Self Matters: Welcome 2021 With Self-Celebration

    Billie Wade January 18, 2021

    We beam with gratitude when someone acknowledges our achievement and the work it took to get there. Accolades urge us to keep going, reach for the next level, step toward the next phase. These all are excellent unfolding goals. Often, though, we are perpetually propelled to keep achieving—nonstop. We get caught up in a pattern of skidding into one goal, then sprinting toward the next. hardly exhaling and inhaling in between. We run the risk of overwhelm and burnout. Our activities become boring or tedious chores rather than exciting and fulfilling endeavors. We miss the “scenery.” Then we may ask, “How did I get here?” The answer is self-celebration aka patting yourself on the back.

    What is Self-Celebration?

    Celebrating who we are, how much we have endured, what we have accomplished, and how much we have overcome can make a powerful difference in our life. Celebration sets in motion a variety of feelings as well as simple yet fun and often inexpensive activities anywhere we are, with or without anyone in our presence. Pause. Refresh. Reset. Integrate. Joy. Delight. Awe. Wonder. Giggles. Laughter. Grinning. Smirks. Amusement. Even eye rolling.

    My Experience of Self-Celebration

    Some years ago, I purchased an exquisite journal solely for its visual appeal: an elegant, stylized dragonfly on a multi-patterned background. The textured putty-colored cover lets the dragonfly blend in without hiding. It looks as though it naturally belongs there. Each page of the unique paper features a printed dragonfly in one corner, the lines perfect for brown ink. (If you have never tried brown ink, I highly recommend it.) I put it in a drawer with other journals waiting for the “right” theme, the special occasion befitting such a lovely book. On June 9, 2020 I wrote my first Dragonfly journal entry to dedicate it to celebrating the good in my life, including myself. I declared my dignity as a human being who is proud of her abilities, innate and learned. I stated my intention to write only the “good stuff.” All entries are positive words which proved a little tricky at first. It forced me to rethink how I defined my experiences. Each entry begins with a minimum of five Gifts of the Day. Think gratitude on steroids with friends.

    Be Your Number One Fan

    At the outset self-celebration may sound arrogant and unappreciative. After all, you may have learned at a young age bragging is bad thing, a very bad thing, so bad you could get “the look” or banished to your room. However, when you embark on a new endeavor which requires the approval of others, you receive a set of “have tos.” Sell yourself. Toot your own horn. Convince the elusive “them” why you are the best person for the job, class, position, etc. These cheerleader instructions fly in the face of cautions about bragging and arrogance. So, you scratch your head as you try to figure out what to do.

    You are a winning combination of skills, attributes, talents, abilities, and wisdom. Some abilities are innate, some are learned through deliberate study, some are acquired through experience—think of the wisdom and insight gained via education in the School of Life. Ironically, some of your most emotionally painful experiences contain the richest wisdom. You can give yourself as many accolades as you want, anytime, anywhere. You do not have to say a word out loud, but I encourage you to do so. Hearing a compliment directed at you in your own voice can be quite powerful. Record it on your phone and replay it whenever you need a boost.

    How can I feel good about myself and my achievements without sounding arrogant?

    Think about it: You are the ONLY person with you 24/7. You can celebrate yourself—you may wait a long time for others to do it. When sharing your good news invite others in by leading with your feelings, such as, “I have great news to share with you,” or “I am so happy. I can hardly wait to tell you…” or “I did it! I finally made it…” Share the spotlight if someone helped you. Consider the people you trust. You may need to share with different people in a revved up or subdued manner. If your sister is your number one fan, pour on the exuberance. If your neighbor frowns on everything you do, approach sharing the news with a little caution, if telling the person is necessary.

    Start Your Celebration With a Fun Journal

    I usually suggest that a fancy journal is not necessary. For self-celebration, however, I encourage getting a journal that makes you smile and want to snuggle or that makes you feel powerful. It does not matter whether you purchase your journal at a dollar store or at a bookstore in the mall. Or, if you are crafty, create a journal and embellish the cover and give your journal a name or title. The importance is in how the journal makes you feel each time you use it.

    Writing Exercise

    Prepare yourself for self-support and self-advocacy by just paying attention to what you enjoy and what you do well and what you have achieved. Think of self-celebration as a gift to yourself you can enjoy whether others join you or not. You may have to turn off the criticisms of others whether they are sitting in the same room or the voice of a memory.

    • Use your newly purchased or -created shiny enticing journal ONLY for the “good stuff.” Use your regular journal for working through experiences and exploring your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
    • Write a list of everything you do well or enjoy doing—from “I like the way I fold bath towels to I am an accomplished, respected astrophysicist with twenty years of experience. Be sure to number them so you get a clear picture of the magnitude of your achievements.
    • As you write each item, pause at least ten seconds—set a timer if necessary—before writing the next.
    • You do not need to write a full description or analysis. Just write enough description that you will have full recall when you reread the entry later.
    • In subsequent days, write at least one entry that expresses your Gifts of the Day, which is more powerful than “Things I am grateful for.”
    • Share your good news on social media or videoconferencing if you deem it appropriate.
    • Celebrate the same thing over and over if you want to—just a smile is a celebration, an affirmation, a statement of enjoyment, about yourself.

    Your unique quirkiness makes you who you are. You enrich the world and all you do. When you are joyful, you spread it to those around you and infuse your life with magnetic cheer. Joy is free. Joy is contagious. Joy is an expression of profound gratitude.

    We continually reach for meaning and fulfillment from the experiences in our lives. The achieving can sometimes overshadow the achievement. Caveat: When we take time to be mindful and appreciative of the journey to the destination, we invite meaning and fulfillment into the doing, which takes away the frenetic pace and sets us on a path of discovery as we achieve. In this respect, the journey is the goal as much as the destination. We do not have to be shy or embarrassed about who we are and what we do to live our life in fullness and contribute to the world in which we live, whatever that looks like for us. Achieve. Enjoy. Celebrate. Happy journaling.



    Billie Wade

    Author bio:My Logo

    Billie Wade, a lifelong journaler, believes people are precious, sacred, resilient, and stronger than they know. She created Journaling to Heal, LLC which helps people discover the power of writing in their process of recovery from emotional stress and trauma. Visit her at and find more of her writing on where she writes a monthly newsletter column for Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.