When I was eighteen, I got engaged. I was on holiday in England with my boyfriend (who lived there) who I had been in a long distance relationship with for about three and a half years.
What sparked this topic for me? Valentine’s Day was a few weeks ago and we’ve just waved bye to Christmas too. Being on any social media like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, I’m sure you seen at least one engagement, right? I’m very involved in Twitter especially so I seen a small number of the girls I follow, get engaged. However, what I also seen was some of these girls having to defend themselves and having judgement passed onto them about getting engaged close to on or Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day.
So why did I tell you that I was engaged at one point? I got engaged on my eighteenth birthday.
Birthday’s for me were always quite special and so they should be. Christmas and Valentine’s Day are on the whole, something that (almost) everyone celebrates together but your birthday is something that is special to you.
The engagement didn’t work out, we never got married. We broke up when I moved to England, and a few months later after finishing my first year at University, I came back to Belfast. I have never regretted not getting married and not going further with that relationship; we lasted for a little over six years with five and a half of those years being long distance. It was my first ever relationship, I didn’t know what I was doing right and wrong most of the time because it wasn’t a “normal” relationship. There were more things wrong with the relationship than right. Looking back, I was worried about coming home, not because I was sad that it had ended (because I wasn’t), I was more worried that I had build this vision up of myself that I got engaged so young and he was my first everything and we were the perfect couple. (My trait of being a perfectionist had ideally slid in from here I think). I had to come back with my tail between my legs essentially and explain to people that we weren’t together.
Ever since then, I didn’t enjoy my birthday as much. The first birthday that I had when we weren’t together was my 21st. Again, another big birthday for many and I had a different outlook on it. I wasn’t excited, I didn’t want a big fuss, I didn’t think I was worth fussing over; it was just a day to me now. That’s how it was every year after, until my birthday last year.
I wrote a short little blog post on it but that was my 25th birthday; my boyfriend at the time had gone all out for me to give me the greatest day ever and for the first time (ever), I didn’t think about that failed engagement. I didn’t think about how my life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would at eighteen. I was so overwhelmed with the amount of thought and effort that had gone into celebrating my birthday and making it special that I couldn’t feel or think of anything else but utter happiness.
For those that criticise others for getting engaged at Christmas, New Year’s or Valentine’s Day (for example), it’s no=one’s business when someone gets engaged apart from the two people in the relationship. If you think it’s cliche, fair enough but don’t push your view and your negativity on someone who is currently on cloud nine after just having an amazing moment happen, and quite a life changing one at that.
I’m not against anyone getting engaged on those days, not at all. Getting engaged is different for every couple, so Valentine’s Day might have an even bigger meaning for you than most. I know that for me personally, it’s not something I would like again. I have told friends and family, and I even told my ex-boyfriend that I don’t want to get engaged on days like that or my birthday again. It’s nothing against those that choose to do it on those occasions but I now have the understanding that not everything works out the way you want it to. I used to love my birthday and it just became a “day” to me for a few years, I just didn’t want the hassle and I didn’t think I was worth it. Some people don’t like their birthday at all and that’s fine, but that never used to be the case for me.
My point is, I understand it from both sides. Stepping away from the criticism for a minute; I’ve been there, I know how it feels to look back a few years down the line at a failed engagement and be disappointed. Not that I’m sad that we didn’t get married (because I’m very thankful that we didn’t in the end) but because I looked back on it on my birthday. A day that should be about me (It sounds selfish, but that’s essentially what your birthday is, right?) yet I thought about this momentous event that was dampening my birthday experience years later.
When you’re in that moment, it doesn’t matter what day it is. At the time, I didn’t think for one second how this could affect me in the future because I didn’t have anything to worry about. Maybe most people won’t but we have to understand that sometimes things don’t work out and that is perfectly fine. If everything worked out the way we wanted every single time, I would take a guess and say most of us would hate that, we wouldn’t be challenged and we would feel like life is far too easy. I’m just saying that doing this on a more celebrated occasion, it could be more likely to affect you if it doesn’t work out.
I’ll give you a really simple example; I don’t remember the day my ex-fiance and I broke up, but I do remember my most recent long term relationship break up because it was on a family member’s birthday. Chances are, when that birthday comes around, I’ll still think about that on that date whereas a few years down the line, if it had have been on a random day, I would probably forget the date altogether.
I hope from reading this that you can see there is another perspective of engagements and dates that you might not have heard before. Again, you do you, your engagement and the date it happens is special to you, I’m certainly not wanting to put a dampener on anyone’s happiness. I’m just sharing part of my story and how it affected me years down the line. Thank you for reading! ❤