Last month, I wrote about my experience quitting smoking and why I decided to celebrate that accomplishment with friends. I didn’t expect the piece to receive so many responses, but many Lily readers told me what other unconventional milestones are worth celebrating. My Instagram DMs and email inbox were flooded with messages. It was heartwarming and surprising to see what strangers were willing to open up about all because I had shared my own.
I heard from people who were celebrating proud moments (like starting therapy), scary moments (like changing careers) and weighty moments (like deciding not to have kids). All are a cause for celebration in their own way. Because of all these responses, I’m feeling even more encouraged to continue to celebrate and share my personal milestones with friends, family and occasionally … the Internet. Below you’ll find more suggestions for celebrations. As always, I would love to hear what you’re celebrating at email@example.com or on Instagram.
Earlier this year, I celebrated unlocking Level 30 of doing life mostly by myself. In one instance, this looked like: bringing a 75-kilogram washing machine up to my 11th floor apartment, unpacking it, fitting it into an awkward corner in my apartment, installing all the pipes, nuts and bolts and getting it up and running without any water leaks or electrical shocks during the test run. I felt so overwhelmed and proud of myself and can verify that self-reliance is underrated. I’m also an immigrant who lives by herself, which is another reason the washing machine was such a huge deal to me.
— Sukriti Gupta, 30, Melbourne, Australia
I celebrate my freedom from the oppression of my marriage, which I was reminded of by continuing to use my married name after my divorce. My recovered name is Carol Akawie. I feel a lightness from the removal of bad memories and a celebration of myself.
— Carol Akawie, 70, California
I celebrate when I take care of my personal needs, like going to the gym three times per week. This is so huge for my mental health, so when I get it done, I’m proud of myself, and I feel physically and mentally better. Sometimes I give myself kudos for showering (I have a 3-year-old and a full-time job.).
— Elizabeth Carey Feola, 41, Virginia
Since I started meditating about a year ago, I have learned it is important to give yourself loving kindness and celebrate each moment you choose to be present and introspective — and hold that loving kindness even if you don’t get to fulfill your daily goal. Saying a simple “thank you” to oneself is always a great practice.
— Lily Selthofner, 19, Wisconsin
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just shy of 12 years ago. I have done something to mark it every year to honor the work I do daily to keep myself alive and healthy and to thank the people who help me do that. The “dinobetes” piñata was a particular favorite.
In recent years, I have started making an annual donation to organizations that support advancing access to insulin across the globe. As I celebrate my life, it keeps me hopeful to invest in making sure others can do the same. I really recommend it if you’re able.
— Chelsea Grayer, 32, Washington, D.C.
I am getting ready to celebrate my graduation from college in December as I am finishing this semester! This college endeavor has been in the works for 34 years, and it could only be done because I have a husband who is so supportive and encouraging! Without my teachers’ encouragement, belief in me and lessons, I would not be graduating and celebrating by drinking a jalapeño margarita! Salud! Cheers!
— Erika Brown, 59, California
I have always thought that young people starting out should be given “apartment showers.” When I was just out of college, I was invited to wedding showers for numerous friends, giving them things that I needed myself. I wondered why — because they would have two incomes, and I only had mine — no one thought that I might need the same things and help me out. Of course, I got plenty of “early parent/grandparent reject” items. But because SO many people are staying single longer, it seems that “‘apartment showers” should replace wedding showers.
— Karen Montgomery, 70, Pennsylvania
I love celebrating each tomato, zucchini and bell pepper I grow by making a fun (and tasty) meal out of it. Especially sharing it with my family.
— Mya Salawu, 19, Ontario, Canada.