Yesterday was my birthday. And as much as I love my birthday, because I love myself and because there is a conceited, self-centered monster trapped behind bars in the dark depths of my mind, my birthday is always to say the least, stressful. Sometimes I think that I would have a lot less worry if I just plan to spend my birthday watching movies by myself and eating chips. Maybe even treating myself to a nice $12 seat in a greasy theater and big screens. But then I’d be just that: BY MYSELF.
But to not make plans means that I will spend my time thinking, and thinking on my birthday means counting how many people I think might actually care that I’ve made it another year. That I’m still alive and breathing. How many people find my existence significant and meaningful. How self-centered is that? The monster bangs its claws against the steel cage and rattles the bars. As introverted as I believe I am, I still enjoy people.
I’ve been pretty lucky. I’m rarely disappointed. My friends, old and new, are awesome. And even though I know they are awesome, I still catch myself feeling surprised that they would grace me with their presence on my birthday. I felt a mixture of gratitude and embarrassment when I walked into Lazy Dog with a large table of people yelling surprise. I didn’t know how to thank everyone or what to say, and I only wanted to laugh at myself because just 30 minutes before I was at the bouldering place asking people if they wanted to eat at Lazy Dog when apparently they already knew they were going to be there. Then there was cake, someone bought me a birthday martini, and just a lot of thank you’s and small talk everywhere. And even though I love gifts, I think I value that so much more. The presence of people who want to be there and them having intentional talks, good food, and a chill time.
There’s no doubt that I’ll feel the same anxiety every year, that my birth, in the grand scheme of the universe, is small and insignificant (which it is). That to celebrate it would be pointless to anybody including myself. I’ll struggle with self-love and acceptance which are things I wish I didn’t care about because I don’t want to have expectations. To expect things is to be selfish. To be selfish is to think I’m bigger than the world. And when I’m humbled and deflated, shrinking back to the human size I’m supposed to be, I will feel disheartened. Sometimes it’s hard to protect myself from a big head.