Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Birthday Anxiety

After another year celebrating my day of birth, I wanted to write about something that I do not talk about often. 

Birthday anxiety has been a thing for me since secondary school, when somewhere along the line birthdays became less about bouncy castles and fun and more about something more (although I can’t quite put my finger on what).

For me, there is a sense of pressure that is attached to the celebration and weeks leading up to the day; you’re expected to be excited for the big day, to have formalised plans. But what if you don’t? I have tried to manage this in a number of ways. I have attempted to ignore my birthday and not celebrate it at all, run away to another country, go all out and throw a party, spent it with family etc etc. Yet, nothing soothes this sense of discomfort for some reason. I've always attributed this feeling to social expectations that may be linked to birthdays as it seemed to develop during adolescence, a life period highly associated with social groups and interaction. However, regardless of whether I have big plans with friends or across the continent, the feeling remains. 

Perhaps the pressure lies with the expectation for the day to be positive, when we know as humans this is not always life's way. I guess, everyone is expecting you enjoy your birthday and this is not hidden as they literally tell you, “Hope you’re having a good day!” “Have a good birthday!” It’s almost embarrassing to admit you still feel shit on your birthday. How dare you.

Alternatively I have considered whether it is related to a fear of being seen. After all, you can’t deny you’re often the centre of attention on the day, God forbid someone buy you one of those badges to parade around on your chest. For some of us, perhaps it’s difficult to have everyone’s attention on you when you’re accustomed to hiding parts of yourself or insecure about yourself, generally.

This year I am grateful to say I enjoyed my day but the anxiety around the day prompted me to write this post. It remains unclear to me why I have this sense of worry and shame attached to my birthday as if, everyone is going to be sitting at home laughing at me saying “look at what Mayowa did for her birthday ha ha ha”. Chances are, no one really cares except my mum and I realise now that your birthday is just another opportunity to share love with those important to you and perhaps the one time a year you can just soak in all the love directed at you too.

Not sure anyone else experienced this? Let me know!


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