Celebrations are good. They mark a moment. We gather with our community, whether it’s a more private, intimate setting or widens with a circle of friends and neighbors. I do not want to minimize how significant the sharing of celebrations can be. Yet it’s important to remember the milestones in our lives are not dependent on them.
It seems like a “duh” statement. I mean, we all know big moments are big moments whether we share them or not, right? But do we feel pressure that many milestones—big and small—require a grand gesture? When grand becomes the norm, how grand is it? How much pressure do we put on ourselves and others? Are we establishing unhealthy expectations or distorted communication if we equate important moments with grand gestures and big announcements and one-of-a-kind expressions? Do we set up ourselves and others for let downs that are more concocted than actual?
I know many people will read this and respond, “Well, that’s ridiculous. Of course, everything doesn’t need to be big or shared.” But there is pressure; if you don’t feel it, good for you. A lot of people feel the pressure or obligation or simply want or expect grand gestures. The proposal needs to be special. The gender reveal needs to be special. The birthday celebration or baby shower needs to be themed, color-schemed, and back-dropped for photo ops.
A friend posted on social media recently: “It’s possible to have a great marriage without a custom hashtag for the wedding. It’s also possible to have a child without a reveal party and exploding cannons of blue or pink confetti in your suburban backyard. Your life is a life, not a basic girl Instagram story.”
Perhaps a bit sassy, but the point is important.
If you want to script, pose, filter, and edit your story, you can. Choosing those options will cost you, but it might be a price you’re willing to pay. But be aware of the pressure it might put on those around you. Your spouse, kids, and friends might feel the pressure, even if they don’t verbalize it. You might get a good picture out of it, but a healthy relationship? I’m not saying it’s impossible to have both, but there’s definitely some dysfunctional erosion that comes from the expectations of grand gestures and evaluted celebrations.
If you ask someone, “How did he propose?” or “How did you find out the gender?” or “What are you doing for your decade birthday?” and the answer is “We discussed it and decided together” or “It was private” or “Keeping it simple,” check your response. Gauge where they are. They might be content and even thrilled that something was private and simple. Your response of “That’s disappointing” or “Didn’t you want…?” or sharing a grand gesture story that minimizes their own experiences isn’t appropriate. And if you live with someone who has different expectations and comfort levels than you? Be respectful. Listen and try to understand a different perspective. And if you are trying to help someone you care about celebrate a milestone, whether it’s planning, hosting, or attending, make it less about what you want and expect and more about what will comfort, acknowledge, and respect him or her.
We can be different. We can have different priorities. And we can still find ways to communicate well and celebrate together well.