Over the last couple of weeks I’ve spent a fair amount of time reflecting about life. If you would have asked me at age 25 if I thought that turning 30 would be life-changing, I would have told you that it wouldn’t. I would have told you that age is just a number and that life is more than that. But now, as I look out at the multitude of possibilities on the horizon, I would disagree with my former self. While age is just a number, it is also so much more than that. Will 30 be life changing? Yes. It will. Not because of the number, but because of what it symbolizes. A fresh start. New opportunities. The timing just happened to work out well.
I’ve decided to start putting myself out there more. Step outside of my comfort zones and in turn experience life more fully. I want to do things that make me nervous. I can only grow from these experiences, and chances are, they aren’t actually as scary as I seem to think they are.
I never used to think that it made sense to do things for myself. I really always believed that if I had special people in my life, that they would love and cherish me enough to do special things for me. To some extent it was true. But why did I wait for other people to do things for me?
Why didn’t I love myself and cherish myself enough to take the steps and do the things for myself that I wanted?
I don’t know…Maybe because I didn’t cherish myself in the first place.
Why did I sit on the sidelines waiting for good things to happen to me?
I don’t know…I just always thought that’s how life happened.
Was I not worthy?
I didn’t think I was.
With such a milestone birthday right around the corner, I tried to decide what I should do. Should I go out on a limb and plan my own birthday party? I had waffled back and forth about it, self doubt filling every attempt to make progress.
Did I deserve it?
What if people thought it was dumb that I planned my own party?
What if they were all laughing at me behind my back?
Is this more stress than it’s worth?
But what really scared me was: Would anyone show up? Did anyone really care about me enough to make it a priority?
I talked it over with my parents and they told me that they would watch my daughter. They urged me to do it. I still wasn’t certain.
I confided my reservations to my counselor. Her response was “Why not? Do you have someone else that is planning a party for you already?” My response made me sad. No. I don’t. I don’t have a special someone to plan a party for me.
I talked to one of my best friends who was extremely encouraging. He even said he’d help me with everything.All signs were screaming at me that I should do it.
I think in the past I’d always hoped that The Ex would take that initiative, but he never did. Not once in our 10 years together did he do or plan something special for my birthday. My counselor was right – If nobody else was going to do it, I would need to do it for myself. Otherwise I will be sitting home alone wallowing in self pity about how nobody cares, and that is not the direction I want my life to go. If I want my life to move in a new direction, I need to move it there! Yes, even if it makes me nervous to put myself out there.
One night, after my daughter was in bed, I tentatively sent out an evite to my friends. Knowing that I was scheduling it over Labor Day weekend, on short notice, I figured very few would actually be able to come. I was fully prepared to be embarrassed and bummed come Sunday when nobody showed up.
As Saturday drew near, I’d had more conversations with my friend – he offered to help me prepare, offered use of beach/camping chairs and coolers. Another friend volunteered firewood. Another offered to help in anyway she could. While I knew I had great friends, I guess I never fully realized that they care just as much about me as I do about them.
Saturday was filled with the bustle of pre-party grocery shopping, prepping food for the next day, buying ice and paper plates. We had a great time planning the party, which was just as fun as having the party in the first place! When Sunday arrived, I actually started to get pretty excited! My friend headed to the beach with me where we set up for the afternoon, and slowly but surely, people began arriving. And then more people. And then even more!! As each person arrived, I felt more and more loved. People did care about me. People didn’t think it was dumb that I planned my own party. Nobody was laughing at me. Everyone was genuinely happy and ready to celebrate. What was I so worried about?
We grilled and laughed. Kids played. I felt my toes in the sand. We celebrated with our beach neighbors and made new friends for the day. We danced and were silly. It was wonderful and lovely and everything I had hoped it would be! The sunset was gorgeous. The water, perfect. But most of all, I smiled and laughed and was able to truly enjoy my friends. I can honestly say that for one entire afternoon/evening I was not concerned, stressed or upset about the divorce drama. There were no tears and no loneliness. I was surrounded by love and friendship, and for that, I will always remember my 30th birthday.
It wasn’t until the next day that I had an opportunity to open the cards people brought with them. As I sat alone in my living room reading the kind words they had written, tears streaming down my face, I realized that while I don’t have “that someone special”, I have a whole group of someone specials. My friends. They do care about me. They do wish happiness and good things for me. Shame on me for not giving them enough credit. I had let my insecurities overshadow what wonderful people I have in my life.
So, here I sit, eternally grateful for their love and kindness. And of course – for showing up for me at a time when I needed them most.