Today is my 26th birthday. I spent it like how I spent any other weekend – I woke up late, had a leisurely lunch, listened to music and basically slacked off. With everyone at work, I knew I would be spending it alone. The day passed by uneventfully, save for a slow trickling stream of birthday wishes from friends, ex-classmates and colleagues on Facebook and Whatsapp. People either remember your birthday or they don’t, and 80% of the people who wish you “Happy birthday” are prompted by the Facebook reminder below the activity ticker.
I don’t know how to feel about turning a year older. People say you become more sure of who you are as you get older. If I was supposed to feel any different, I didn’t. I’ve crossed the 18 and 21 year milestones and the next big one is 30 which is a mere 4 years away. Time is flying by too fast for my liking and it’s scary.
Birthdays were decidedly more fun growing up. What’s not to love about being surrounded by family and loved ones, and receiving and opening presents on your special day? You got to make a wish and blow out candles on a cake. The cake came in your favourite flavour and the best part was licking the icing off your fingers. I miss the feeling and excitement of those childhood days; the warm glow in the pit of my stomach, the food, the fact that everyone was there to celebrate the day I came into this world. Birthdays are a curious thing. I look forward to them but when they finally arrive I’m underwhelmed. But this is life right? This is how things are now. They have become just another day now, one out of many other days in the year. These days they’re more like gatherings where everyone catches up for 2 hours before going back to their own lives. It’s hard to muster up the enthusiasm at yet another meal where we talk about the same things. I always leave such gatherings feeling weary and unsatisfied. The same goes for family celebrations where the following tradition has been established – we eat food bought from the zhi char stall from the next block followed by the obligatory cake-cutting ceremony. I love my family and friends and I appreciate the thought but it’s so… boring.
I recently read a quote about birthdays from an article on This Recording:
“Birthdays are the most depressing time of the year because you never get what you want and you never give anyone what they want, but everyone still expects you to lead them in pleasing you and for you to be pleased by their efforts; when you aren’t happy on your birthday, everyone else feels inadequate.”
I definitely identify with being depressed at not getting what I want. I’ve had some mediocre presents, like too-small tshirts and ill-fitting bracelets and necklaces that remain stowed away in their packaging in a corner of my drawer. I don’t remember the last time I got a present I was truly delighted with, and no one gives presents anymore anyway. What I long for is some spark, some spontaneity to liven up the day and ease the pain of getting older.
To better birthdays ahead, hopefully.