What if you hate your birthday?

What do you do when you hate the one celebration revolving around you? (Image Source: Kimballstock)

By Faye Couros | @CourosFaye

I stopped liking my birthday in year 11.

I don’t think I could articulate my aversion at the time, but I think it has a lot to do with the fuss.

Every now and then, I am reminded that my birthday is steadfastly occurring, and thinking about that gives me a pang of anxiety.

When Elle Magazine published an article called “What Do You Do When You Hate Your Own Birthday“, I felt very seen reading the title.

This was further amplified when I then came across the term “birthday blues”.

It was an aha! moment.

“Birthday Blues” is the term that gives meaning to how I feel on my birthday.

Stewart Shankman, a psychologist from the University of Illinois, explained to Elle that “birthday blues” describes the depression that occurs on one’s birthday.

“It can be normal for the day to trigger depression because birthdays force people to examine their identity,” Mr Shankman said.

University student Olivia Edmond thinks she was around 12 when her birthday stopped appealing to her.

“On a surface level I’m not good with the pressure of organising events for myself,” Ms Edmond said.

“I’m also not a fan of being the centre of attention, so that plays into the lack of enthusiasm.”

Ms Edmond feels birthdays can make us stress over the “timelines” we have set for ourselves that are fabricated by society, which Mr Shankman said motivates birthday blues.

“Now I am older, I think it is the time factor, not the fact that I’m getting older…but rather that birthdays are harsh reminder[s] of a timeline,” she said.

“I think this is pretty common—that a birthday generates self-reflection—because it makes you think of where you were at in life for your last birthday.”

I think any fellow birthday hater can relate to Olivia.

The idea of a simple day becoming an overwhelming party: a party you wish you could leave, but it is only 8pm and speeches haven’t started.

Year 12 student Siana Siliquini doesn’t hate her birthday, but finds the experience exhausting, and falling ill every birthday for the past two years hasn’t helped her cause.

“My birthday and I have been going through a rough patch the last few years…I guess I try to stay positive, but it can get exhausting, especially because I am usually sick,” Ms Siliquini said.

Ms Siliquini can do what I can’t, and that is finding the positive in the rough.

However, she also agrees the whole gift saga can feel like extra pressure.

Everyone is grateful to receive a gift, and the older you get, the more wonderful it feels to have money spent on you.

My issue with gifts is I feel guilty when my family gives me too generous of a gift or a friend surprises me with something so personal.

It’s lovely to feel cared for, but I also can’t get over feeling undeserving.

“I hate when people ask me for gifts cause I feel it’s very personal and it can cause me to overthink what gift we will both enjoy. I rather do something fun together,” Ms Siliquini said.

I think my birthday lost its appeal the same way Christmas did.

Once the fantasy and self-importance eroded, I was left with a compulsory celebration I’m just not into.

Despite it all, I am totally sure of my ideal birthday: it requires a plane ticket and lots of cake.

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