Birthdays Suck: Part Two

Now that the first part post is finished, posted, and part of history I can move onto the real cerebral reasons as to why birthdays fucking suck. In case you didn’t read part one it was basically me bitching about how bad my birthday was just because it was a generally shitty day. Any day that went the way it did would suck, it just happened to also be my birthday. I was tired, insomnia-and-anxiety-stricken, felt like an ex-coke head (I imagine), and was all-around miserable. Now onto the actual reasons for birthdays sucking.

The first thing to complain about is the arbitrariness of celebrating a year of life. If you get down to it we could celebrate every day (or week, or month, or whatever) we’re alive but that would lead us to unnecessarily high numbers rather quickly. For example I’m apparently 12,058ish days old, but that number doesn’t mean very much because it doesn’t give you any reference frame to compare it to. We all know what a year is so when you say someone is 25-years-old you have a good idea what it means. An 9-year-old might be is likely an immature brat while a 90-year-old is likely frail as fuck and about to die. A year makes good enough sense and I don’t know what else we could use to measure age. But where does a year come from anyways?

Age is just counting how many orbits you’ve personally made around the sun after you appeared outside your mom. A year makes intuitive sense with seasons and stuff like that, but when you think of it as “laps completed around the sun” it seems rather strange. Think of most of our laws that are age-based: you can’t drink alcohol unless you’ve orbited the sun 21 times. You can’t vote for our country’s leaders until you’ve done 18 laps around the sun. And if you’ve orbited the sun 67 times you don’t need to work anymore.

A key gripe here is that laps around the sun doesn’t equate to actual knowledge, wisdom, or anything important really. Some ten-year-olds could probably operate a car as well as an adult, and some adults shouldn’t be allowed to vote or drink no matter how old they are. I don’t know how we would set an age for “wisdom” and have it actually mean anything, but ideally it would be a better measurement than solar orbits. A 25-year-old could be a successful millionaire or a heroin addict and the only similarity these people would share is the fact that they’ve orbited the sun 25 times. This just further makes the idea of a birthday seem kinda meh as age itself is a poor “progress of life” counter or whatever. 

Also the fact that we celebrate the day we came out of our mom’s vagina seems kinda…strange when you word it that way. Obviously this exempts people who were born via c-section but even that is celebrating the day you were cut out of your mom’s womb. I mean it makes sense to use that as the “starting point” of your life, but it’s also kinda strange. You could also use the point of conception as your “birthday” I suppose, and I’m kinda surprised that pro-lifers haven’t jumped on that idea yet. I mean I did exist in some form 8 months before I was actually born. (Getting all deep and shit I’ve existed — my atoms at least — since the universe began. Woah. mind-blown.gif) By giving you a “birthday” on the day you were conceived you’d seem more an actual person than “a fetus” would; this would play right into the “life begins at conception” idea. (Really if they take up that idea and actually go with it I’ll be really upset. Like I was joking guys don’t take it seriously.)

Outside of all that bullshit, birthdays also suck because I’m an adult. I just turned 33 (in case you didn’t want to do the math with my age in days earlier) and anyone within ten years of 33 will know that it’s not an important birthday by any stretch of the imagination. 33 is an age where nothing actually happens while the closest “special” birthday is 30, followed by 40. But the 40-year birthday is going to be a ton more dismal than 30 was. I got seven years to go and I already know that fact. But before that? 21. Because you can drink at 21.

We all know birthdays are cool as a kid, and to a lesser extent as a teenager, mostly because you get shit you want. As a kid you are showered in toys and birthdays/Christmases are great opportunities to get the things you want. This is especially important given your paltry $10/week allowance that makes it impossible to get the really good shit you want. These gifts gave you something to look forward to on your birthday and made the day special. As you age these gifts magically disappear and the day becomes a mundane affair.

Teenagers get the “gift” of knowing they’re making progress through life: at 13 you’re finally a teenager, at 15 (in Illinois at least) you can get a driver’s learning permit, at 16 you can get an actual license, at 17 you can go see rated-R movies (Not a big deal. The shitty teenager birthdays are 14, 17, and 19.), and at 18 you’re an actual fucking adult! The “progress factor” of your birthday quickly tapers after that. At 20, well, you’re 20, and at 21 you can drink. That’s it. At 24 (I think) you finally get booted off your parents insurance if you’re attending college so no one cares about that, and at 25 you can run for congressional office (yay!). Then 30, 40, 50…blah blah.

Even if teenagers might not get really cool gifts and experience the fun that birthdays as a kid used to hold, they still get to feel like they’re getting somewhere in life. Hell, even senior citizens sort of get this “birthday glory” back as they can look forward to retirement age or getting fucking senior discounts at restaurants and shit. Somehow I don’t think I will be very enthusiastic about that crap when I’m that age (if I’m alive). Also your impending death kinda puts a damper on things for you.

Remember when I mentioned something about “progress in life?” Well, for me at least, that’s a major downside for birthdays. Birthdays give me that “looking back on life” thing that New Year’s usually does to me (and the 4th of July as well…) and I don’t know if it’s me or if everyone deals with it. It definitely gets worse as you get older as well. As you get a year older on your birthday it becomes a perfect time to process that you are in fact a year older and that, well, you’re getting older. It’s natural to look back at all the time and think of what you’ve accomplished, or in my case, what I haven’t accomplished.

I remember leaving high school and knowing that I was only 18 and that I had plenty of time to actually do something with my life. The day I graduated I went to my grandma’s and planted grass. A day as notable as graduating high school was capped off by quaintly planting grass in the afternoon with no thought given to my future. At my 30th birthday I really realized that “hey, I haven’t done a fucking thing yet. What am I doing?” and I resolved to actually get off my ass and do something, but progress has been slow.

My supervisor pointed out that some people accomplish their life’s work at a late age. Late-bloomers and all. Charles Darwin was near 50 when he published his landmark book on evolution so compared with him I still have 17 years to do my thing. I don’t like that mindset though because it seems easy to use as a crutch to justify not doing anything to myself. It’s the same “I got time” mindset that ended up wasting most of my 20s. I think I need the self-loathing and anxiety that birthdays bring to keep me moving forward, even if the self-loathing is pretty shitty.

This is almost made worse by well-meaning family members who want to see me have an amazing birthday. This creates a dichotomy where people are being very enthusiastic and joyful about my birthday where I’m just feeling like shit about it. It almost makes it worse because if all of these people are happy about my birthday, why the hell aren’t I? I just makes me hate myself more because I’m feeling shitty about getting older and not doing anything with my life while everyone else is yelling at me to be happy because it’s my birthday! Blow out the candles and make a wish!

I don’t know if other people feel the pressure of time on their birthday, but for me it is inseparable from the day itself. Any fun, positivity, and celebration is always outweighed by my constant looking back/forward and it makes the day depressing no matter what happens. It’s one of those things I wish I could shut off but it has been lingering around for every birthday and New Year that I’ve since being a teenager. This sucks because the idea of a single day being your birthday when you “turn a year older” is silly as time is constantly moving forward; there isn’t really one day that you age but this day still drags me down and makes me feel like shit about my life. Couple this with the fact that birthdays are generally bland and pointless when you’re in your late 20s and 30s (and onward I’m assuming) makes any upcoming birthday something to dread and avoid. Like I want to shut my phone off and deactivate my Facebook page until it’s over in an attempt to make the day as normal as possible. It’s like a storm to hide from or something. So yeah, birthdays suck.

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