Updated: Aug 1, 2020
‘Happy Birthday!!’ implies you MUST be happy on your birthday, right? You can’t possibly be low on your birthday, It’s a day of joy, celebration and happiness. Why are you sulking? Why are you being ungrateful? - This is what a lot of us can say to ourselves around our Birthdays. Birthdays can actual be a tough time of year for a lot of people, and the birthday blues can be an emotional head fuck. Here’s why:
• We feel lonely - We may start to compare the amount of people that actually care. We can feel like we don’t have many friends, or that family members just aren’t really putting the effort in. This can really hurt, even when we claim we don’t want a fuss, all we want is to feel a little special on our birthday.
• We’re the centre of attention - Some of us don’t like being the centre of attention, and even if we do, we like to on our terms for our reasons. Take me for example, don’t get me wrong I like attention and am used to it, that doesn’t mean I want it forced upon me. We could feel low for several reasons, and suddenly having everyone staring at you can create a large amount of pressure.
• We compare our birthdays to others - (*cough* social media *cough*) It’s so easy to look through social media and see people turning the same age as us, and they’ve got the whole family making it super special. Everyone wants to make it amazing; all their friends are putting effort in and they look visibly very happy and care-free. The issue with this is that everyone’s different. We don’t have their friends, we don’t have their family, and we sure as hell don’t have their mind.
• EXPECTATIONS - In our head, we feel like everyone’s expecting us to be the life of the party. We feel we’ll be judged if we’re unhappy on our birthday. Believe it or not, the birthday blues are a lot more common than you think.
I’ve always hated my birthday; this is where the highlight reel comes. Other people’s birthdays and celebrations are always flooded onto social media. Even if it’s not on social media but you’re invited to an event, you get to see someone’s entire social life in one room, and it can feel a little overwhelming. For myself, going to other people’s birthdays stresses me out because I can’t match it. I barely have enough friends to fill my bedroom, let alone an event. So, when my birthday comes around, I feel low. It makes me feel lonely when no one makes any effort, it also sucks when I feel like I have an expectation to live up to with a platform like this as everyone else does something BIG! You know the whole 21st balloons and champagne with sparklers blah blah blah. When I know I’m just going to spend my 21st, alone. However, there are people that put the effort in for me, and appreciating these people make me grateful for what I’ve got.
On that note, here’s how to cope with the birthday blues:
• Turn your phone off - (that’s what I did for most of the day) You have NO expectations to live up to, it’s your birthday and you celebrate it however you like. Even if it means you lie in bed eating dominos watching friends on a LOOP, that’s a pretty dope way to spend the day.
2. Appreciate people - When we get ourselves into this negative headspace, it can be easy to forget the people that are actually there, people that want to celebrate with you. The number of friends shouldn’t make you feel popular, the level of effort should. My mum has always been my rock for my birthday, she puts balloons up every year for me and it just makes it special (although two years ago she didn’t because she thought I wouldn’t want it because I was older, and I literally cried) - Now she does it every year without fail.
3. It’s not about stuff - Some people seem to think birthdays are all about the gifts or about a big “fancy meal”, and to some people it is. But, to some of us we just want to be thought about. We don’t care about the material stuff from other people, all we want is their time and attention. So, focus on the people who are willing to give you this, rather than those that aren’t.
4. It’s ok to cry - When we feel this head-fuck of emotions, we can end up feeling guilty and wrestle with it all. Just know, if you are struggling that crying is more than ok. If you need to take yourself off to let it all out, then do. If you want to open up to someone about it then do. You’re allowed to feel low, the one thing you are not allowed to feel is guilty.
My 21st was this week, and I spent the day with those that I love. I wanted to appreciate the people who were actively putting effort in to make the day special for me, rather than thinking about the people that didn’t.
And you know what? I actually enjoyed it.