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Last week as Melissa and I were working on some house projects, she stopped what she was doing and said “Hey! Your birthday is coming up. What do you want to do?”
I must admit. I’ve always loathed this question. It’s kind of like when someone asks what you’re doing on New Year’s Eve. I feel like I should have some magical, extravagant plans lest I be considered lame.
This time two years ago, we were just six weeks into the pandemic and getting together with friends and family was not an option.
I was forced to spend my birthday quietly.
And. I. Loved. It.
I had no idea how good it would feel to not be expected to have grand plans — or even any plans.
I also had no idea how much I wanted that.
The next year was similar — and that one was a BIG birthday. I thought for sure I’d be disappointed with not being able to have a major celebration, and instead, it was perfect.
My family and Melissa organized an outdoor gathering that was so enjoyable and full of ease.
It was so much better than my 40th birthday which was a shit show for a variety of reasons — one being those pesky expectations.
As cliche as it sounds, we really do get wiser and care less about what others think as we get older.
So this year, when Melissa asked me what I wanted to do, I felt certain and strong to say, “I don’t know. Maybe go for a hike. Maybe nap on the couch all day. Maybe I’ll decide when I wake up that morning.”
“Sounds good,” Melissa said, with a big smile.
Isn’t it funny, the stories we make up. Stories about what others expect of us. Stories about our worthiness, our capabilities, our appearance, our value, our potential.
And why are the stories rarely if ever positive or happy?
Maybe it’s time to clear some of this mental clutter.
A great place to start is to simply recognize where and when you’re doing it like the pandemic helped me to.
Do you not ask for help because you assume everyone is too busy?
Do you put everyone else’s needs before yours so you don’t appear selfish?
Maybe you numb out when you’re feeling sad, angry, or triggered so no one notices?
It’s exhausting, isn’t it?
Once you’ve identified where you do this, it’s time to say Enough! Reply in the comments below and tell me what b.s. you’re no longer willing to tolerate. What will you start (or stop!) doing because YOU want to? I think there’s real power in sharing it with someone, and I’ll be over here cheering you on.
As you read this, I’ll be off enjoying my birthday whether that’s in the form of a nap or a beach walk. It’ll be a surprise to all of us. 😊
Can’t wait to hear what “shoulds” you’ll be tossing.