“Everybody knows that they’re guilty Everybody knows that they’ve lied Everybody knows that they’re guilty Resting on their conscience eating their inside It’s freedom, I said it’s freedom time now.”
Lauryn Hill……she seeps clarity. Empathy. Compassion. Honesty. The other night in one of my many random hotel rooms of the year, I was sitting around listening to her over and over and over. I hadn’t listened to her in a while so when I finally snapped out of it, I was kind of sad. I tried going back into her zone, but it didn’t work. It isn’t that reality is so awful, but it’s really hard to truly escape it without being on a lot of drugs or using some other unhealthy denial method. That’s one of the things I respect about music because it can take you there. I love how she celebrates everything-all of the challenges, the triumphs, the lessons learned. She praises all of her experiences. We need to be doing more celebrating; that’s what all of the books say these days. I guess I try to believe in the books I read. It seems to me that hardly anyone can celebrate successfully. We suck at it; we have a long way to go with celebrating anything that is meaningful. I’m talking about celebrating the wins of our lives, about boasting just a little bit every now and then. Steinbeck once said, “The less you have, the more you are required to boast.” Regardless of background or socio-economic status, or any other label for that matter, celebrating shouldn’t feel like a mandate, but it also shouldn’t feel like a competition or cause guilt when we want to boast. I don’t know how I feel about Steinbeck’s perspective, but I do know that it’s one of those quotes I keep coming back to, and wandering through. For those of us that do have more, I would debate to the fullest extent that we suffer due to our lack of celebrating. Most of the time, when you ask an adult to celebrate something, they look at you with a crunched brow, and struggle to find any words. They really struggle. With schools I work with, this typically happens immediately after I’ve been in their classrooms, and can ramble off several celebrations that prove impact on students’ lives.Yet, when you survey those same adults, they crave constructive feedback. They crave knowing what they are doing well, and what they need to work on. We need to hear from others what we are doing well in our lives. Research supports this too; people want to hear about their accomplishments. But, can’t this come from ourselves just the same? What makes it so hard for us to talk about success? Is it the societal beast that we face that breeds our competitive natures, thus leading to us measuring our successes against each other? Is it that if or when we decide to celebrate, we feel we are being selfish? Is it the research that suggests when you celebrate, you risk the possibility of demeaning others?
I don’t have the answers, but I’ve been reading and learning more about authentic celebrating. There haven’t been many surprises except that when we celebrate, we need to speak to the data more. It can’t just be celebrating for the sake of celebrating such as a party. Those are good for the human soul, spirit, and collegiality; however, they aren’t meaningful when it comes to authentic celebrations of success. Another thing that keeps coming up is that recognition isn’t the same thing as celebrating. We can recognize someone for their efforts and hard work, but when we celebrate, it has to be tied to specific elements of impact on something important in our lives. Celebrations are successful data points or moments that are a result of effort. Sometimes though, people do sneak in some needed celebrating when they are talking to total strangers. It starts with casual conversation about what each person does or where each person has been, but innocently, this gives each person an avenue to discuss themselves. It allows them to celebrate their lives to a stranger who has invited them to do so. I don’t know if I’m suppose to sit next to the alligator hunters from Florida on the plane or not. I’m not sure why I get to experience them, and no one else does. Sometimes, I feel guilty about the conversations I get to have while others are stuck by the screaming children. I’m not against screaming children, but I’m sorry, the dudes with the alligator story beats them. Deep down, I want to believe a lot of people go into their bathrooms, and scream celebrations to themselves on a regular basis. Deep down, I want to believe this is what helps people get through life because in the end, they know that they are touching lives, and making a difference. It doesn’t have to be a private affair, and honestly, it shouldn’t be, but I’ll take my belief that it happens in bathrooms all across the globe rather than a reality painted with people never really knowing or understanding the good that they do. In the privacy of your own life, wear the Superman t-shirt under your clothes. Talk to yourself in the mirror whenever you get the chance. Discuss the amazing you with your pet. Dance because you love yourself. Do what it takes, but celebrate you, and when your comfortable, model it for others because the world needs to hear about more of the good stuff.