I believe I have mentioned that I started graduate school for counseling before we left Texas. One of my favorite things to talk about in class was the way certain past experiences inform current behaviors and thoughts. Naturally, I began to examine my own life to see where certain views that I hold now might have originated from. Strangely the first one that popped into my head was my feelings towards my own birthday parties: I don’t like having large birthday parties or even low key birthday gatherings with several people. I told myself, for a long time, that I just didn’t need to be celebrated and didn’t like all the attention on me. However, that was dis proven last year when we spent my entire birthday going to commencements for Jason’s mom. Now don’t judge me, I wasn’t pouting or anything, but I sort of missed having a day planned with me in mind. So I began closer examination and one specific event kept coming to mind.
For birthday parties growing up, I got to invite the number of friends of the year I was turning. When I was 7, I could invite 7 friends (of course, if it hurt feelings or I couldn’t decide, my parents made exceptions). I am not sure exactly which year it was, but I remember I invited more than 10 friends for a picnic at my favorite park. I loved parties, admittedly I loved the fun and the celebration and the cookie cakes and therefore was quite excited about my picnic party. We arrived at the park a little early to set up. When 2 o’clock came around, 2 friends showed up and when it was time for cookie cake, no more had arrived. Being fairly self aware, I remember being confused why no one else had shown up. We only got 1 “no” rsvp. Then I became embarrassed, only 2 friends came and I could tell my parents were so sad for me. I immediately went into ‘party mode’ overdrive to ensure that my two guests still enjoyed their time. That was the last personally planned birthday party I had. Every year following I was happy to just celebrate with my family. Aside from 2 surprise parties that my wonderful friends planned for me in high school.
Since Jason and I have been together, I have been content to have low fun days or trips to local towns. This year was no exception. We spent the day eating fun food and visiting antique and thrift stores. It was a simple day full of time with my favorite person and visits to places we both enjoy. When the day was nearing its end I commented on how much fun I had had and how it was so nice to have no pressure. <–I think ‘pressure’ was the impetus for my perspective change on birthday parties. When I had parties, I felt a pressure to make sure everyone was having an amazing time (that was always easy when there were several friends), but when there were just the 3 of us, I felt immense pressure to make sure my party was still a “success” for those 2 friends.. I am sure I will have a large celebration when my next “big birthday” comes, but until then, I am content with the small days of laid back fun.
It is always so interesting to examine where your certain behaviors stem from. I think it is incredibly healthy to understand those behaviors, even if you decide to maintain them in the future. Understanding the thoughts behind certain behaviors is the foundation to becoming more self aware.