celebrate actually is.
Surely, you are perfect right?
Good for you. I am not- far from it, actually. I’m a full-on competitor- an enneagram 3 in all my sassy glory. If I’m not first, I’m last. If I’m not in a winning season, then screw everyone who is. That’s the achiever’s fatal flaw, the hamartia to spend our lives fighting against, particularly to be better at this mission of celebrating others.
But maybe that’s not just the side effect of being an achiever. Maybe that’s a side effect of our entire generation.
Culture really pits us against each other. We want our “team” to be superior in everything, because we want to be superior in everything, and superiority really leaves no room for celebrating those who are winning, because that makes them no longer inferior to us.
In a sense, I think egotism is our generation’s gravest sin. Shoutout to Facebook, Instagram, and social media as a whole for providing the ideal soil and environment for the growth of these nasty parts of us.
I think a million sins are housed under egotism’s ugly umbrella. Narcissism, jealously, bitterness, the list goes on. We see the other person’s celebration post, and sometimes our blood boils, and we start pushing toward our own next big moment, our own next big post, not because it’s fun to celebrate, but because we have to compete.
Suddenly, our narcissism is activated. We see the million congratulations, and we think, “hmm… should that, could that, don’t I deserve for that to be for me?”
Suddenly, our jealously is activated, and we stop (as my MIL says), “running our own race,” and instead begin to question how we might actually get into his or hers instead, because we sure like the look of that trophy.
And then, our bitterness is activated, perhaps the ugliest sin under this sinful umbrella, and we start thinking about this person and their success, and we compare our own lives, which, oh hey, there is narcissism again and he’s telling us that we’re better, and we start to question whether or not that person “deserves” this celebration, promotion, engagement, etc.
This isn’t you, right? This has never happened to you, right? Beautiful girl, this has been all of us, and the scary thing is, this entire ugly process, this giant ugly umbrella covers us, consumes us all in a matter of seconds. This whole dilemma takes place completely subconsciously.
We see other people’s accomplishments as a direct oppression to our own goals as if every other person in the world is a foil to our own lives, and therefore their success is our downfall.
It just takes a diligent shift of heart, shift of mind. It takes the determination to celebrate other’s wins the same way you would cerebrate your own, and then it takes doing it again and again until this ugly umbrella, this ugly part of us, is replaced by habitual joy. Joy for others, and joy in general.
I’m not there yet. I’m still slapping myself on the hand just about every time I get on social media. But I’m working on it, and I’m becoming better at pushing these undesirable parts of me aside to allow myself to celebrate: celebrate others without comparison, celebrate the victories of those around me even when it feels as though I am in my own losing season.
And believe it or not, when you make this shift, when you celebrate others without the nagging narcissism that we become so consumed in, it makes you happy. Happy for them, and just happy in general.
I think if we all learned to celebrate each other’s achievements like we do our own, celebrate other people’s big moments instead of just envying them, we could all be significantly happier.
Everyone is living this life, and this life is hard. But occasionally, we see this light, this thing that demands big, loud, joyful celebrations, so when that chance comes, we should grab it- grab it for ourselves, and grab it for others. No constraints, no comparison, no jealously, just celebration. Everyone deserves to be celebrated and everyone deserves to celebrate.
Life is too short, too boring, when you only know how to celebrate your own victories.