milestone events

Today I heard a friend of mine has forsaken the wedding planning she’s been stressing over for a number of months in favor of an elopement and casual party instead. Now that, my friends, is the way to fly. Keep it small, and keep it simple.

I realize that many people (women especially, perhaps) love big to-do’s with plenty of intricate details, large crowds, and heaps of attention lavished on them during an important milestone moment of their lives. Here are the events I can think of that relate:

Public honors at work
Wedding shower
Baby shower

Did I miss any important events that often are celebrated with large parties? If so, just tack them onto the end of that frightening list.

Just in case you’re curious, I stopped having birthday parties in middle school. The only ones since have been surprises and parties with a few birthdays being celebrated at once. I also abstained from graduation open houses for both high school and college.

It’s not that those events aren’t fun or don’t hold a lot of personal meaning. In fact, I’m very proud of my achievements and love reaching these momentous occasions in life. It’s just that thinking of being the woman of the hour gives me that tight knot in the pit of my stomach. I over-think, forget to relax, and simply don’t get the same thrill out of it all as most expect.

I haven’t figured out yet why those kinds of events make me uncomfortable. Why do I feel strange when at the center of attention? Why do I dread the idea of a 100+ guest wedding reception? What about having someone throw me a surprise 40th birthday party makes me embarrassed and shy? It might be guilt related. I might not think everyone wants to be there for the right reasons, or I feel bad that they’re spending all this time just on me when I can’t give them something in return. Sitting in the middle of 30 people opening gifts they’ve given me might excite my materialistic side, but the idea makes me blush and want to involve other people in the spotlight.

It’s not that I don’t want people around with whom to share my special moments. I love my family and friends and I know I enjoy feeling appreciated and loved just like everyone else. But putting on a production doesn’t flatter me; it just makes me anxious.

So if I had my way, I would do what my friend did: I would elope and enjoy a very intimate, special event with the people closest to me … and suffer as little stress and pomp as possible.