Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Birthdays and the Blues

The other day, I said, "Mic, have a good day!"
His reply? "Don't tell me what to do!"
He was kidding of course. But I think we forget, that is an imperative sentence, it gives a command. Maybe that's why I feel awkward saying it and hearing it.

"Happy birthday". What does that mean anyway? Is it like "Merry Christmas" that it just means, "Hey it's Christmas, I just want to say that outloud"? How are we supposed to respond to "Merry Christmas" anyway? It's just kinda an awkward phrase. Is "Happy Birthday" supposed to be a greeting or the shortened version of, "I hope you have a good birthday"?

Hopes are different than commands.

Every year I seem to forget, I don't really care for my birthday. It's not the day. It's not the reality of getting another year older. It's a lot of things that I'm about to list and you may read and end up feeling slightly depressed about. I'm warning you.

First of all there seems to be this hanging expectation in the air that my birthday is supposed to be the best day of the year. Actually, it's usually one of the lowest. Why would all of my pre-existing struggles cease to exist just because of the date on the calendar? It's another day.

Today I happen to feel tired, my stomach hurts, class was uninteresting, work is lonely, and people are grumpy and complaining about the elections. I'm not saying I'm doomed to be depressed because of circumstances. But I am saying, my birthday is not destined to be wonderful just becuase I happened to be born at this exact time 21 years earlier.

Random people I don't know say, "Happy Birthday" to me on the sidewalk. We've never spoken before. It feels little less than genuine.

Friends might forget and then feel bad, they didn't say the magic words to me at some point during the day. Remembering or forgetting a date on the calendar does not make me feel more or less loved.

My rant about my birthday is similar to my rant about Valentines day. Getting flowers on Valentine's day isn't half as great as getting flowers on say, June 23rd. Because on Valentines day about a billion other women are getting flowers on V-day, so of course, you might get flowers. It's not quite as special.

I suppose each year on my birthday when I get to spend time with good friends and family, I am reminded, we should make people feel special every day, not just their birthdays. It's like we store up all the good things to say to people for that one day.

I say, "Spread the love."

I'm a bit melancholy on my birthday. It's another day. Usually on my birthday I am reminded of all the things I am not, still.

I see change and growth. But I was tempted this morning to just lay in bed all day and hide. All the attention drawn on birthdays is a bit uncomfortable. Birthdays are not custom fit to every type of person. I don't like random people suddenly noticing me one day of the year and blushing, uncomfortably while they sing that dang song.

Wow, this has turned into quite a rant.

Now for some optimism in case you are now reconsidering that Hallmark e-card you were about to send: I am grateful for the wonderful people in my life. I am glad to be appreciated. I am not anti-birthday, anti-valentine's day, or anti-....anything. I am pro-'daily reminding people they matter'. I am pro-'helping people feel comfortable'. I am pro-'using words carefully'. I am pro-'love', whatever that looks like.


lisa said...

I hope with the democrats winning the election could chase away your birthday blues.... :)

Carley Brown said...

Haha... I loved your birthday rant. Mine's coming up soon. I feel the same. I hope you don't mind me reading your blog. I know I don't know you at all.. but I love it. I know people you know though and actually just put two and two together and figured out you were in Cambodia with Trina Yeo. I went to highschool with her and I read her blog regularly and am friends with her although I don't see her often. And I know your at Union so I might know people you know cause I also went to Ozark in Arkansas and lots go to Union from there.
Anyways.. this is a long comment.. but I actually do hope that at least the ones you love and would love to hear from.. Made you feel special on your birthday.