Once again, another birthday looms over me. It happens every summer and I have had a range of experiences with my birthday. Kind of like that ominous cloud on the horizon – is it going to dump a lot of rain or will it just blow over?
I used to really dread the day. As a child, my parents would combine my birthday with my sister’s so that they could just have one big party. There was usually a clown or a magician, games, a bunch of kids, balloons, general chaos all over the house. As an introvert, these kinds of parties caused me some stress. I have never liked clowns or magicians; there’s something about their costumes, make-up, and tricks that makes me uncomfortable. I spent most of my birthday parties trying really hard not to be uncomfortable, but most of the time I ended up hiding out in a bathroom or in my bedroom wishing the party would just end. As an adult, my birthday still stresses me out. I could plan a great day filled with all of the things that I’d like to do, but nothing would go right or I’d just end up being let down. So, I stopped expecting so much, and still it disappointed and depressed me. Was I putting too much pressure on having a great birthday as an adult to make up for so many bad childhood ones? Maybe. Am I just high maintenance and cannot be made happy? Doubt it, but perhaps.
In the last few years I changed my perspective on birthdays. Instead of seeing it as an annual event marking my being one year older or another party, I starting seeing my birthday as a chance to reflect on my year and look forward to the next.
What did I plan to accomplish and did I get there? Did I visit a new town or city? Am I spending less time on social media? What am I going to do with the next year? Publish my book? Lose 5 pounds? Travel?
Since I started to look at birthdays this way, the anxiety leading up to and depression after my birthday disappeared almost immediately. I feel a little more accomplished, accountable for myself, less concerned with age, and more concerned with making sure I am doing what makes me happy as opposed to what I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing.
So happy 41 to me! Let’s see what this year brings and how many things I can accomplish in a year!