I had a birthday last week. And, like many people, I spent a moment reflecting on how much I had changed and where I wanted to go moving forward. But unlike so many of my birthdays, where I have typically booked a trip out of town somewhere, most likely recusing in the blue ridge mountains to watch the leaves change, I stayed in town. Instead I planned ahead to see some live music (three nights out to be exact! Parents of young kiddos might be amazed) and I made the decision that I was going to spend some time filling my creative cup and showing my face around town on my special week. While this might sound simple and not exactly breaking the mold of birthday celebrations it sparked an unexpected healing for me.
I realized that for so many years of booking birthday trips out of town away from friends and family I was attempting to protect myself from being under celebrated. I was taking the “burden” of celebrating my existence away from people so they didn’t have to worry about it. I was avoiding facing my fear of not being worthy of celebration, of being noticed, taking up extra space, or the ultimate worst fear; of being forgotten about completely. By taking a trip out of town I could step away from all of those icky fears and have a quiet, casual celebration of my very own where I could control just how much celebrating there would (or wouldn’t) be.
Wow. Bummer, right?? The truth reveals itself in sometimes soft and quiet ways. For me it was with an unexpected ping to the heart as I stood watching friends play music outside under a wildly bright full moon. I was having a great time on my birthday in a new way than recent years. I wasn’t hiding. I felt self-contained and confident, and that the celebration was within me. I felt the love of those who were around me, but my expectations for the world on my birthday had lightened up. Most importantly, I was feeling a growing sense of self-celebration that is new terrain for me as someone who has battled low self-worth since childhood. By not running away this year, I was making a choice to celebrate myself in the midst of my fears of being forgotten by others. I was standing in the middle of a field of insecurity and expectations that only birthdays can bring up, and while it used to take hold of me like a sinking mud, all of a sudden I just didn’t care anymore. I am ready to celebrate me.
How else has my fear of being overlooked affected other aspects of my life? In what ways was I keeping myself from my full artistry because of my fear of seeming “too much”? How many of us refrain from showing work because of our fear of not being celebrated? For so many creative people our fear of being “seen” and the belief that we don’t deserve recognition keeps us from thriving. By focusing only on celebrating myself this birthday, rather than how others might celebrate me, I felt an instant boost of creative energy that has given me a new sense of boundlessness; like I’ve cracked a secret code I didn’t realize was keeping me separated from my potential. Why would I care if someone doesn’t see me? I see myself, what inspires me, and the forever tantalizing mystery of my life unfolding. What else is there really?
Our artistry and creative potential is lovingly interwoven with our self-worth, and there are so many weird little ways in which we hold ourselves back. This is why personal growth and what we’re doing to address our inner world is so divinely important to our work as artists and creative spirits. I realized that again last week. Sometimes we don’t realize we’re stuck in an old sinking pattern until we make one seemingly tiny change. We decide to do something different on our birthday, or we wear sequins to our usual coffee hangout. It might mean expressing a part of yourself that you’re used to hiding. It might mean facing the fear of being “too much”. But instead of waiting for the world’s reaction, we can simply enjoy the rush that only comes from being vulnerable. We can celebrate ourselves every day, if only for the sheer curiosity of seeing what hidden world may unfold.
Happy birthday to me 👑💚