I turned 50 on April 12th, but an uninvited guest crashed my party: COVID-19. While I wouldn’t have asked for a pandemic to disrupt my birthday, it gave me gifts I couldn’t have anticipated.
Pre-COVID, my husband Bill and I had planned to spend my 50th in Puerto Rico. We love it there and thought it would be fun to celebrate my first half-century with a group of friends. I wasn’t alone. In January and February, I began seeing social media posts from high school peers who were plotting trips to Mexico or other lavish events. Hey, we are Gen X, turning the Big 5-0 and we’re gonna do it in style!
Then the Corona Virus brought the world to a screeching halt.
Puerto Rico was out. Parties were put on hold. My ordinarily jam-packed travel schedule for Ironstone was grounded. “Normal” life was going to be anything but, which reminded me of that wise quote, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”
So, how did I mark the occasion?
Bill knows how much I love flowers and gave me a beautiful bouquet. He made a fabulous dinner. A friend brought over an item that was super-scarce in April, but definitely “priceless” during a national lockdown: toilet paper! I did a Zoom call with friends, which was goofy and funny and unique, to say the least (what happens on Zoom, stays on Zoom). Okay, I wasn’t sitting on a beach in Puerto Rico. You could say the day was simple, even uneventful. But I loved it!
You see, I’ve always been the kind of person who wants experiences, not “stuff.” But I realized that turning 50 has given me other unexpected gifts, as well.
Recently, I was talking to a former co-worker who said, “We’re both extroverts.” And I replied, “Well, actually, I think I’m becoming an introvert.” She laughed, “You can’t be an introvert. That’s not ‘you’!” I explained, “You know what? I may have been a hard-core extrovert in the past, but now? I like the woods. I like hanging out with Bill. I like baking. And I’m more fulfilled now than I ever was before.”
Thanks to my “Corona 50,” I rediscovered the beauty of the “little” things in life, which it turns out, are actually the “big” things, when all is said and done (looking at you, Charmin). I discovered it’s okay to be by myself, in our back yard, on an ATV, by a campfire. I discovered that I’m a “situational extrovert”: I like being with people, just not all the time. Giving myself permission to be my authentic self is one of the greatest gifts I can offer the world – and my Ironstone clients. Because knowing who we are is how we can bring our best selves to work every day.
That’s why, I may not have gotten the 50th birthday I planned. But I got the 50th birthday I will never forget.