The Birthday

Around it came again.

Last year as it was fast approaching the end of the year, most were starting the wind down to the Christmas and New Year period: the beginning of December, where Christmas carols are played and decorations put up on display to celebrate the upcoming festive season. “It’s a terrible time of year to have a birthday,” a family member said one day whilst on the subject of going through the timing of birthdays and where everyone in the family fitted in.

As I reflected on this, I realised most of my friends and family who had birthdays at the end of the year would say that birthdays at that time were really unfortunate as everyone else was focused on the end of the year celebrations rather than on their birthday. Then looking at my own experience of having a birthday at the end of the year, I felt a similar feeling of missing out. For as long as I could remember, I had approached my birthday wanting it to look and be a certain way, but it would never match up to the expectations I had placed on it. This caused a great deal of anxiety as the gap between the picture of how I wanted it to be and how it would turn out was so wide. I would fill it with doubt and regret, putting myself down to the point where I would approach my birthday with dread as I knew it would be another year of failed dreams, where how I wanted the day to play out never matched how it would actually unfold.

As I approached last year’s celebration, similar feelings arose. I could sense these feelings coming up again, observing them as they did, and recognising what they were: they were expectations I had placed on how I wanted my birthday to look. By looking at this one event in the year, it also enabled me to piece together that there were other situations in life such as relationships with family members and others, and in work situations where I had wanted things to be a certain way yet felt the disappointment when my ideal of the situation didn’t match what was happening.

As last year’s birthday approached, something shifted in me. There was a realisation that yes, my birthday is a great marker to celebrate the day I was born, but if all the pressure was placed on this one day to unfold how I wanted it to be, then there would be a deflation when the expectation was not met. Furthermore, I realised that instead of leaving it for others to celebrate me, what if I could celebrate myself and all I am? And rather than needing gifts, see myself as a gift to the world and to feel the depth and beauty of who I am and celebrate this fact with all those around me. As the day came, I woke with the feeling that I was the gift to share on my birthday. There were no fancy gifts or a massive party. It was a day of connecting with friends and family, enjoying and appreciating how much grander life is when it comes from the appreciation within.

Rather than save up our celebration for one day, what if every day was a celebration of us, our connection to the true nature of what we are and the lived outward expression of this? How beautiful would life be?

By Chris Vale, Chris Vale, Mechanical fitter, Father, Dog Owner and Observer of Life, Perth, Western Australia

Further Reading:
Birthdays
Connection with myself is pure gold
My Birthday: Celebrating ME Instead of Getting Wasted

3 thoughts on “The Birthday

  1. Chris I really adore the words you have used
    “what if I could celebrate myself and all I am? And rather than needing gifts, see myself as a gift to the world and to feel the depth and beauty of who I am and celebrate this fact with all those around me.”
    Let’s face it, the majority of us when we are small are not adored or made to feel special in any way. In my family it would be seen as getting too big for your boots if you even celebrated yourself for something you did that was felt to be amazing. Looking back even though my parents were not strictly religious, my father especially had some very religious beliefs that were very evident as we grew up. The Roman Catholic faith definitely had no truck with feeling the depth and beauty of anyone, it was made pretty clear from their religious beliefs that you were a sinner. So how gorgeous is it that you can celebrate your depth and beauty as a man and share this with everyone everyday and not just leave it for your birth-day. Because then we all miss out.

  2. A beautiful way to look at birthdays as something we can surely all relate to as an opportunity to set ourselves up for disappointment. When we celebrate ourselves there is no need for it to come from anyone else outside of us, and we can share that love with everyone anyway.

  3. I used to have similar reservations towards and a dread of my birthday, for different reasons. It took a few decades to realise that I am in charge of how I want my birthday to be and that I was not the child at the receiving end of other people’s forgetfulness, lack of care, etc. anymore. Simple.

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