I have been a hopeless romantic since I can remember. The way that a lover of food salivates at the thought of their next meal, I craved the moment that I would find my next relationship and promised myself that this time, it would be the one. I was ready, and from what I believed, I had always been ready.
After a string of lovers and one failure after another, I took it all back. I didn’t want love anymore. It was all too painful and I couldn’t bear it, so I did what I knew best at the time: I re-framed my belief system and decided that what I wanted, didn’t exist. I became a cold, weary, and pessimistic version of myself, replacing someone open and vulnerable (but with exceedingly high expectations) with someone who didn’t care for love at all.
My world was black and white. The love I wanted either existed or didn’t. I was either falling flat on my face over and over again trying to hold on to it, or I was stone cold, incapable of letting anyone in. It could be the Scorpio in me that loves to vacillate from one end of the pendulum to the next, but it could also be my stubborn attitude in recognizing that maybe the kind of love I craved wasn’t healthy.
In a similar fashion to how I pursued love, I was also someone who never overdid birthday parties or days like New Year’s Eve, Canada Day, or Halloween, but I did have expectations for them. I can’t take all the credit for curating what these experiences were “supposed to look like”, but I will admit that I bought into what I had been told to want from them. That is until once again, my expectations were not met and I decided that I hated holidays and refused to take part in them altogether. I would sit at home with a cup of tea and a book in hand and judge all the fools that posted photos all over social media. I snickered at their naïvety, proclaiming that they would soon learn what I did. They were simply late to the game.
I shuffled in this manner for more of my life than I’d like to admit. Switching from one extreme to the next. Feeling disappointment after disappointment and then doing the work to shift my understanding of the ways in which this world works. My belief system was distorted and I found myself in this endless stream of panic.
I’ve been recently more inclined to re-evaluate this way of life (and it’s about time that I did!) Though I try my best to veer away from the word “balance,” because it’s often used to minimize women when posed with questions such as: How do you balance a career and your relationship? Or, How do you balance your success while also having to take care of your children? Questions that are never posed towards men.
We’re all juggling things as best as we can and the way that you truly “achieve balance” is by shifting your priorities to match the situation you are in and then shifting them again for the next. It’s a cycle of evaluating and then re-evaluating what you need to focus on at any given moment, rather than giving all of your time and energy to everything and everyone in your life at once.
Going back, I understand that although it’s very crucial to have standards, we can never expect completion through a human being just as we can’t expect a day created by society to uphold this ideal of perfection. What matters most is the mindset we go into these experiences with, whether that be love, a new hobby, or a holiday.
So the mindset I have decided that works best for all of these is one of celebration.
We all know how difficult things can get. Everything can feel uncertain and nothing is ever truly in our control. We can look at this tragically and plead the victim, or we can choose to celebrate every milestone, holiday, birthday, and experience we have.
We can celebrate moments we feel good about our bodies or the attempts we make at learning something new. We can celebrate a day we feel more connected to our partner or the first words you write down inside of a blank notebook. We can celebrate the day we were brought into this world and we can celebrate the ending of a book that left us wanting more.
With celebration, we are going in with the mindset that this life is important and we can come together and make joy of it, whatever that looks like. Expectation-wise, we’re not holding a day or person in our custody, asking from life the certainty it can never promise us. But we can create joyous moments, we can join our loved ones and collectively choose to enjoy a day together just by spending it with one another.
We should be celebrating everything we can, because every “small” accomplishment, every realization, every moment of clarity, every positive experience, is something to be grateful for. And no, that doesn’t mean you have to even celebrate with people. You can celebrate your life in any way you want, but I encourage you to start celebrating it often.