Birthdays are supposed to be good days; days that you look forward to and wish to celebrate. I liked my birthday a lot when I was a child. Everyone likes receiving presents, eating cake and celebrating with friends, right? I do too, or I used to, at the very least. However, my birthday has turned into a day of expectations. Birthdays are associated with happiness and celebration. Therefore, I have started associating birthdays with days on which one has to be happy. The problem, of course, is that I don’t always feel happy and I can’t ensure that I am happy on the 28th of August. In other words, I have created an expectation that I can’t always live up to and as a result, the idea of this day stresses me out. Additionally, the day is packed full of little triggers that are all linked to expectations.
Happy birthday wishes
My birthday is full of small little triggers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that people wish me a happy birthday (please continue doing so), but they are also a trigger. I feel like I need to feel happy in response to a happy birthday wish and often it doesn’t make me feel particularly much. Therefore, I feel like I am not ‘behaving’ properly, or ‘normal’ enough, which makes me feel bad. Imagine feeling this for the 40 or so happy birthday wishes that you get on a day. (Still, though, do wish me a happy birthday! I simply have to learn to cope better, this is not your fault.)
The same happens when I’m given any presents. Some people respond very enthusiastically when they receive a present. They give the giver what they’d hoped for; happiness in response to their presence so that they in response will also feel happy. I’m not a particularly enthusiastic person and I don’t know how to show incredible happiness or enthusiasm when I receive a gift, even if I love the gift. Likewise to the happy birthday wishes, I feel bad for perhaps looking seemingly ungrateful when I receive a gift. (Of course, if someone gives you a gift they shouldn’t expect anything, as a gift is free to give and shouldn’t have any conditions.)
The day I was born
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I struggle with living, sometimes. I struggle to accept life as it is all the time. Why was I born? Why do I have to live? Why should I celebrate the day of my birth when I’m not at all happy that I was born? The day on which I was born reminds me of my continuous struggle with life, even if I have been feeling fairly well recently. It can drop me in the cycle of thoughts that lead me to the well of depression. For example, it might also cause me to feel guilty for simply feeling this way, as I believe I should also be grateful for my life.
For several years, I have associated the 28th of August with something negative and this doesn’t help. I assume that the 28th will be a bad day because it has been in the previous year, and the year before, and the year before that. However, this isn’t true because I have had some nice birthdays and I should bring those to the foreground of my mind, rather than the less successful ones. At the same time, I also associate my birthday with the usual triggers, as I’m very aware that they are there. I know that it will be a tough day to get through, and sometimes I wish it was all a bit easier and less of a fight.
The things listed above cause me to feel a lot of pressure. My birthday isn’t simply a happy day, it has to be a happy day. Naturally, when something has to be a certain way, it is less likely to be that way. You can’t force things, that’s just not how it works.
But I don’t know how to deal with the pressure. I tell myself that it’s okay if I don’t feel happy when someone wishes me a happy birthday and so I don’t immediately break down when someone wishes me a happy birthday or gives me a present, but the day consists of so many little triggers that it is likely that one, eventually, will properly trigger a breakdown.
Part of the problem is that what I feel doesn’t match up with what I think I should feel. I need to accept that it’s okay to feel what I feel. A lot of people don’t care much about their birthday. Birthdays don’t have to be celebrated as special days and expectations don’t have to come with birthdays. A birthday can simply be a normal day.
Instead of seeing the 28th of August as my birthday, I should see it as a fun day on which I canoed and had some very tasty sushi (this year anyway). Perhaps next year it can be a day on which I simply read a book or go for lunch with a friend. I should change my birthday into a day on which I … (insert activity). That way it might eventually become a day to celebrate again.
Do you like your birthday and do you celebrate in a certain way? Or do you prefer to keep it as simply ‘a day’? Let me know in the comments below!