Self-Celebration is Hard.
Not knowing how or who to be creates confusion...
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The older I get, the more I realize that self-celebration is hard for me. Something I do is play small as a defense mechanism to keep my heart safe. Other people see it as humility, but when I unpack it with myself, I see and know it's fear.
From childhood, I feel like I've been expected to shrink. To be quiet. To know my place. And I think I spent a lot of my young life lost because of that. Not knowing how or who to be created a lot of confusion in my life. I find myself, at 33, unlearning what it means to be seen.
Yesterday at an event I was moderating for HanaHana Beauty, a person in the audience asked how me and Abena (the founder of the brand) celebrate ourselves. I was stunned by the question because it'd been one I'd been asking myself for weeks.
The question for me felt exceedingly heavy and challenging to answer because I am not good at celebrating myself. It feels wrong. It feels uncomfortable. It feels like the minute I think about celebrating, whatever I feel good about will be snatched from me.
Learning to honor my wins, big and small, welcomes me back to gratitude, even when it's really, really hard. Even when I avoid it, self-celebration teaches me to acknowledge how far I've come and reminds me of my innate worthiness.
A few days ago, my team called me to break the news that my new book made the New York Times Best Sellers List. I was floored, happy, and shocked. I shared the news with my closest friends first, and they were all over the moon. I had difficulty mustering up the same joy after the initial shock, but I tried to remind myself to BE HERE NOW. This is good. This is beautiful. And also, my mind kept telling me THIS IS HARD. This is fleeting. You've got more work to do. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't seem to sit in the joy.
My husband has been reminding me that How We Heal making the list isn’t small. He keeps saying, "This is major. Celebrate yourself and your work."
And in all honesty, I haven't been able to.
I was deeply excited about reaching this career goal. I still am. I'm so grateful that after ten years of writing books, my hard work has landed me on a list that many authors will not see. In my heart, I know this is magnificent and celebratory. I've been trying to look at why this is hard for me, and then it hit me when I shared the news with a person that I wanted to be excited with and for me. Instead, they made me feel like it wasn't a big deal. Like it wasn't significant. That hurt me.
Immediately, I started shrinking myself and minimizing my joy even more. This is something I'm healing through.
I am learning to celebrate myself even if others can't.
I am learning not to discredit my journey.
I am learning to hold my joy and live in gratefulness even when uncomfortable.
I am learning to practice radical empathy with myself and others.
I am learning to sit with the goodness that greets me and not turn away.
I am worthy of good things and self-celebration.
Community Questions (leave a comment):
Finish this sentence: I am celebrating myself for…
Why (or why not) is self-celebration challenging for you?
Where has gratitude shown up, even in doubt?
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