Some days are always better than others. Some days hit you out of the blue with sudden bursts of energy and excitement. These could be birthdays, or just waking up on the right side of the bed. But on those mornings, I forget about my problems for a couple of hours because I have an agenda. I mark out those days on my calendar, like friends’ birthdays, family birthdays and even my birthday because I sometimes forget when it arrives. I compare these days to rains in a desert after a terribly long drought. If you’re somebody like me who has very strict routines then these couple of days in a year allow you to break free, do something spontaneous. But because I am the way I am even my spontaneity is planned, unfortunately.
The days I mark out on my calendar I plan well in advance, how free I will keep myself, what do I want to gift them and if not what will I make. I might make it seem like a natural outcome of things but I always ensure they go as planned. I know I can’t account for hiccups so I keep the plans flexible. I account for things to the last detail, from weather to fights breaking out, to how composed I’ll be, etc., etc. And before you say, “You should go with the flow.” You should know I have tried. That has left me more disappointed than planning those days in my mind. I can’t function without an outline, it messes with my head which compartmentalises everything. I have diaries particularly dedicated to plans, filled to the last page with lists, and you’ll find that everything on those lists is ticked off.
But, this year is different, it is completely unplanned and I have handed over the reigns of my life to fate. Believe me, it makes me sick to the pit of my stomach, but I have. Spontaneous celebrations have never been my thing, but now they are. I have discovered they have a charm of their own. Planned, organised fun isn’t truly fun if you really look at it. I wish I knew that earlier. Before, if things didn’t go as planned I’d seethe inside and let it eat me up whole. I hated letting go of things, of taking things as they come. But it’s impossible to plan everything.
I recently celebrated my Mum’s birthday, which took three days to celebrate properly. It was embarrassing really, considering I had a really good track record in the past. I was completely disoriented, I hadn’t baked the cake, I had not got her a gift and still haven’t by the way. It was a mess. For a while, I took it personally, which made me more irritable than usual. I channelled that irritability towards my Mum who obviously couldn’t do much and had to suffer through her own birthday. Just because I hadn’t planned it well enough I ruined it further. I still can’t get over it, it was supposed to be a birthday, she spent her birthday at the office and I spent it being angry at myself. Instead, if I had just woken up that morning and focussed on making it a good day for her instead of brooding over why I hadn’t planned it, I’d have saved so much trouble for myself. But that is water under the bridge now. I can’t do anything about it.
Of course, mistakes happen, people forget things but that’s just human nature. For the past couple of months, I have been apologetic for all the unplanned activities. I have been apologetic if I didn’t feel up to a trip or just to step outside. I have woken up with plans and cried because I couldn’t do anything I had planned. But the only times I saw some hope was when I did things completely out of the blue, like just stepping out to buy a coffee or go to a park, just like that for no rhyme or reason, no birthdays, no anniversaries, just because we had some free time. I think there doesn’t have to be a specific moment for celebration. You should celebrate the small victories too. It’s alright to plan some fun, because everything can’t be unplanned, just like everything can’t be planned.
It’s not even for feeling accomplished it’s about feeling content. If you’re surrounded by good people, who understand your limitations, every single day feels a little easier. You don’t have to pretend when you’re not in the mood for something that took months of planning, if they love you enough they’ll understand. It’s ok not to feel up to a celebration when others are up to it, it’s perfectly fine. I can remember so many times in the past where I just kept quiet and pretended to have fun because I didn’t want to ruin the mood. But genuine smiles are always better than fake ones. This doesn’t mean you don’t compromise, you have to do the same for them.
No one’s going to always be up for my plans, and I have to respect that. So now I buy gifts by instinct, sometimes I call my presence a gift on really bad days and I just ensure that on days that I do feel up to it I do something genuine keeping them in mind. Celebrations only work if everyone wants to celebrate with you. If they’re nice enough, every day can be a celebration.