It’s not so much that bad things happen, it’s just that when the good things happen but there’s no one to celebrate you. (TW: mental health issues, suicide)
I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. I’ve been single for the better part of 7 years. I’m 33, so I was single during that time when everyone was getting married. I was also struggling with depression, and it took the better part of those 7 years to finally find a treatment plan that worked (I was in and out of hospital, multiple suicide attempts). Very few people know about my depression, I’m one of those people who when others find out that I have a mood disorder, they’re shocked (since I’m high functioning). During those 7 years, I was also in a severe car accident (I was a pedestrian, hit by a car that went through a stop sign) and still have post-concussive symptoms.
However, also during those 7 years I got my master’s degree in engineering, started a PhD, quit a PhD because the funding was cancelled and immediately then embarked on a job as a first-year college physics teacher - essentially my dream job. I’m fortunate in that sense - my scrappiness has always allowed me to do well career wise, and I basically have a super sweet deal in my teacher job - the pay and benefits are good, we get a ton of vacation, my colleagues are great and I love my students (even though they drive me crazy sometimes).
But, because I’m single, there’s no one to plan these celebrations. I’ve realized over the last 10 years or so that as we get older, celebrations of “you” are usually spearheaded by significant others, and rarely friends. The only time it seems that celebrations are organised by friends are showers - wedding and baby. No one offered to throw me a graduation party (well, my mother did, but she promptly forgot about me when my sister-in-law announced she was pregnant - I wasn’t surprised. Also, since I didn’t want the type of party she wanted (i.e. where she lives, a 10-hour drive away from where I live) where she could basically bask in my accomplishment and take credit for it and be the centre of attention, I doubt it would have happened anyway). No one offered to throw me a 30th birthday party, even though I almost died 6 months before, and was still convalescing. People asked me if I was going to throw a party, and no one offered to help me plan it.
.And you know what? That makes me sad.
Yes, there’s always the “Throw your own party!” chorus with these types of complaint, but you know what happens when you throw your own party? Usually, you can’t enjoy that party because you’re busy hosting. And that sucks. And yes, I’ve asked people to plan things for me, but nothing ever come of it. It makes me feel like I don’t matter to people, that I’m unimportant. It also doesn’t help with the suicidal ideation that I suffer from.
I remember when all my friends were having their weddings and feeling incredibly resentful of all the attention and gifts they were getting. Most of my friends were professionals, living with their partners for multiple years, so they everything they needed and basically the wedding gifts were an upgrade to their lifestyle. I, on the other hand, was “student-broke”, and will be for the next several years as I pay off student loans. This fact usually doesn’t bother me - I made the choice to go back to school. But it just felt so UNFAIR (yes, I’m going to use that word like a 5-year-old) that people were showered with gifts and attention for having found a partner, and no one was willing to do the same for me.
That being said, I look back on that time now and I’m much gentler with myself about how I felt, because it’s totally normal for someone who’s been through all that to feel resentful in that kind of situation. It’s gotten easier with the years, and as people have babies and life hits them smack in the face, there’s a feeling of relief a bit. It’s not schadenfreude because I don’t take pleasure in it, but that many of these people finally got a dose of how life can be really really hard.
All that to say, I wish we celebrated people more for their accomplishment, you know? And that people didn’t assume that your family will throw the party if you don’t have a significant other. Sometimes, you just want to feel like those wins you get in life are worth celebrating by other people, because YOU’RE worth celebrating. Regardless of wether or not you have a partner or a supportive family.
Thanks for reading my rambling. I’ve had a long week, since a colleague is away on sick leave and I’m working at a 150% workload covering his classes and my own. I’m feeling extra sensitive because my friends know I’ve been having a hard time, but no one’s offered to help me out (even though I’ve asked). It’s really disheartening.