Why you should celebrate milestones

In a week, it’ll be my fifth year anniversary of dating. We’d both actually forgot about it because of our busy schedules, and I’d suddenly remembered it while thinking about other events. I suppose it was inevitable that it became less and less significant; we had been celebrating less every year. When I told my friend that we had forgotten about it, he didn’t seem surprised. Milestones just become less significant over time, like birthdays — right?

I used to think that milestones were just some kind of superficial way to spend an arbitrary date. Whenever I’d see someone post lavish pictures of some commemorative event, I’d think to myself that they can’t possibly keep that kind of silly thing going. My celebrations were always just a nice dinner, and then whatever convenient event is around the time. But really, it could have just been any other day. As my friend said, celebrating an anniversary is like saying “yay, we’re still together!”

I asked my boyfriend if he felt that milestones become less important over time, and he agreed. Something seemed different today when I heard this, as if I didn’t feel as sure as I once was. I thought about birthdays and the origin of it all. If I recall, it was from a time when illness and extreme circumstances made reaching a 10th birthday an amazing feat in itself. It made it easier to cherish a life when we realize that at any time, something could take it away. Today, many of us have comfortable lives and healthcare that make it much easier to live healthy and long-lasting lives. Many of us don’t care to celebrate these milestones because of how relatively easy it is to reach it. Then at the age of 80, life becomes precious again because we think that every breath could be the last.

Every breath could be our last, regardless of age. I used to think of birthdays as some kind of tradition that I had to uphold because everyone was doing it, and eventually I just couldn’t be bothered. I devalued my life by thinking like that. My age was just a number, another excuse to throw myself into a ton of social planning. Celebration meant eating, drinking, music, and talking, things I didn’t care much for. I was thinking of celebration all wrong. It’s the best way to appreciate something meaningful.

It could be possible to appreciate something without a celebration, such as silently whispering birthday wishes to ourselves. We could sit there and think about all of the accomplishments we have overcome on our own — who are we kidding? How could we think that we’ve done everything on our own? Think back on the birthday example, did we make it to every birthday alone? Time doesn’t just pass and then you’re awarded with another year! It’d take a month for a human to die without food, and only 10 days without water. A split second of bad fortune to die. The reason why we are here today is not a matter of your own decisions but everything and everyone around you. When you appreciate these parts of life with other people, that is what celebration is. If we think of it this way, we’ve been celebrating birthdays all wrong. The person with the birthday should be giving back to their family and/or friends.

I’d like to take a minute to go back to the topic of anniversaries. A relationship, no matter how long it’s been, can still fall apart at any moment. It might be unnecessary to go out every time and spend hundreds of dollars every year for the occasion, but we can’t let ourselves depreciate the effort that has been invested by both parties. It’s a time to reflect on the relationship, appreciate each other, to think about how both of you have grown, and to look forward to overcoming more challenges in the future. It doesn’t matter if the couple ends up sitting at home eating microwaved meals, as long as you always make the time for each other.

Just like birthdays, a relationship is also one of those things that involves more people than we think. Family, friends, career, and other life circumstances created the opportunity to nourish the relationship you may have today. We should always take the time to thank not just your partner, but everyone else who’s helped you two become the relationship you are today.

So celebrate every year, or whenever you can. Cherish your life, your loved ones, and your relationships day after day, year after year.

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