I hate birthdays.
Well, my own anyway.
I’m all up for celebrating friends birthdays, I want to. I want the people I care about to have a day all about them. One where they get to do what they want and eat as much cake as they can stomach. And let their nearest and dearest rally round them to show them how much they’re loved.
When it comes to my own birthday I have very different ideas.
For a start, I HATE being the centre of attention! I feel uncomfortable with things being all about me. Even a day which is all about me. Well, not all about me according to my Mum, she likes to celebrate the day I came into the world. And also feels it’s her right after almost 24 hours of labour to get me here…! I guess I can kind of give her that. I am her first born after all (she does celebrate my wee brother’s the same, no favouritism there).
Since turning 21, pretty much every birthday has felt like a reminder that I’m not where I should be in life. And in some cases where I want to be. We’re told by society that a mark of how successful you are is by hitting certain life goals by a certain stage. Especially for women. This translates into bagging a man who wants to marry you, having babies and owning a house. Some sort of career also plays a part. And if you can do all this looking like you’re 24 when in fact you’re 30, even better!
For me, the job thing is important and along with that a salary I think I deserve. It’s also about getting to travel. And yes, babies and owning a house come into it too. During (most of) my 20’s I never felt like I was at the stage I wanted to be. I felt like I was fumbling through life and not really making any gains. Even when I became a homeowner, and even when I got engaged. This may have been because those milestones were reached with the wrong person.
The one real exception in my 20’s was my 28th birthday.
In terms of life goals, I had taken a massive step back. I was back living with my parents after ending a relationship that had lasted almost nine years, and called off a wedding with just over two months to go. In many ways, I felt a little worried about my situation. Mostly because I was closer to 30 than 25, newly single and no longer a homeowner. Plus I was going to have to start dating at some point…! But regardless of all this, for the first time in years I felt like I’d taken control of life. I felt f**king amazing.
Yes, I’d called off a wedding. Yes, I’d hurt someone (I did him a favour in the long run really). Yes, I’d lost money for wedding deposits, and was in the process of being bought out of a flat. It was one of the most stressful times in my life. But also one of the best. I’d been unhappy for years, much more than I realised. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. I started smiling and laughing again. Not long after my 28th birthday, I met Mark.
Fast forward two years and my 30th birthday was looming. I was jobless. The things that weren’t in my life that I want were highlighted even more because I was feeling so low. It’s a big birthday, people expect you to celebrate. I wanted to hide and eat a giant cake with a fork all by myself. That didn’t happen. I had a party, I got drunk, and moaned to Mark about not wanting to turn 30. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop it though and here I am almost a year into my 30’s.
I turn 31 very soon.
You know what? I’m not dreading it. As a teenager I thought when you got to your 30’s you were old. I expected to have kids by now. I expected to be a proper functioning adult. Rather the type of adult who frequently runs out of clean clothes to wear because I haven’t got around to doing washing in a week. I thought I would have all the answers for everything. I don’t. And that’s ok.
People have said to me your 30’s are so much better than your 20’s. For me, I think that will definitely be the case. A lot of my 20’s were spent unhappy. I spent most of my weekends arguing. I didn’t travel much. And I really didn’t like the person I was. I was grumpy all the time. I was dealing with anxiety I didn’t even know I had and I didn’t have the balls to get myself out of a situation I hated. I’m glad I’m not married. I’m glad I don’t have kids, because it means if I do get those things at some point in the future they will be with someone I love and who is my best friend. Rather than with someone who was there at the time in my life that these milestones should have been hit.
I think your 20’s are the decade you really find out who you are. They are the time when you can make a total balls of life and learn from your mistakes. Meaning by the time you get to your 30’s you know you have the strength to overcome even the s*****st of things life can throw at you. You surround yourself with people you want in your life. I made and lost friends in my 20’s and I don’t feel sad about it. I know I have the best friends ever that I can rely on for anything.
I’ve decided 31 is the year I’m going to start enjoying birthdays.
My birthday last year was not really spent how I wanted it. And I often drag my heels when making birthday plans but this year I’m going to let there be a day all about me. I want to eat ALL the cake. I want to drink gin. And I’m going to think about what I’ve achieved in the last year rather than the things I don’t have that society tell me I should.
What are your thoughts on birthdays, do you hate them like me, or do you love a day all about you? Let me know in the comments!
Photo by M Richardson