Last week I celebrated my 23rd birthday. And when I say celebrated I mean I had one night out, one meal out, one pancake breakfast, three different versions of chocolate cake – two home made and one shop bought- and one serving of sugar/dairy/gluten free banana bread. – All to celebrate, well my existence. I was spoilt.
So why is it, that as a child I loved my birthday – counted down the days, had that fluttery feeling in my stomach the night before- and now as I get older, I seem to wake up on the day feeling like shit? I don’t mean to. I don’t decide the night before I’m going to feel crap. Something happens in my brain on the day that says “Nope, today is NOT a good day. Shut up, eat your cake and pretend it’s just another day”.
But it’s not just another day. I mean obviously it is, but it’s so much more than that. It’s the day you got here, the day you changed someone’s life, the day you made two people feel more needed and necessary than ever. I mean it’s a big day. Your existence is a big deal. But sadly somewhere along the way, we’ve learnt that getting older is a bad thing. – That there’s something negative about another year of growth, experience and LIFE. I’ve somehow subconsciously picked up the message that you’re not supposed to enjoy your birthday, because getting older is meant to suck and we’re to hide our age and not celebrate it.
But see I don’t agree with this. This idea that birthdays are only for children. (Many people actually think that adults should not celebrate their birthdays, that if anything we should hide under a large rock on our special day).
I had to remind myself that not everyone makes it to their twenty-third birthday (or their thirty-third or seventy-third..). As morbid as that sounds, I knew I really should feel grateful to be alive and healthy. So why did I feel so pissed off??
I – and a couple of my friends- have come to the conclusion it’s the expectation. The expectation that something wonderful, magical even is going to happen on the day. And when it doesn’t, you go to bed thinking well the cards were nice, and the cake tasted pretty good, but where was the magic? Where were the butterflies I got when I was ten?
In retrospect, I realise the magic was there, it was just a little clouded in the mist of adult life. The magic is in the people. It’s knowing someone was thinking of you when they wrote you that card, sent you that Happy Birthday greeting or baked you that cake. Those people are grateful for your existence, that you are you. If someone is willing to celebrate you, it’s because you’re worth celebrating. Take the freakin’ day. You only get it once a year. It’s yours.
I know, nobody wants to get older. So what we get to twenty-one then just dread every Birthday after that? How pathetic. Maybe I’m too young to understand why people are so sensitive about their age. But to me, with age comes personal growth, wisdom and experience. (And maybe a few wrinkles but I can handle a wrinkle, it’s the menopause I fear). I don’t see how growth and experience are something to dread. I firmly believe we should celebrate getting through another year, because life is hard, it can be amazing, but it can also be a s***-storm and we should celebrate our strength.
So for my next birthday, instead of going over all the things a twenty-three year old is supposed to have done with their life, I’m going to have a whole day of gratitude. A day to focus on counting my blessings. A day to celebrate being alive, being healthy and having wonderful people in my life to celebrate with. Because whether you are twenty-three or eighty-three, there is always something to celebrate, there is always magic to be found.