Is your Wedding Day the best day of your life? An exploration...

Lisa Simpson Marriage

I have a lot to say on this subject so I will be breaking it up into multiple parts

Part I

A few years ago, a friend was upset with me when I was not able to attend her wedding. She was so upset that she stopped speaking with me and eventually told me that she had decided to give up on our friendship. She felt that I showed her that our friendship didn’t matter to me when I decided to not attend her wedding, as this was supposed to be “the best day of her life.”

I was surprised to hear that because:

  1. I do not share that same opinion

  2. I didn’t know it would be such a big deal, and

  3. I wasn’t expecting such a drastic response

I didn’t realize that a friendship could be terminated over not attending a wedding, so this got me thinking – is your wedding day really supposed to be the best day of your life? Why do so many people, particularly women, have this belief? And what are my views on it? 

Where I am from, which is probably like most places in the US, having a lavish, over the top wedding has become a show of status and wealth. I feel like people are trying to outdo each other and there is something about it that doesn’t sit well with me.

The number of destination weddings requiring you to travel to fancy far off places, spend a lot of money, and take days off of work for something that isn’t of your choosing just baffles me.

You’re asking me to use my vacation days and extra hard earned money to go to a place that I didn’t choose, and do a bunch of events and activities that I didn’t agree to do, for you? We are all adults now and I choose to do what I want.

None of it feels authentic to me and to be extremely honest, it feels like a meaningless display of pretense. What are people trying to prove? This is a special event for you and your husband-to-be and your close families to celebrate your love for each other, why are you asking people to travel across the world to a place where you don’t even live to do this?

Another element of this that makes me uncomfortable is when you put a lot of pressure on an event to live up to something huge - aka the best day of your life.

I have had multiple experiences in my life where I have big expectations for a certain day or event, and then it just doesn’t measure up and I am left feeling really disappointed.

For me these were things like: graduation, getting into and attending my dream school (Stanford) – this was a huge let down, getting into the sorority I wanted, my first job after college, or having sex, none of these things ended up being that great and they left me feeling low, so I shifted my perspective.

I have realized that things that I don’t make a big deal about, but instead simply enjoy and appreciate the moment, end up being some of my best days.  Like: meeting a new friend, going on a hike with them and then having a lovely glass of wine and conversation. Or a normal day that ends up being amazing because you slept well, wake up feeling good, have a delicious cup of coffee, go on a nice walk and read a good book - I have chosen to enjoy savoring the simple things.

To me, these big events are so done up and seem to be a bigger source of stress and anxiety than enjoyment, and I guess I don’t put that day or even romantic relationships on as huge a pedestal as it seems that most other women do.

In Part II I am going to dive into the history of marriages/wedding ceremonies and explore the feminist perspective on these topics.. Stay tuned!

The Recovery Diaries: Self-Acceptance

Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance – what does that actually look like? And how do you get there? I’m no expert on any of these things but I think it’s an ever-evolving process that we are constantly working on as we go through life. We will continue to have situations that show up that we have to work through regarding how we feel about ourselves. It might be dealing with something that has come up around how we perceive ourselves or how others perceive us, or ways we behave in a relationship or tendencies we have – the possibilities are endless because there are so many layers to self-acceptance.

The self-acceptance I am going to be talking about here is the one that frees us from beating ourselves up over things that we cannot change about ourselves, and instead helps us embrace all the parts that make us who we are. Stopping the fight and criticism of ourselves and deciding to let it go because there truly is nothing wrong with us.

I know this sounds vague, so the easiest way for me to explain is to give an example from my life and hope this helps you identify similar tendencies in yourself. Then you can apply this to your situation and work on releasing it as I am working on doing this as well.

Self-Acceptance

So here it goes:

For as long as I can remember I have been a small person. When I was in elementary school and you had to line up according to height I was usually the first person in line. When someone would say we need the short people in the front, everyone would immediately say – “where’s Lili?”

I didn’t think much of it when I was young, I simply accepted it as the way it was, and went on with my life. I was short, my mom was short, my grandma was short, and that was that. It wasn’t until I started getting older that so much started to become attached to it. One of the biggest things this created was being perceived as younger than I actually was, which resulted in people treating me like a child, and wanting to take care of me.

I started to feel insecure and bad about this, and would blame myself for it. If anyone ever told me they thought I was younger – my first thoughts would be: What was I doing that was making people think I was younger? What was I doing wrong? Was I not acting assertive or mature? Did I act like a child? Why did I have to be so child like?? All of this started snowballing into me believing that there was something wrong with me.

I had a college professor and a boss both tell me that I was smart but I would have an uphill battle being taken seriously in the professional world because I was a petite woman. They suggested that I should practice behaving and speaking more authoritatively.

I remember when my college professor pulled me aside and told me that, I felt ashamed and angry with myself. I hated myself for being short and for not speaking in a more scholarly way or something.

It didn’t cross my mind that MAYBE some of these things were simply out of my control. These were things that were part of who I was and what made me unique.

I turned 30 this year and this story has still been triggering for me. Something happened just last week around this that made me feel uncomfortable.  

But then I had a moment of awareness where I stopped and questioned it, and I thought to myself – why am I blaming myself for this? Why am I making this a bad thing?

I know that I am a responsible, competent woman who gets her things done, and just because I am perceived as younger, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It is neither good or bad, it just is what it is, and beating myself up about it is unnecessary.

My body, my height, my voice, my spirit – they are doing nothing wrong. I am doing nothing wrong. This is simply who I am, and if I happen to have a lighter, youthful energy then I am just going to accept it as what it is.

If there are things about yourself that make you insecure, stop and think about them and ask yourself if there is actually anything bad about them? Is there really something wrong with it or is just that you think there’s something wrong or because people make you feel weird about it but it’s actually not good or bad, it just is what it is? If that’s the case let’s release it, we don’t need to be carrying around that negativity anymore.

So yeah – I am short, and will always be small, and might always look more like a child than a commanding voluptuous woman, and you know what I am learning to accept it. I’m done with criticizing and picking myself apart. It’s time for some loving self-acceptance and to start believing that there is nothing wrong with me - and I hope you start working on doing the same too.

You Don't Always Have to Be Nice

You Don’t Always Have to Be Nice

I recently had a very insightful moment with my therapist. I was talking to her about an annoying situation I had found myself in that I wished I didn’t have to deal with. It was something silly but it made me uncomfortable and the root of what was bothering me was that I didn’t want to seem rude or unpleasant to someone.

I was telling her my concerns and going down a list of what if this happened or what if that happened, and how I didn’t want to hurt their feelings but I wished this wasn’t even a situation in my life.

Then she said, “you have done nothing wrong so you have nothing to feel guilty about, and if you’re not interested, you’re not interested. Lili, you don’t always have to be nice.”

That was a huge lightbulb moment for me: I don’t always have to be nice. When she said it I realized that it was a box I was always putting myself in and it was exhausting. She continued on to explain that it doesn’t mean I am impolite or hurtful, but that I don’t have to be overly nice to people — I can be neutral and I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. I can simply say — I’m not interested, thank you. Or a simple: No.

You Don’t Always Have to Be Nice

I know this sounds like common sense but many people, ESPECIALLY women, have been conditioned to be people pleasers. We are afraid of letting someone else down at the expense of doing what is best for us. Or God forbid we come off as selfish, assertive, or having a strong opinion – women have been so trained to be agreeable, sweet, quiet, and putting others needs before our own.

I will admit it, throughout my life I have been a people pleaser. I am sensitive and I would take it personally if someone didn’t like me. Where do you think the perfectionism came from?

I wanted everyone to like me, not have one bad thing to say about me, and think I was important. And where did that leave me? Depressed with an eating disorder.

Trying to be sweet and nice to everyone has put me in many situations that I didn’t want to be in. I would force myself to do things that I knew intuitively I would rather not do. I didn’t know how to say no or was afraid of seeming rude or difficult, and then I would find myself wishing I was never tangled up in that situation to begin with.

Why do we sometimes think NO isn’t an option when it is 50% of the option – there is the yes option or the no option – and we should start giving the no option just as much weight as the yes. They are both equally valid.

As I get older and move into the new year, I am going to continue to work on releasing these habits of being a people pleaser and always being nice if it isn’t authentic. I am making it a priority to develop strength in setting boundaries, learning to simply say no, and stick up for myself and my needs. All of these practices are incredibly powerful and help you get to know and trust yourself better — because what matters most to me is that I like me.  

We shouldn’t be wasting any of our precious personal time doing something we don’t want to be doing because we are afraid of coming off rude or unpleasant in some way. Having the strength to simply say — No thank you — and not worry about having to be nice all the time will save us a lot of energy to do things we want to do and show ourselves the ultimate kindness and care.