For example, I attended neither my BA or MA graduation ceremonies. I did High School and that was enough. I tried to avoid having a conventional wedding shower, opting instead for something far more low key. And I vetoed having a baby shower.
Why? Simply because rites of passage always leave me feeling disappointed. I build them up too much. I have stupid internal conversations with myself about this, telling myself not to expect too much, only to still hold hope for some big life changing moment that will inevitably never be realized because honestly, how could it be in the context of what is traditional?
A rite of passage in our traditional modern context centers around people gathering, food, and gifts, none of which really encourage transformation or even necessarily much celebration of said transformation. I think, as I am about to write this, that I have fully become my mother's daughter, in that while I also want the hoopla that society has taught me to expect, more than anything I want the meaning back. I want less things and more stories. I want less consumerism and more thought.
I want less expectation and more appreciation.
And I want to remember to have the grace and open-heartedness to remember that from the people I love the most.
What do I mean by that?
Just this: that I can be moved to tears by the actions of people when I don't expect things from them, fully appreciating the kindness and thoughtfulness of their actions, the same actions that those nearest and dearest to me make all the time but that I don't see clearly because with friendship/family and familiarity comes the fact that I expect things and thus, take them for granted when I get them.
For example, the other day my coworkers hosted a baby shower for me. I walked out of my office and saw all that they did and almost burst into tears. Shh, don't tell them.
Why was I moved to tears? Because I walked out of my office to see tables set with flowers, a diaper cake, a full spread of food, a beautifully hand made sign, etc., and honestly I never expected so much from them. Ever. In fact, I was uncomfortable in some ways by how much had been done because I felt bad that we hadn't done as much for my male colleague when he had his son. I didn't know what to do with their generosity.
But here's the thing, I would never have had the same level of reaction if my friends had done the same. And that's just not right and bears some thought in terms of how I build up expectations towards others.
My reaction, up till now, has been to scrupulously avoid all rites of passage in order to avoid really dealing with this side of myself honestly. The kicker... is that I was recently reminded that in so doing, I deny the people nearest me the means of expressing their own joy and celebration over the big things happening in my life.
I really am a complex beast aren't I?
Suffice to say, my good friend V put me in my place and "demanded" that she be able to celebrate baby with me. In so doing, she gave me an unexpected gift, life lesson, and profound rite of passage that I had been looking for. I may never be a woman who wants to celebrate transitions in conventional ways and I may never fully find balance within my own reactions/actions in regards to my expectations and appreciation (though I am working on it), but I am also someone who is grateful for doing some of the fun traditions out there to celebrate the birth of baby GC.
|things you don't know about your body until you add henna: belly button is off-centered. who knew?|
So thank you V and work ladies who organized my work shower. Between the 3 of you, intentionally or not, you gave me an amazing rite of passage that forced me to grow, examine, and celebrate. I am truly grateful for the gift.