This brilliant idea that I'm about to share with you originally spawned out of the ugly depths of disappointment – a terrain just above the even more hideous lowlands of self-pity.
If I've learned anything in my 26 years, it is that life is full of irony, and for every low point in our existence, there is the potential of something good waiting on the other side.
This situation is no different.
Each year, with the onset of cooler temperatures came the awareness of my fast-approaching birthday, followed by an internal struggle of hoping for some sort of elaborate, grand day of celebration not unlike that which you see in movies, all the while trying to reign in my delusional expectations so as to avoid disappointment later on.
Perhaps at the root of my complex relationship with birthdays was the fact that my early-most recollection of mine happened to coincide with the first day of school in Ukraine. Talk about traumatizing a child!
Another culprit was that my very first birthday party didn't take place until I was 18 – something that I was totally okay with, until a well-meaning friend noted, "Oh, that is so sad!" which made me question the sincerity of my friends and family for waiting 18 years to throw me a birthday party.
Regardless, I would dream of the day being all about me. I'm fairly low-maintenance the rest of the year, I would think to myself, so surely one day devoted entirely to me isn't too much to ask for, right?
Clearly, I was setting myself up for disappointment – not because friends and family didn't go out of their way to show me love and affection, but because that love and affection didn't exactly match some sort of great vision of love and affection I had built up in my head.
In addition to that energy-draining struggle, I would inevitably start reflecting on what good I had done with my life the previous year, and frankly, the disappointment would grow exponentially as the day of doom approached.
On a side note, I never understood the stereotypical "I'm-getting-older" woes that women often cite as reasons for not wanting to celebrate the occasion. For me personally, birthdays became a time of vast disappointment – disappointment in myself for not having done anything of significance in the past year, disappointment in others for not meeting my unrealistic standards, which, of course, resulted in more disappointment in myself for being the kind of ungrateful monster that doesn't cherish the love and devotion of friends and family simply because it didn't come in the shape or form that I had envisioned in my head.
As years went by, it became more and more difficult to dig myself out of this vicious thought cycle – of which, might I add, I was completely and totally aware – so I began dreading birthdays altogether – until this year.
"The minute you start focusing on bettering others' lives instead of playing a victim of circumstances, your own life takes a drastic turn for the better," I would always preach at friends and family who would express disappointment over a recent life event and their inability to deal with it in a mentally and emotionally healthy way.
Again, the irony of my ever-ready advice is not lost on me.
So I started thinking.
What if instead of making the day all about me, I would help others by intentionally forcing kindness into the world?
God calls us to love others, and being intentional in living that out seems like a wonderful way to thank Him for 26 years of life, wouldn't you agree?
Thus came about the idea of birthday acts of kindness.
I am committing myself to 26 intentional acts of kindness throughout the month of September and hoping you'll help me celebrate by doing the same! The challenge is to go out of your way to do something nice for someone else. If you need an idea of where to start, how about helping my dear friends in their adoption journey?
Please, please, please feel free to share your own ideas as to what sort of good deeds we can all do, and be sure to come back and share your experiences with me throughout the month in the comment section below or on the FOXY OXIE Facebook page.
I'll be sure to report back in a month and also highlight some of the stories that you will hopefully share with me!