It’s taken me four entire months to get this post out! And warning: I may sound like a spoiled brat.
I’ve always been a fan of holidays and birthdays and celebrations – you know me, Life IS the Party. But somehow, someway, I married someone who could take or leave special occasions. Over the years, I’ve had to make a case for why I needed to receive greeting cards on my birthday, and why we needed to hide Easter eggs, and carry myself to Home Depot to find a fix to put up Christmas lights given that we don’t have an exterior outlet. Each and every special occasion represents yet another opportunity to celebrate…especially, ahem, my birthday.
Hubby, however, is a Celebration Minimalist (yes, I just made that up), and considers each day to be a blessing and therefore, a birthday or anniversary or holiday is just another day in his book.
However did we find each other?
I’ve come to get used to his nonchalance and I’ve appointed myself Chief Party Officer when it comes to planning parties for the kids and sending Mother’s Day cards to our parents and making restaurant reservations for our anniversary dinners. Where I still haven’t been able to properly manage my expectations is the realm of my own birthday. Each year I have this irrational hope that he’ll surprise me with something (anything) and it won’t be up to me to make plans to mark the day. It’s a real mess of a situation. Here’s how it generally goes:
1. My anxiety builds in anticipation that he will (or won’t) plan something.
2. Then, I drop not-so-subtle hints that plans BETTER be in the works.
3. Finally, the day comes and my (unrealistic) expectations are shot when nothing happens.
For my 30th birthday, I decided to take my own destiny by the horns and plan a bang-up celebration. It was brilliant! A cooking party with a personal chef and 8 of my close friends – it was just delightful. Fast forward 6 years and I’ve totally fallen back into my pattern of expecting ‘someone else’ to come up with birthday plans for me…and ‘they’ haven’t. This year, ALL I wanted was to: (1) put my toes in the sand (and yes, 45mins East to the Chesapeake Bay would have been fine); and (2) eat lobster. The July day came and went and nada. Nilch. I was devastated. What made matters worse was the half-baked attempt to make the day special. Maybe it’s because I’m getting old but it took me a good month to get over the disappointment. I was crushed.
In August, I got an email from a good friend listing the schedule of events for her birthday. She had planned everything over the course of a week or so, from brunch to dancing. Soon after, another good girlfriend reminded me that her birthday month was coming up in September and that she celebrates herself for the entire 4 weeks. It finally dawned on me: if I wanted my birthday to be a certain way, I was going to have to plan it myself. And, more importantly, I was going to have to stop expecting any different and continually setting myself up for disappointment.
In my brand strategy consulting business, I always coach clients to be intentional with their goals and plans – otherwise they won’t happen. And yet, here I was, not applying my own advice to my personal life. From here on out, my birthday is my domain (as it should be!) and my celebration will be intentional. Starting with me on a beach. With a big ol’ steamed lobster.
And a cake.