Some Confessions

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 15

I am a celebrator. I love to celebrate the small moments as well as the milestones, achievements, beginnings, and endings. I am also a firm believer in making sure to celebrate these aspects of life for myself. That is, I make sure to put plans into place to celebrate my own upcoming milestones or achievements. Confession #1. I often mark an important occasion by getting myself a gift, making sure I have a physical reminder of that significant event. For example, when I earned my second bachelor’s degree, I knew that no one was going to put up some big fanfare since I had already graduated from college before. But, it was important to me. So rather than wait for someone to do something to celebrate my second degree, and then have that not happen, I bought myself a beautiful watch I had been eyeing up for a year. Similarly, when I learned the good news that I was cancer-free following surgery, complications from surgery, follow-up treatment, complications from follow-up treatment, and a gazillion scans and tests, I bought myself an “I-kicked-cancer’s-ass” ring; I wear that ring almost every day with deep gratitude for my health. Among these moments in life I find important to mark, birthdays rank up there. Including my own birthday. Confession #2.

You see, I used to pride myself in being this person that didn’t need to do much for my birthday. Growing up, I don’t remember my birthday being much of an event. It seems like the day has come and gone with little to-do about it. As I grew into an adult and then have been together with Tony, we’d maybe go out to dinner and have his delicious homemade apple pie (I’m a birthday pie kinda gal, not birthday cake). But that was about it and that was enough. After all, for the majority of the time we have been together, we were poor graduate students. So not making a big deal of my birthday was fine. But really, if I’m truly honest, it isn’t fine. Having my birthday be like every other day on the calendar (except for that amazing pie) ISN’T fine. Confession #3. After all these years, I can be truthful and say that not doing much for my birthday leaves me feeling deflated and disappointed. Confession #4. And then, having those deflated and disappointed feelings makes me feel really guilty and shitty. Like I shouldn’t be feeling deflated and disappointed, and I should get over it. Confession #5. And then, hiding those deflated and disappointed and guilty and shitty feelings makes me feel ashamed. Confession #6.

Admitting all this and sharing it here so publicly is hard. I feel a bit selfish in saying that my birthday matters to me. I feel a bit needy in sharing that I want other people to celebrate me and my day. But…it is true. Confession #7. And the truth is liberating. Now, with all this truth-telling, don’t think that I’ve thrown out my old habits. I have, for sure, made plans to celebrate my birthday. After all, it’s a milestone birthday and I can’t quite leave it open to too much disappointment. My gift to myself is attending an art retreat where I’ll take a painting class that I’m super excited (and scared!) for. I’ve also planned an actual birthday party for which I made and snail-mailed real invitations adorned with my photography. And then, there’s a BIG trip planned in June with Tony to really do the birthday celebration justice. So yeah, I’m still working to temper any disappointment or feelings of deflation by putting all this in to motion. But, I’m also allowing space for those I love to celebrate me, too. And more importantly, I’m fessin’ up that my birthday matters to me. I think that is the real gift of growing older — being myself, my true self, with the honest wishes of my heart being released into the world.

This Polaroid of the spring tulips is also a gift to me — both in the awesome new film from the Impossible Project and the capturing of these quintessential April flowers. What about you? Does your birthday matter to you? Do you want others to celebrate you?

15 Responses

  1. Lindsey says:

    Bravo for saying this … I feel the same way, though I also realize that my birthday is, almost always, a sad day for me. I make a big deal of everyone else’s birthdays, especially those of my kids, and I always thought one of the reasons for that was the way my own birthday seemed a bit of an afterthought my whole childhood.

  2. Marcie says:

    Love your openness and honesty here. So much of it resonates with me. Happy..happy birthday to you!!!

  3. Corinna says:

    YAY! I believe in celebrating birthdays for the whole month – season – YEAR (especially if its a milestone birthday)! You are doing this particular birthday, and yourself, a great justice. Get here and let’s celebrate!

  4. urban muser says:

    happy birthday, ENJOY the retreat!
    i love this photo so much. i’ve had bad luck shooting with my sx-70, you are inspiring me to try again.

  5. annie says:

    I love birthdays! The way I see it, we only go ’round once. Make every day a celebration. Meghan, you rock, sister.

  6. Gretta D. says:

    Birthdays – tough to gauge how we are “suppose” to feel about them. I am enjoying birthdays with my kids! Too bad you will not be in MD – you could share Quinn’s pool party πŸ™‚ Its Cars themed would that be ok? — At least you got some goodies from home not so long ago! πŸ™‚

  7. alison says:

    Happy happy birthday! I definitely feel the same way. Wanting celebration, wanting it to be about me and then feeling guilty about it. But, dang it, you freaking deserve it! Hell, we all deserve it! So, live it up, lovely. Paint your gorgeous heart out and celebrate amazing, fabulous, intelligent, and beautiful you.

  8. Brava! This is so cool, Meghan. What a wonderful way to celebrate.

    I felt the same way for a long time, and finally got that if I wanted others to celebrate my birthday, I had to be very clear about what I really wanted. So for the big 5-0 last summer, there was a trip that meant a lot to me, and a writer’s retreat just for me… in many ways, the whole year has been a way to celebrate. This may just be the first year for a party – in over forty years.

    I’ll think of you.

  9. mosey (kim) says:

    Yet another (few) reasons to admire you and be inspired. I had no idea you were a cancer survivor. Happiest of birthdays, lovely camp sister. x

  10. Rebecca says:

    Yes, you *should* be celebrated! And birthday, most definitely yes. I’ve realized that no one is going to force a birthday celebration on me as an adult–so if it’s going to be fun, I had better plan it. It sounds like you’ve got that part down this year. No shame, no guilt, all FUN and celebration!!!

  11. Jennifer politi says:

    i admire that you are willing to put this out there, Meghan. I already hit that milestone and my favorite part was a nap. But if I am honest, I had some regrets that I didn’t do something more fabulous. But I am all for the year long celebration and appreciate the permission to want to do something big. BTW, I admire that you always allow yourself to be so honest and open on your blog. It’s hard!!! Happy early birthday!!!!

  12. Oh yes, I was the one when I hit my 20’s that my birthday was a big deal damn it and a whole month is what i needed/wanted and it was like that through my 30’s until i had kids and then it got pushed to the side but i’m reclaiming it for myself if for no one else. I can celebrate myself and being born – i’m not waiting around for everyone else πŸ™‚ So I applaud you whole heartedly and love that you are putting it out there! happiest of birthdays to you dear friend and i can’t wait to see you when i see you! much love to you this week at your retreat! xxxxooo

  13. Melissa says:

    Oh wow do I relate to this! A December 27th birthday means that the day is always an after-thought and most of the time even I’m too tired to properly celebrate it. I’ve had a lot of birthdays where I go to bed early, feeling disappointed that the day was another washout and ashamed of myself for being so “childish”. I think your confessions are brave and inspiring and your decision to celebrate the heck out of your birthday is an awesome one. People have told me for years to celebrate my birthday in the summer on an honorary day, and you’ve inspired me to do just that!

  14. Misty says:

    That is actually my house in the background! Yay for #lnk!

  15. […] birthday. Whatever it may be, Tony never likes to do much to celebrate. I, on the other hand, am a celebrator. I think it is important to mark both the milestones and the small victories as we travel through […]

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