A few days ago, I got a job offer for a job I wanted for a very long time. Most of what I have done schooling wise and career wise had been to get me to a place where I could get this job.
And now I got it.
After years of hard work.
Yet, celebrating felt uncomfortable for me.
Looking back, I never really celebrated those milestones most people celebrate. It was more so people around me celebrating them for me.
I did not celebrate getting into university, or graduating, or getting my first job, I did not want a big engagement party, I did not celebrate my first car that I bought with my own money, I did not celebrate my community awards. Everyone around me celebrated for me, and somewhere along the way, I forgot to join them wholeheartedly.
Of course, I could analyze my childhood and look at why I react to milestones that way. There is probably a combination of things; between never doing anything good enough to make my parents happy and the constant fighting on holidays and celebrations – making me wish the day would end.
However, I also think some of this also comes from me, and the field of work I am in.
As social workers, we tend to see what no one else wants to; we work with the people most people ignore; we fight for the things no one wants to fight for.
When I think back to the things I have earned or gained in my life – those milestones – part of me feels the privilege that comes along with that, leading me to downplaying my successes. There is almost a guilt associated with the feeling of achieving something many others may not achieve.
I work with so many youth who may never graduate, may never get that dream job, who may never own their own car. I’ve also been a youth who thought those things of myself. I did not think I would get to where I am today, 15 years ago. And I know I still have further to go.
A possible last big piece of the puzzle, is that when something good happens, I am almost always conditioned to think that something bad must be following. That if I get too happy about something, I will be let down. The happiness will not last, so why go there in the first place? It is better to stay neutral.
But, is it?
Looking back, I have now realized that many of my happiest moments, I kept neutral and I will never experience them again. I had a chance to be extremely happy and celebrate – but I decided it was better to stay neutral. Did this stop the hard times in my life from happening? No. Did this change the fact that there are still people in the world who may have less? No. Did not celebrating, ultimately affect the privilege associated with my successes just because I did not announce it? No.
If you were to never have struggles in your life, you would never be able to appreciate the successes and high points.
But if you do not celebrate the high points, then, what’s the point of the lows?
You can’t always live your life worrying about what may happen. You can’t always live your life thinking about what other people may or may not have. You can always stay mindful and appreciative – but there will always be people who have less or who have more.
The privilege associated with my successes does not make me a bad social worker. It does not mean I care any less about the people I work with and that the world is not sometimes a sad place. My successes are what they are. A success. A milestone.
Something to be celebrated.
I GOT THE JOB! AND I BOUGHT MY VERY FIRST CAR!
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