As the title suggests, it is soon to be my 30th anniversary of arriving on this planet. June 3rd if you want to get technical. But I won’t be celebrating. More specifically, I won’t be going out of my way to celebrate it.
It’s a ‘big’ birthday right? I *should* be celebrating it! Bullshit. I’m not a birthday girl. Never have been. I’m a highly sensitive introvert currently suffering major depression and anxiety; making a fuss about anything in my life is about the worse thing I, or others, could do for me. But it’s really hard to go against such steadfast societal beliefs isn’t it?! ‘Why on Earth wouldn’t I want to celebrate turning 30’? Honestly? Because I feel like shit and drawing attention to the fact that I’m reaching 30 years old without simultaneously reaching societal expectations of that age is tough. I don’t want to celebrate this year because last year was the happiest I’ve ever been and I’m still not through the grieving process of leaving my beautiful Bondi life behind. So I don’t want to celebrate. I don’t want ‘one big birthday gift’ that everyone chips into because ‘big birthdays equal expensive gifts’; that is not who I am.
Who am I?
I’m the woman who’d rather receive little gift cards for Etsy to adorn my walls in gorgeous prints I love, Asos to wear bright colours when I feel a little dark and Amazon to fill my mind with beautiful words that inspire me. I’m the woman who’d like my aunties home-made lemon meringue pie for dessert instead of a birthday cake. I’m the woman who, in a weird way, would rather spend my day sharing it with all of you hosting a workshop in a room sharing our deepest hopes and fears and crying about them. My absolute dream? To be in the safety of my own home or with all of you surrounded by birthday wishes, cards and messages feeling loved and excited to do some serious online shopping.
It’s easy to celebrate with others when you feel like celebrating but there’s nothing worse than the expectations of celebrations when nothing could be further from your mind. I don’t feel like celebrating. There. I said it. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy acknowledgement of my birthday but I can’t bring myself to pretend, even for a day, that I want to celebrate being alive for another year when I don’t feel I want to be. That’s the cold, hard truth of it. It doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful to have a good job, a family that will try and buy me a gift card or two or this amazing community which brings me such warmth. It simply means that right now, my head and heart can’t cope being surrounded by forced happiness. Because that’s the key to the pain right there…you can’t force yourself to be happy. Whether you suffer mental health issues or you’re just sad about something in your life right now, you can’t turn on happiness as if it were a light switch. It doesn’t work like that. If it did, we wouldn’t suffer to the tortuous extent that we do.
I should get away from it all and go on holiday right? ‘Celebrate in style’!? Wrong. I’m too depressed to enjoy myself so it would be a waste of money even if I’m on a beach.
Tired of listening to me ‘whinge and moan’ already?! Welcome to my head. Nobody said mental illness was ‘fun’ or that social events when you are ill are easy; quite the opposite. As you’ve just read, I can write hundreds of words explaining my reasons for not wanting to have a conventional birthday but you know what?! You don’t have to be mentally ill to not want a birthday celebration!
Maybe you’re an introvert, like me, and therefore struggle with physical fuss over you and would prefer to be buried under a pile of birthday cards filled with kind words about you on your special day. Maybe you’re going through a rut in your life and you don’t feel like smiling much. Or maybe you’re just someone that doesn’t take to celebrating much in your life. It’s your choice whether you choose to recognise and celebrate your birthday or not and how you want to even if that means disconnecting from the world, closing the front door and staying in bed all day with trashy TV and a good book.
For me, birthdays are like any other ‘special day’ such as Mother’s Day/Father’s Day/Valentines etc – a Hallmark Holiday. They are physical dates in the diary companies jumped on the bandwagon of to sell us things we don’t need. Call me cynical but I have a lot of love to give; I don’t need to be told on what days it’s appropriate to give it. I tell me friends throughout the year how much I love them and send them little cards when they get job promotions or are struggling with life. I love my mum all 364 other days of the year and buy her little gifts or hug her to death in the vegetable aisle of the supermarket. And you guys?! Well, you guys are something special...you share your stories and kind words with me all the time and that warms my heart on every day that isn’t my birthday.
So in the words of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, this year I’m going to have a very Happy UN-birthday! If I want to be miserable, I will be. If I want to stay in bed all day hiding from the world, I will. And if I want to eat the whole lemon meringue pie to myself, remind me that it’s probably not a good idea and that it will keep in the fridge!