The first and last birthday party that I remember from my childhood was when I turned 10 years old. I still remember the clothes I wore: hot pink ballerina flats, hot pink tights, white fluffy skirt above the knee, pink blouse with ruffles and lace, and to make my ugly look stand out even more, I wore a hot pink headband with a huge flower on it (just because it was the style those days).
Many guests travelled hours to come to my party, which made me feel quite special, but when it was time to sing happy birthday, I wanted to disappear. Since then, I never liked birthday parties. Up to a few years ago, I thought it was because of my shyness. There is nothing wrong with birthday parties or with a normal ‘Happy Birthday!’ – I thought– but for some reason, I couldn’t stand them. I was good at pretending. As an adult, every time someone threw me a party, I smiled and thanked everyone for being a part of my day. But I felt out of place the whole time. One day I stopped pretending and told everyone how I truly felt. The tables were nicely decorated with flower arrangements.
This was not normal for a usual Thursday meeting. I realised this had all been prepared for me. I built up the courage and let everyone know how I truly felt. “Please, I do not want a party and I do not want anyone singing happy birthday. Thank you for this but you can cut the cake now.” After those words came out of my mouth, I felt really bad. I was a little harsh and they did not deserve it. But you know when you pretend to like something for a long time, one day will just be the last straw … you can’t think straight, and you react on it. Well this is what happened. They did not know what to do … Poor girls, they did not deserve it. It was like taking off a band aid. It hurt at first, but then I never have to do it again. Now, I just let everyone know: “Please, I don’t like surprises. If you try surprising me, I’ll be very upset”. However, what does this have to do with you?
How many times do you put up with something you don’t like just to please others? Sometimes you don’t want to buy a gift for someone’s birthday, but because she gave you a gift on your birthday or because everyone around you is giving her a gift, you feel obliged to do the same. My question is: What is the meaning of that gift? Is it something that shows how much you care or was it something you did because of an obligation? And what happens when one friend’s birthday is today and another friend’s birthday is on the weekend? If you give a gift to one, you have to give to the other. And if you just give to one of them, the other will be upset with you. Oh, the pressure! When you give a gift as an obligation, you are taking the whole meaning and purpose out of giving the gift in the first place. Today, I only wish happy birthday to those who I give a gift to, not that those who don’t receive a gift from me are forgotten. They are on my calendar and I consider them as well, but I can’t always give them a gift.
So I prefer not to say anything, since it will not make a difference anyway. I have received inexpensive gifts that I consider very valuable because they came from people that really wanted to give them. They may not be able to give me expensive gifts, but you can see the love in their gift, when most of the time they don’t have the means to buy something like that for themselves- that speaks louder than words! Still, I don’t need my birthday to feel special. Every day is my day. I like to grow older but I don’t like to celebrate getting older. Get it? Let’s stop fulfilling obligations and be ourselves because that is more than enough.