When was the last time you saw a toddler, so pleased with themselves for doing something new? Sometimes they will do it over and over again, amazed at what they have accomplished. Other times they want to show others, to see the response in their eyes. And I love it when they clap at themselves: “Yeah, me!”

A few weeks ago, I acted like a toddler. I was completely surprised that I won something. I never win things personally. And earlier that week, my sailing team had won a BIG trophy we didn’t think we were going to get. So when I won something at a party, I was thrilled: two completely unexpected wins in one week! I walked up to get my prize (a Louis Armstrong CD)  and I said, “I have won so much this week!” I didn’t think about it, I just blurted it out.

Now, if a toddler said that, it would be cute. But from a grown woman, it came across as obnoxious. People immediately teased me about my lack of humility. 

I’m not sure how I could have celebrated in the moment that would not have been perceived as obnoxious. Think about the mixed reaction to NFL players dancing in the end zone. As adults, we are supposed to be modest and humble. 

Why can’t we celebrate our successes, our growth, as adults? Why can’t we revel in that joyous excitement of exploring new ideas, new places, new things, new abilities? When was the last time you had toddler-like excitement? When you jumped up? When you said, “Yes!” with a pumped fist? When you couldn’t help yourself from letting out a thrilled reaction?

Two of us celebrating an auction win. No bowing here! Spinsheet/Wilbur Keyworth Photo.

There was a comedian who made a joke about how he would rather be a gymnast than an actor. When a gymnast finishes their routine, they stand and put their arms up. Actors bow down. I agree. I want to finish like a gymnast – facing the audience, arms up high!

When we can celebrate our achievements, milestones, accomplishments, and these feelings, it makes it easier to proactively put ourselves in the growth zone. When we allow ourselves to feel those endorphins, that is one of the rewards for challenging ourselves to grow.  We can fuel our growth zone by tapping into our toddler-like joy.

With my close friends, I can share this story, and tell them how amazing it felt to nail this thing, and I don’t sound obnoxious. I can make my gymnast pose, or do a little dance step, and they can cheer me on.

We need more celebration of succeeding at new things – no matter how old we are. Find your people who can help you celebrate, and give yourself a fist pump, or a gymnast pose, or a “Yes!” You deserve it.