Saturday, May 30, 2009

From Reluctant Reciever To Reluctant Non-receiver: Why Birthdays Suck.

I hate having birthdays. And it's not even because I'm that old. I hate birthdays because birthdays are just another day to be let down and disappointed. Perhaps I am being overly dramatic. You'll have to forgive me because it's my birthday and today sucks.

For the past couple years, I have had a string of not so good birthdays. I think it was the hard transition from happy childhood birthday parties that you look forward to each year and the all-too mundane adult birthday. After I turned 18, it seemed too indulgent for me to invite a slew of guests to come bring me gifts in nicely wrapped boxes. So I settled for lunches and dinner with family. I was ok with this compromise for a few years. As long as people would confer upon me as much attention as before while I could play the reluctant receiver of attention (all the while LOVING every minute).

But lately, birthdays have lost all their glamour and it all started the day I turned 21. Do you know how long I had looked forward to 21? Of course you do! That's the age you have your sights set on the second you step foot on a college campus! But the day I turned 21, my friends and roomates completely let me down. All I wanted was to go out to a club and dance - I had been looking forward to it forever! One of my roommates couldn't take any time out of her busy schedule to go out with me. My other roommate was anti-social and wouldn't go out. And my supposed best friend told me that it just wasn't her thing. I understood that it "wasn't her thing" and that she might have been a little uncomfortable but seriously, together we would have had a blast.

So I didn't let them stop me. I boarded the "el" and headed to a bar near DePaul...alone. I didn't know anyone at DePaul and so I entered a room full of strangers. I bought a drink and started dancing. Eventually I met this guy who bought me a drink. I told him it was my 21st birthday and he looked at me in disbelief.

"Yeah right," he said.
"Seriously. It is!"
"You're just saying that to get free drinks. If it's your birthday, where are your friends? People don't go to bar alone on their 21st birthday."

He hit the nail right on the head with that one.

Since then, birthdays have all been the same: uneventful. I get a nice call from my parents and from my brother who shares the same birthday as me (although he is 2 years younger). And I get a "happy birthday" greeting from my husband. And that's it. The problem is, it's my fault. I secretly expect my birthday to be a special day about me just like when I was a kid. And every year I get just an ordinary day. It's not so much the presents I miss, because really I get uncomortable when people buy me things. It's just the attention I miss. I miss people making my birthday a big deal.

So happy mundane birthday to me. Maybe when everyone goes to bed I'll have a glass of wine and think about how old I am. Wait- I'm 25 today so doesn't that entitle me to some kind of quarter-life crisis? When I drink my wine, I will start picking out my quarter life crisis: car?, baby?, new job as a stripper?....hmmmm.....


Someone Being Me said...

Happy Birthday! I've had mostly boring or crappy birthdays since childhood with 2 epic hangovers at 21 and 22. You are just going to have to start making your own birthdays exciting if you can't count on the others around you to do it. Take yourself out for a pedicure or shopping spree or both. Tell your husband exactly where you want him to take you out and schedule babysitting. They always say if you want something done right, do it yourself.

Allison said...

Happy birthday!! I agree with Someone Being Me. I have been teaching my husband for the last 10 years when he needs to make a fuss over me -- for some guys they have missed this growing up and just need it to be spelled out for them. Maybe just tell him a month or so in advance that you'd really like a special birthday this year (and then do that every year).

Googie Baba said...

Oh Happy (belated) Birthday! They do suck. But as an adult I have been into inviting a few people over for dinner. I know someone is supposed to do it for you, but that's not going to happen. It has always made my day special, but not like I am an attention whore. Life is disappointing like that. I didn't really enjoy Christmas until I had a kid. But now its magical again.

BTW - what were you doing in Chicago? I am curious because I went to Northwestern.

gudnuff said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY (retroactively)!!!

Proto Attorney said...

Happy belated birthday! I know what you mean about having a sucky 21st birthday, but yours was super-sucky. Sorry this birthday was sucky too.

Sounds like you need to have a sit-down Come-to-Jesus talk with the Hubby about how, just because it isn't important to him, doesn't mean it isn't important to you, and he doesn't get to be dismissive of your feelings. I'd be super pissed too.