So tomorrow is my birthday. (39, before you ask.)
I don’t really care about my birthday. For the most part, it’s just another day, albeit one that, when it falls on a weekday, gives me an excuse to take a day off – or, as with this year, two days off – from work.
But honestly, what is there to care about? I am, as the ever-increasing number that corresponds with each birthday can attest, no longer a child. I’m not likely to get anything really cool in the way of presents, or at least, nothing that’s going to excite me in quite the same way as the presents I received as a child did. That’s not intended as any sort of slight against whatever presents I do receive, or the people who give them to me, it’s just the reality, for me, of getting older.
Beyond the simple loss of childish enthusiasm that inevitably happens as one progresses further and further away from childhood, my birthday tends not to mean much to me because I refuse to allow it to mean much to me.
Birthdays can, especially as you approach significant milestones, be a time of self-reflection, of taking stock and seeing what you’ve accomplished, what you’ve yet to accomplish.
Fuck. That. Shit.
Or really, more to the point, what the hell else do you think I spend my time doing the other 364 days of the year? Who needs to set aside a day to something you do all of the time anyway?
Especially when you consider how depressing the results of taking stock can be…
And that’s the other ting; I’ve had a history of becoming rather maudlin and depressed, sometimes for weeks on end, during the period preceding and following my birthday, and, as I said before, Fuck. That. Shit.
It’s exhausting. I’m tired of being depressed just because I’ve managed to stick around for another year.
So, as much as I can, I try to strip the date of its significance.
And yet, despite the fact that my birthday means so little to me, and is just another day (to whatever extent it can be – I’m human, after all, so significant dates can’t help but hold at least some amount of, well, significance), I’ve noticed that I feel the need to draw attention to the date in conversation with other people.
As my birthday approaches, I’m quick to point out that my birthday is approaching.
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
-Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”
“Tomorrow is my birthday,” I will say, unprompted.
Being incapable of totally avoiding the whole self-reflection and taking stock thing, I can’t help but wonder why that is. Am I an attention whore? Am I eager to hear people say, “Oh, well, happy birthday!” or to try to fish for compliments? (“39? You look so young!”)
I don’t think that’s it. I suspect that it has more to do with just owning the day, and feeling that it beats the alternative of saying nothing and then, after the fact, bemoaning the fact that no one knew or remembered that it was my birthday. That is, while it doesn’t mean that much to me, and I wouldn’t be terribly hurt if people didn’t know about or acknowledge my birthday (though, again, human, so it would sting a little), it’s not something I can completely ignore, so if it has to happen, it should happen on my terms.
Or something. What the hell do I know? For as much time as I spend in self-reflection and taking stock, I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten any good at it….
Anyway, speaking of birthdays, today is (utterly awesome) artist Amanda Conner's birthday. Check out this sweet birthday tribute at Comics Alliance.