Happy Birthday To You?

Today my supervisor surprised me with a small container of cupcakes from the local bakery as an early birthday gift, since she wouldn’t be in the office on Monday. I was completely taken aback by her actions, but I guess I shouldn’t have, when just a few short weeks after getting the job, she returned from her vacation from Italy with a little keepsake for me.

As I sat at my desk and continued my work day with my cupcakes in plain view (cause realistically, there were was nowhere else to put them) I heard one of my co-workers come up and ask who’s birthday it was, for my other co-worker to assert that my birthday is on Friday. I was then offered a “Happy Birthday” to which my other co-worker requested the person saying it take it back, because it’s bad luck to wish someone a happy birthday prior to their birthday (is that really a thing?).

Regardless, as I sat at my desk after this little exchange all I could think about was my past birthdays.

I think one of the reasons I haven’t been able to really enjoy my birthday these past few years is because I’ve been sitting around waiting for people to celebrate me for me. I think back to my days prior to high school and the sheer excitement I had for my birthday then. It was before friends’ bought gifts for you at school and before any of them made a big deal about it being your day, because that Saturday, you were going to have a birthday party. The only person really celebrating you birthday then, was you. It didn’t matter if everyone went out of their way to make your day special, as long as you got to do something that made you feel special on your day.

But high school changed that perception for me. My high school was the local florist shop’s favorite customer, because day after day, week after week, month after month, my peers would buy flowers from them and then walk up the hill and present them to their peers, on their birthdays. There wasn’t a birthday that went by, that wasn’t celebrated with the girl, who’s day it was, being presented with more flowers than she could carry through the hallways. And if she was popular enough, balloons tied to her locker.

What it came down to honestly, was a popularity contest. A popularity contest that I wasn’t even a contestant in. Maybe my friend’s didn’t have money to waste on flowers that while appreciated in that moment, would dye a few days later and I would be forced to walk around with all day, drawing attention to everyone that it was my birthday. Or maybe it was one of those high school traditions that my friends just didn’t see a need to participate in.

Regardless, I was flowerless for those four years on my birthday.

And then college came around and what should have made things better, only sort of made them worse. My freshmen year, my parents didn’t even come to visit me on my day. Instead, they sent me an edible arrangements and no fuss was given to my day. My sophomore year, my roommates all went home for the weekend and my boyfriend at the time didn’t even come to visit. Granted, I trekked it down to NY to spend a day with him and get a tattoo, that was the extent of him celebrating my birthday with me. My parents, again, didn’t make the commute to see me. If it wasn’t for one of my best friends showing up, treating me to lunch, and then taking me to a party with her that evening, I would have spent my day alone in my room, playing the Sims. My junior year, my parents came to visit me and I also discovered I was pregnant. Again, no real fuss or celebration of any sort. And then senior year, I went to dinner with my ex, went to a club (where I had no fun and just wanted to leave), and then got extremely drunk because my friends were determined to make me laugh and smile (I was going through a bad breakup).

By the time college ended, all I wanted was one redeeming birthday. One day or weekend were everyone catered to me and celebrated me.

My first year out of college, me and one of my best friends hit the town. What was originally supposed to be a large group outing, just turned into the two of us. And while I was slightly disappointed by it, what we did that weekend made up for the lack of company. My following birthday, we went to a club, I had a more decent size group of friends there to help celebrate me, but aside from that, I can’t remember that weekend.

And now, all I can think about is how high school and a bit of college, screwed me over when it came to enjoying my day and being excited about it. But this year will be different. For the first time in a while, I’m truly excited about my day, and maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m not the one planning everything or trying to make it into something and leaving it entirely in the hands of someone else.

And even if things don’t go off without a hitch, I won’t let this preconceived notion that high school had me develop, ruin anymore of my birthdays.

(At least that’s the goal anyway.)

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