Mental Health

Banishing the Birthday Blues

Birthdays are a blessing not a burden

Whether you’re introverted or fear the idea of getting older, not much seems more overwhelming than an entire day dedicated to celebrating you. Up until this year I dreaded my birthday. Now, finally, I can view it as something to look forward to, thanks to a new perspective.

Let Go of the Pressure

Like so many other celebrations and holidays, birthdays come with a lot of internal and external pressure to have a good time. This can all pile up into a big heap of unreachable expectations and subsequent disappointment for everyone involved.

Technically, your birthday is just another day so don’t burden yourself with any pressure. It has 24 hours just like yesterday and tomorrow, and every other day before and after.

Not only are there expectations for you to enjoy yourself, but reaching a new age also comes with societal expectations. By 20 you should be in college, 30 you should be married, and so on and so forth.

These “norms” are becoming less and less relevant so don’t worry yourself over them. Plus, anyone that would impose these upon you on your birthday has deeper issues within themselves. They can never and will never define your worth, remember that.

If you find yourself putting these societal pressures upon yourself or setting up lofty expectations knowing you’ll be disappointed, take a step back. Look at how far you’ve already come and all of the wonderful accomplishments of this past year of your life.

Unlike the New Year when people reflect on the past and future, this is the only milestone that revolves simply around you, which can be incredible if you allow it to be.

Additionally, don’t expect the day to be perfect. It won’t be. Through embarking on the day with a perfectionist mindset you’re setting yourself up to see all the things that went wrong.

Instead, know that it’s a special day and take the good things as they come without expectation and only gratitude.

Consider What You Like to Do

Many individuals feel obligated to do something for their birthday simply because they know it will make their friends and family uncomfortable if they don’t. Well, it’s not their birthday is it?

If you don’t want to go out to eat and would rather see a movie or go out of town with a few friends, or simply just have a nice night at home, then do it!

The right people won’t feel put out or disappointed, they’ll want you to do what makes you happiest on your day.

You also can’t hold it against your loved ones for holding a celebration you didn’t want if you never told them what you did want. Communicate so that you can have just what you’d like and make it a positive experience for everyone.

If you don’t want you birthday to be about you, then make it about others and encourage friends to donate to a charity rather than buying gifts. There’s always a way to turn things into something positive.

The best thing I’ve found to make my birthday special for myself is doing things that veer from my daily routines. I’m a creature of habit, so having a different breakfast or wearing a new outfit really helps the day seem special. The little things add up!

Birthday Blues

Honor Your Feelings, But Don’t Dwell

I’m a huge proponent of honoring whatever you feel as it comes. However, it’s unhealthy to wallow and unfair to take it out on those around you.

The next time you find yourself in the birthday blues, try and figure out why. Meditate, journal, or just really think deeply about the root of your feelings.

Is it because you feel unworthy? Insecure? Angry? Through discovering the reasoning behind your feelings, you could be giving yourself the ultimate birthday gift of never having a bad one again.

Learn to Celebrate Yourself

If you can’t celebrate yourself one day of the year, you probably don’t do the other 364 days either. Establishing a good relationship with yourself is key to see the best in others and the world around you.

Think back on this past year and look at everything you accomplished. Sometimes, that’s as simple as just surviving the year at all.

Most individuals I’ve encountered, including myself, hate their own birthdays but love other people’s. That’s no way to be. What makes your day different? Nothing!

You deserve a celebration just as much as anyone else. Don’t feel guilt for the attention or praise put upon you. Chances are, your loved ones look forward to a celebration of such a special person in their lives.

Birthdays aren’t inherently selfish, so don’t warp them to be. Use the day as a celebration of yourself and  those closest to you that brought you to where you are today.

Cover image via Healthline

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Also published on Medium.

Sarah is a sophomore studying journalism at the University of Miami. She...