Lesson Learned: Stop Waiting to Pop the Champagne

It all started with a rather fancy bottle of Veuve, gifted from a close friend to me on my 24th birthday. It was a very generous gift for a very ordinary occasion — one that I would not feel as cool about presenting given the same opportunity (especially at that age, but even now at 26, tbh).

Because of its relatively hefty price tag and its top-shelf quality (plus the fact that I’m not really a “champagne on its own” kind of gal — I’m privier to buying a $10 bottle of Korbel to add to my OJ for a shoddy booze-fueled brunch), I promised myself I would only pop its cork on an occasion worth celebrating. Which, at the time, included getting some type of a promotion or securing a new/better job, or finally finding a way out of California and into the ever-cool city of Austin, Texas.

Spoiler alert: I never got around to popping that bottle of Veuve.

The rest of that summer came and went without any noteworthy happenings, and then a slow fall and an even slower winter followed suit. Come spring, the bottle remained untouched on the bar cart, having gathered a liberal amount of dust from its poor, stagnant existence (which, now that we’re looking back fondly on the time, would have been an ideal surface to write “drink me” into with my index finger . . . *shakes fist at sky* what a missed opportunity). With how things in my life had been turning out, it was likely that the champagne’s desperately dusty state would remain for the unforeseeable future. But I still held on, hoping for the best.

Then I came home one Sunday from a quick trip to Los Angeles and noticed the bottle was missing. How long it was actually gone, I’m not entirely sure. But there was now an empty spot where it once sat, neglected and begging to be opened.

While I never was able to reach a truthful conclusion about what happened, I’m pretty certain my roommate at the time was sick of seeing it go untouched, so she drank it on one of the many weekends I left town. In the same year I spent side-glancing at it ashamedly, she was staring it down. And where I saw it as this looming symbol of my inability to obtain what I had naively believed would make me happy, she was looking at it for what it was — a damn-good bottle of champagne that was wasting away.

I like to imagine that when she finally gave in, she threw up her arms, yelled in frustration, and grabbed the orange-labeled bottle by the neck, popping the cork and finally doing what I wasn’t able to do: enjoy it.

As upset as I initially was (because let’s be honest, who at 24 has $50 they’re willing to spend on a bottle of champagne?!), part of me was relieved not to have to avoid its expectant presence any longer.

You see, I had given the Veuve a very specific level of importance — being able to sip on it meant that I had arrived at a particular place of success, which in turn would mean I was finally happy. But as I was unable to reach those self-assigned milestones, the champagne couldn’t live up to the expectation that I had for it, and it eventually became a sad reminder of everything on my list I couldn’t achieve.

It was a complete waste of a good thing that should have just been enjoyed for what it was and what it was gifted to me for. Which brings me to the whole point of this post:

Stop postponing your happiness.

Don’t wait to enjoy something if you can enjoy it right now. Why keep putting off the happiness you’re hoping to procure one day if you can feel it today?

A friend and I were talking recently about this idea of postponing joy — of believing that we’ll be happy when we achieve or do X, Y, and Z. But how when we actually do good on accomplishing those things, the happiness isn’t as momentous as we’ve made it out to be. The feelings that accompany those milestones we deem “big” often aren’t as satisfying as we had expected, or they don’t last as long as we assume they will. So off we go, searching for something newer and bigger to help put off the happiness we should be aiming to feel now. And the cycle continues.

What a freaking sad way to exist! And I’m all-too guilty of living this way (y’all remember that bottle of Veuve I was talking about!?).

The reality of it is, happiness isn’t a guaranteed permanent fixture in our lives. We’re likely going to deal with our fair share of hardships that knock us on our ass and have us struggling to get back up. So we need to remember to give ourselves a break every now and then and allow ourselves to feel happiness in all its big, bombastic forms and its simplest, most-basic ones too.

So next time you’re contemplating the “right occasion” to debut the cute new top that you look fire in, remember this post. And know that the right occasion is a damn walk around the block. Oh, and the PTO you’re saving for some future trip that you haven’t put any extra through into — take a me-day or two, you’ve certainly earned them! And the bottle of expensive champagne your friend so kindly gifted to you on your birthday — it’s your birthday girl, DRINK IT.

Stop postponing your happiness. Stop waiting to pop the champagne.


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