There are only a few things we celebrate as adults, and most of them have something to do with either birth or marriage – neither of which we have sole control over. Those things are exciting and notable and life-changing and absolutely worth celebrating, no doubt. But there are countless other fantastic things worth acknowledging as well. It’s not to say you should throw a $50K celebration over getting through the work week, but that there is more to life worth being happy about, and celebrating with friends even, than just what society has deemed so.
1. Promotions. It’s more than a new job, it’s a step up on the ladder, one that you worked your ass off for. Getting promoted at work is the acknowledgment that you’re not only someone seen as suitable to lead, but that you’ve proven yourself and your commitment to a company and you deserve to revel in that pride.
2. Raises. It doesn’t have to be a change of job, but even just a small raise, or becoming salaried when you were once hourly, is important. Financial stability, however that looks for you, is crucial to a life well lived, and there’s no reason to not celebrate working hard and being able to live more comfortably because of that.
3. Friendship anniversaries. Relationships come and go. I don’t know about you, but I have never celebrated a five or even 10 year anniversary with a significant other, but I absolutely have, and will, with my best friends. It’s ridiculous that we don’t celebrate the relationships in our lives that we already have, the ones that are life-long and decidedly forever.
4. Sobriety. When people say they’ve quit drinking, or that they’re “X days/months/years sober,” it’s often met with judgment for either having once been addicted or not “being fun and wanting to go out and drink anymore.” Regardless, the stigmas are false and unwarranted. We should acknowledge the will-power it takes to refrain from alcohol or drugs or whatever it is you no longer want in your body, in spite of what people have and will say.
5. The completion of a project. Often it’s the only light at the end of the tunnel. Hard work is only celebrated in our culture as it equates to monetary success, but that isn’t the most important part of achievement.
6. The end of a chapter. You could be leaving a city or a home or a habit, whatever it is, commemorate appropriately. Maybe we wouldn’t get so caught up in the stress of change if we started seeing it as a good thing, a thing that will better us, a thing that is worth acknowledging formally.
7. Traveling and returning home safely. Sure, you can have going away and coming home parties, but those are usually reserved for people who move somewhere far for a significant period of time. I’m not saying throw a party for when you come home from vacation, but if you’re taking time to travel, especially by yourself, you deserve to come home to a dinner table of family and friends who want to hear about everything.
8. Overcoming a lifelong struggle, even just for now. The thing about “lifelong struggles” is that they’re ingrained somewhere deeply within us, they’re difficult to shake. If you’re able to, even for a small amount of time, rejoice in that. Forget about forever. Appreciate what you’ve done and make it a point to commemorate it appropriately.
9. Quitting a job. We can’t all be Marina Shifrins, but we can all pop the champagne over finally being out from under that awful boss’ dictatorship.
10. Finding a new job. We get so caught up in the scramble of signing the paperwork and re-adjusting our lives that we forget how exciting it is to be starting a whole new experience. The truth is that our jobs do comprise a huge part of our lives, they’re what we do day-in-and-day-out. Changing them changes us in a huge way.
11. A breakup. Half of getting over heartbreak is realizing that people leaving and entering our lives is inherently neither good nor bad, just a changing of experiences. The closing of one door so another can open. We all look back eventually and are most grateful some (most) of those relationships didn’t work out.
12. Job anniversaries. Whether you’re celebrating surviving for so long or being happily employed, it’s a time worth noting.
13. The days your life changes forever. The only way I can think to put this to you is like this: when I graduated college, I had a party, I received a degree, we celebrated with dinners out with extended family and gifts and the whole nine yards. But graduating school wasn’t the day that changed my life. It wasn’t a day that changed me at all, I was just done taking classes and living in a particular area. I never acknowledged the days that actually changed me, the days I had breakthroughs, the day I finished writing my book. The days that actually mattered in my heart.
14. Resisting the urge to stalk your ex on social media for the umpteenth trillionth time. I believe this can stand alone.
15. Getting over someone. Ask anyone: it’s a feat to get over some really great loves. They require us to change ourselves and shift our lives to accommodate their absence, and I’ve found that that’s often the point of them leaving. Regardless: it’s tiring and draining and very sad until one day it’s not, and if getting past the so-called love of your life leaving you isn’t an accomplishment, I don’t know what is.
16. Being happy. In my opinion, it’s one of the rarest things in the world.
17. Getting through the day. We fall victim to routine. We get lost in the nuances of daily life and become so drained by the hours we spend staring at a screen and feeling exhausted that we lose sight of wanting to celebrate for celebrations’ sake. I always call my friend(s) and say let’s go out and get drinks because the week’s over. Sometimes it’s the only way to get through the week. Most times, it just serves to remind us that we don’t need a reason to be celebrating life.