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I’m a funny, free-thinking girl who loves philosophy, disco dancing to 70′s music, going on spontaneous adventures, and living life to the fullest. I love dogs and have an inexplicable affection for elephants. I know who I am and I know what I want out of life.

The Birthday Blues

I find birthdays to be the most perplexing of all holidays. For starters, every person in the whole world was born. It seems counterintuitive that this is the accomplishment that we have universally chosen to celebrate. A baby has literally nothing to do with being born, and yet on the day designated for celebrating birth, they reap the rewards. All the while the unsung heroes: broken condoms and wine coolers, are failing to get the recognition that they deserve.

Then the next hurdle: not only must you have a birthday, but it must be happy. It is as integral a part of our culture as baseball and apple pie: Have a Happy Birthday! And just in case they thought that they could get away with having any other sort of birthday, we then accost them with reminders that their birthday must be happy. We plaster it on the walls, litter the heavens with emblazoned balloons, and assault that lucky someone with out of pitch singing. Perhaps you’re thinking: well, it should be no problem to be happy on your birthday- birthdays are inherently happy! But that is where I take issue. When you are little, you have no problem being happy on your birthday. Birthdays are wonderful, colorful celebrations filled with sugar, friends, and fun. That’s because when you are a little kid, the responsibility to create a happy birthday falls to the parents- the kid has nothing to worry about except blowing out all the candles and sticking some bows on their head for cliché photo-ops. At some point in every person’s life though, the responsibility of having a happy birthday shifts. Now the pressure is on. Unfortunately, the issue with a one-person holiday is that the rest of the world typically isn’t on board, and the concept of having a day to celebrate yourself can cause people to feel entitled. The result? I can’t believe I have to go to work on my birthday. I can’t believe I have to do the dishes on my birthday. Going out to dinner and whispering to the waitress: Just so you know- it’s my birthday (read: I want to be the center of attention and eat your food for free). So predictably enough, when people are forced to go about life as usual on their birthday, they feel jipped and are often more grumpy than happy.

Additionally as you get older birthdays are likely to become less blindly happy, and more confusing and stressful. Why? I blame society. Society expects you to have a happy birthday. In fact, it is almost unthinkable that someone should be anything but happy on their birthday. However, society also devalues you as you age. The result is that you are forced to plaster a smile on your face while silently mourning the gradual and ever-impending loss of your youth between bites of cake.

In closing, birthdays are not special in and of themselves: this one day a year is not magically going to be happy if the rest of your life is miserable. A birthday is at its essence, a celebration of your life. So while some people may see remembering to breathe for a year as a reason to celebrate, it seems to me that the best way to celebrate life is by really living, every day.

 

Happy lifeday!

 

K.

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21 Comments on “The Birthday Blues”

  1. neenergyobserver July 10, 2012 at 12:37 am #

    Well said, Ain’t it the the truth?

  2. kamellia73 July 10, 2012 at 1:38 am #

    Wonderful post!!! I never understood why my mother didn’t want to celebrate her birthdays…until I was a grown-up too. You have articulated it perfectly.

    • sorryiamnotsorry July 10, 2012 at 8:04 am #

      thank you so much!! I’m so glad you can relate! xx

      • kamellia73 July 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

        The burden of high expectations ruins so many holidays. Or maybe it’s the element of trying to recapture that feeling of being young and joyful and unjaded?

      • Alberto March 5, 2013 at 7:49 am #

        Gorgeous shots! Love the way you got Baby N. to look & smile right at the camera! Melts my heart! Big bro is such an angle with his baby brhteor. Love their interation.

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  3. Lauri Dabbieri July 10, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    I don’t celebrate my birthday. Never have since 21. You are absolutely correct in your observations, K.!

  4. jensine July 10, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    I like birthdays, it give me a chance to give people presents who won’t take them otherwise … an excuse really and on my birthday I love to have the day off and do as I please … late breakfast, wander around town and celebrate myself the way I want …but I don’t like too much fuss or the expectancies others have

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  5. redcactus July 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    I don’t like birthdays either. Never really have. But it has to be said that we never make a fuss out of it, just some cake and a small present. The only real tradition I have is to meet my two best friends since ages, we have run out of ideas for presents, but it’s always fun. 🙂

  6. WestEastern July 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    I honestly think that year when having a birthday becomes a burden starts sometime shortly after 21. I tried to be cute about it and called my 22nd birthday “The first anniversary of my 21st birthday,” but who was I kidding?

    • sorryiamnotsorry July 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

      hahaha, I think you’re right about that. I’m mean, 21 is the last year where being older yields a tangible benefit (i.e. alcohol).

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  7. Lorraine July 18, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    I’ve never been a big birthday person mostly because I’m somewhat terrified of getting older. Also, I HATE the birthday son. Specifically I hate being sang to. It makes me all blushy and uncomfortable.

    Lifedays are totally better. There is less singing.

    • sorryiamnotsorry July 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

      truth. Unless I end up sitting next to the crazy lady on the bus. She tends to sing to me regardless of the day.

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    Insightful, and in style!

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