B is for Birthday

There are roughly 3 categories of people in the world when it comes to birthdays: the ones who get excited in advance, the ones to whom it’s not really a big deal and the ones who get actively depressed around that time. I belong to a sub-category in between the first and the second – I pretend like I don’t really care, but secretly, I’m excited. On the actual day, I may inexplicably flit for a while to the third category, but I usually manage to bounce back.

It’s funny how you remember some birthdays so clearly, and how others barely make a blip on your radar. Growing up, I went through several types of birthdays. I had the typical large birthday parties, with decorations and door gifts, fancy cake (I remember one that was themed like a pink sheep farm!), food and lots of friends. Of course, I barely remember those people, even when I look at photos, but I remember enjoying those birthdays. Then adolescence set in, and I remember my mother having to physically drag me away from studying for my exam the next day to change clothes and cut a cake. My birthdays always fell right in the middle of exam period, and the mark of a good birthday in those years was having an easy exam (English!) the day after. Because of exams, being able to wear “colour dress” (as we called non-uniform clothes, and which now strikes me as painting a terribly sad black-and-white picture of school in general) was no big deal because it wasn’t a regular school day, and I couldn’t distribute sweets to my classmates.

On my birthday in my first year of university, I was struck with terrible homesickness. I thought I was going to have to spend the day alone because all my friends were busy, and I was happily proved wrong. That was the start of a good spell. University yielded some very good birthdays. I had a great bunch of friends, and because I was the only one to have a birthday in the second half of the year, I always got the most elaborately planned surprises. That first year was just the start of the ritual “sabos”, and in my third year, my friends went to a whole new level by conspiring with my brother and sister-in-law and tricking me into going to their place for the surprise. I couldn’t have asked for better birthdays those years.

Then it started going downhill. Work took up 90% of my time, and that first year after graduation, I was so tired, I went to sleep without checking email or Facebook for birthday notifications. That was a new experience for me, having only about a quarter of a day to celebrate and being too exhausted to even stay up until midnight to properly “end” my birthday. After the good old university days, this was a bleak reminder of what my life was going to be like for the next God-only-knew-how-many years.

These days, I can’t bring myself to get too excited about birthdays because there’s just not enough time to properly savour them. Once in a while, you get lucky with a weekend birthday, but most of the time, you’re stuck somewhere, spending your day the way you would any of the 364 other days of the year. It’s kind of sad, actually. There’s nothing really overly special about an event that comes every single year, but it’s a good occasion to gather the people you love, enjoy their company and just be thankful for having had another 365 days of experiences, of life. We don’t do that nearly enough. A birthday doesn’t have anything to do with ageing, and you don’t need 437 Facebook friends to wish you; it’s just an excuse to celebrate, to surround yourself with your favourite people and treat yourself. I wish we could all have the mindset and freedom of children when it comes to birthdays, basically.

I’m probably past the age of surprise birthday parties, and amazing birthday gifts are probably a thing of the past (I think we all did more with birthday gifts on a limited budget than we can think to do with money in our pockets), but it would be nice to still have one day in the year that’s guaranteed to make you feel good. A day off from work to enjoy some of your favourite things (maybe a day off for your bestie(s) as well, come to think of it), two nice meals and lots and lots of love showered on you.

It’s not too much to ask, is it?

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8 thoughts on “B is for Birthday

  1. Kie April 3, 2014 / 12:36 pm

    I don’t really do much to celebrate my birthday anymore, but I do get excited when the day actually comes. I try my best to take the day off work so I can treat it like my personal National holiday.

    I like where you mentioned that it should be a day to be thankful for another year of life. I’m going to keep that in mind the next time mine comes around.

    • Clueless April 3, 2014 / 5:51 pm

      Haha, I like that… treating your birthday like a National holiday! Do your friends get to enjoy that special holiday, too? 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Kie! Hope you’re enjoying the challenge so far!

  2. I.L. Wolf April 3, 2014 / 7:48 am

    Oops, sorry, I left your blog instead of my own. It’s been a long, long day (I’m also doing Camp Nanowrimo. And it’s only day 2. Yikes).

    • Clueless April 3, 2014 / 2:49 pm

      Haha, no worries! Good luck with your Nanowrimo… I know it can be gruelling!

  3. I.L. Wolf April 3, 2014 / 7:35 am

    I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not so into birthdays, though I have to admit, the gifts are awfully nice 🙂

    • Clueless April 3, 2014 / 2:44 pm

      Gifts are always nice, I admit. 😀

  4. GlassHalfWhat? April 2, 2014 / 5:42 pm

    I had a VERY similar post about birthdays on my blog long ago! I was also talking about the different ‘types’ of birthday-ers 🙂 I don’t know man, with getting older, I’m getting less enthusiastic about my birthdays and really really enthusiastic about other people’s birthdays! I’m obsessed with making presents and throwing parties, but for my own birthday I just want a day off and one or two shiny things 😀

    • Clueless April 3, 2014 / 2:48 pm

      Really? I don’t think I’ve read that post yet. I’ll go see! 🙂

      Ooh, it can be fun planning for other people’s birthdays, but I’m so bad at them! I have a lot of ideas, but I’m terrible at putting them into action. I always feel bad that I can’t reciprocate when people throw me great parties or give me awesome gifts, but it’s really a skill that only some people have!

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