It was an email heading that popped in my email inbox just in time. Humanness is something we all forget to embrace at times as we use all our might to avoid any small element of discomfort in our lives. We bombard ourselves with distractions like blasting our car stereos, watching TV, surrounding ourselves with people nonstop, all in an attempt to keep us from addressing our internal feelings or thoughts that float up when we’re alone.
Sometimes the days that are supposed to be celebratory somehow become sad and confusing because we haven’t had a chance to fully embrace and reflect on them. Today marks my 51st birthday and, as I write this, I’m sitting alone with watery eyes for seemingly no apparent reason. As I’m finally allowing myself a chance to reflect on today, I realize that it’s not what I had hoped for on this beautiful and abundant birthday. I’ve realized that the human experience often includes attachments that morph into disappointments and then into tears when our expectations aren’t met.
In the early part of the morning, I had a fun and thoughtful breakfast with my daughter. By tonight, I’ll be celebrating my birthday with the man I love. There was so much to be grateful and excited about. Yet, as I write this with no one around, I feel unsettled. There’s no one to touch or smile at me. No noise to distract me. Absolutely no external attention, validation, or love at this moment to validate my worth.
It’s so easy to fall into this terrible habit of box-checking on our birthdays. We look back at some of the things we’ve accomplished, and that’s when we realize how much farther we have left to go. We become so distracted by an ongoing need, even an addiction, to entertainment that we haven’t given ourselves a chance to see ourselves for who we truly are in this moment. Even when life is good—because it certainly is for me right now!—I realize that it boils down to self-worth. If we haven’t reached certain goals on the timeframe we had originally planned, we suddenly feel like failures.
This is not fair to you!
We’re so used to focusing on what we have left to accomplish, we forget everything we’ve already done! As I write this and embrace my solitude, I’m gently reminding myself that I am enough. My achievements do not define me as a person, and my successes will never determine my self-worth.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the distractions of everyday life and the connections of people around us, but I urge you to spend some time alone on your birthday the way I’m doing. Celebrating is necessary and exciting for anyone’s birthday, but be sure to let yourself celebrate YOU too!
To be human is a painful yet beautiful privilege. There is no other more complex and confusing creature in the world than humans, and there is value in ALL that is YOU! The point of being human is to feel, cry, suffer, laugh, and love together. Not everything makes sense, but the point is that we’re all here figuring things out together.
The opportunity as a human is to learn a level of emotional agility. To observe it without judging it as good or bad. To feel it for what it is from moment to moment, an experience of the senses. The same way you might jump on a roller coaster for the adrenaline rush and floating stomach, there is nothing necessary about the ride except that the feelings that come with it provide an interesting experience.