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Birthdate / Birthday

Today I turned another year older. Last night before midnight, I felt hyper aware of the minutes ticking down. It came and it happened. How many other people around the world also have the same birthdate as me, I wonder?

The years of getting a cake and posing for photos in my best dress to commemorate the day are long past. Personally I’m thankful for no longer having people sing Happy Birthday to me and watching me blow out the candles. The older I got, the more tacky the unofficial tradition was to me. Opening presents was awkward as well; feeling people gauge my reaction once I unveiled the contents of their wrapped gifts. I have never had a birthday party unless I count one that my parents hosted when I turned 1 year old. I was doubtful that happened but the evidence was in a family photo album.

On my birth certificate which I’ve seen only a handful of times, the exact hour of my birth was in the evening. I have an imagined visual of what my coming into the world was like. It’s probably not accurate, though I assume given the nature of childbirth that for my mom it was obviously hard work. I don’t know how many hours she labored for and I have never asked her about it in-depth.

What I do know is very sparse. I’ve seen old photos of myself cocooned in a bundle of cloth in the hospital room after delivery. It’s been a good long time since I flipped through those images… I was a kid the last time I did. I had a hard time then believing that little baby was really me. I was so red in the face after birth and my head looked so huge, lol.

In recent past years I dealt with my birthday very poorly. Either I felt very low for not meeting the supposed expectations of how to celebrate, or felt very terrible for not having any “noteworthy achievements” thus far in my life to warrant a celebration. It got to the point I would not even want to look at any birthday messages or well-wishes people sent me; all because I didn’t want to be reminded of my own supposed failures in life.

Today I didn’t do anything in particular and that was all right by me. The day went on like any regular ol’ day. And maybe because I dislike being the center of attention, but it was a relief no one came up to me to wish me well on my birthday. I don’t know why that kind of face-to-face acknowledgement is so hard for me to be comfortable with, but I’m fine if people text or message me birthday messages.

I also feel weird when people do stuff especially for me… There’s no time tonight since my dad is returning from an overseas trip and needs to be picked up from the airport, however, my brother wants to treat me to dinner tomorrow along with our parents. I’m slightly nervous thinking the decision of where we’ll be eating might be left up to me. I hate being in charge. I worry I’ll pick a place no one else is interested in going to, but I guess whatever happens will happen.

How do you like/not like to spend your birthday?


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16 thoughts on “Birthdate / Birthday

  1. Starting at I think age 25 or so I’ve changed in the way I react to birthdays too. I’ve always enjoyed them, but for myself, I started to become weirdly sensitive and almost self-loathing during my birthdays… Very odd… I’m glad you had the uneventful, relaxed birthday you wanted 🙂 everyone celebrates differently, which should be respected

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    1. It sucks to be unhappy on your own birthday. 😦 I understand the feeling. Mostly I don’t like dealing with the reality of being a year older. I know it’s just a number but still. :/

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      1. It does haha. I feel like it’s a mini existential crisis and like, “Do people love me? Why am I here?” kind of quandary. I would be turning 28 in a few months and that boggles my mind because I still feel closer to 18 than 28!

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  2. First of all, Happy Belated Birthday!
    I’m glad you go to to spend it mostly on your terms.
    Those “celebrations” aren’t for me, either…
    I remember in my previous workplace, they would ask me to order lunch from wherever I wanted, and then when I told there where it was going to be from, they decided to pick a place on their own, because they weren’t a fan of the cuisine.

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  3. Happy birthday! Your birthday is the one day you get to choose what you want to do. You chose to spend it like any other day and that’s your right, don’t feel guilty about it 🙂 Is there any particular place you like to eat at and that you sometimes go to with your family? If you’re too anxious to pick the place yourself, you could also ask your brother to make a ‘surprise’ reservation for you, so you won’t feel responsible if your parents don’t like the place.

    I like to celebrate my birthday with a small group of friends, but I hate any special attention, like a surprise cake at a restaurant or people singing to me. I think it’s extremely embarrassing. I’m also very bad at faking enthousiasm about a present I don’t really like, so I’m always afraid they’ll notice and I’d rather not receive any presents at all.

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    1. I am not much of a restaurant person, mostly because I am more accustomed to eating simple meals at home. It works well for me since I can’t cook much (lol) and I have simple tastes for a lot of foods where I don’t really care to add flavor or whatever. Typically my family and I frequent this one Vietnamese restaurant sometimes but I don’t think I’ll pick that one. I am thinking of someplace I have been to but not as often.

      I hate the surprise cake or singing too. Especially in a public place where restaurant guests at other tables can see. I don’t like opening presents in front of people for the same reason. It’s a lot of pressure to appear super happy about the present, and awkward even when I loved the present but feel uncomfortable looking very enthused about it because everyone is staring at me.

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  4. Happy Birthday, Nat! Sound like it was a low-key day and not much fuss, and the introvert in you must be at least happy with that 🙂 I hope dinner with your brother and parents was okay and nothing too awkward. Like you, I’m not big on celebrating birthdays. Don’t want to have a bunch of people singing Happy Birthday to me, and I already don’t know how to react when someone wishes me Happy Birthday in person XD

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    1. Ah, the dinner didn’t happen yet and might be postponed for another day. I actually completely forgot about it at some point since relatives were visiting and my dad wants to cook for them. Now I’d rather not eat out because I would have preferred just my parents and brother for a small birthday thing, instead of having more people there with me.

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      1. Think of that: eating out with your parents, versus eating in with your parents and other relatives. Not sure which I prefer…I mean, I like lesser people but I also like to be at home XD

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