Tag Archives: Birthdays

Fear and Loathing on my 34th Birthday Sucks

Well, today is sadly June 22 and I’m officially thirty-four years old. I suppose this isn’t quite true until 9:50 a.m. but still, close enough. I’m thirty-four, and what does all of this even mean?

Probably nothing but I still can’t shake the dirty feeling that overtakes you when turning a year older, especially while in your thirties. It’s a mix of emotions that is hard to really process and make sense of. I feel old, but in a strange and unclear way. Not like old-old where I’m going to die soon and not old where I know it’s well past time to work on my goals and dreams. No, it’s like an intermediate old where you know time is running out and it’s about time to get working on your dreams and goals because it’s about past time when you can actually do these things. Over this time it’s time to settle down and find comfort in your life, relax, and reap the seeds you’ve sowed in your teens and twenties. But what if, like me, you haven’t sown any seeds? What if you’re still cruising through life at the ripe age in the mid-thirties still not knowing what you want to actually do in life? What if you’re so misguided that you still feel mentally like a damn teenager where the world still doesn’t make sense? At the cusp of my thirty-fourth birthday this is how I feel: like someone who should have everything figured out but who feels as dumb and clueless as they did nearly twenty years ago.

It’s hard to not shit all over yourself during times of reflection like these. They naturally led your mind to the thought of, “What have I accomplished? What does my life mean?” and I regretfully come up with nothing notable to mention. Thirty-four. Say it again. I’ve had thirty-four years to figure out what the hell my life means, what I want to do, and haven’t came to anything notable. Halfway to thirty-four? Seventeen. Still as clueless as I am now, but still somehow younger, naive, and more full of potential that I still haven’t realized. Fuck, halfway during my current life I was seventeen: Fuck. I don’t know how to even process that. It seems so long ago but yet still so familiar because I’m still the same person really. I feel just as I did halfway through my life years ago: still clueless, still lost, but with some hope that the future might clear something up for me. Protip: It Didn’t. I won’t. Time doesn’t clear shit up for anyone. If you’re in your teens and twenties and vibing with what I’m writing, you’re in for some shit. You’re just like me. You’ll never figure it out, you’ll never know what you want to do. And you better find solace in this fact wherever you can.

I project forward to when sixty-eight years old: the point that I’m halfway towards. I remember being twenty and projecting forwards to forty. There was still plenty of time between forty and the probable end of my life so it wasn’t a big deal. But now being halfway to sixty-eight? Doesn’t the average American male die at seventy-four? Seriously, I’m likely halfway through my life and haven’t accomplished a damn thing really. Fuck. This is scary. Halfway. I’m here. This is it. Time to clear shit up and get my stuff in order. Finish the race on a strong note.

Let’s also not forget that my lifestyle will probably kill me well before I reach seventy, and sometimes I’m worried I’ll die before I’m fifty or fourty. And how do you deal with that fact that you could be 80% finished with your life at thirty-four years old?

As much as I love self-hatred, I still can’t get over some aspect of loving myself. I still think I have something to offer the world — that I’m special in some way — and that I haven’t realized how to channel it yet. It’s a struggle of how to view yourself that I can’t fully explain. I just can’t get over the fact that, yes, I might have something special and meaningful to offer the world and I just can’t seem to realize it and capitalize on it. Like I have all the talents needed to make something of my life but just can’t seem to put it all together into something useful. Like I’ve squandered any gifts that have been given to me and after thirty-four years I still can’t realize how to use the gifts that are somehow inherently what makes me, Jeremy, unique and special.

It leads to a feeling of uselessness: if I haven’t discovered this in thirty-four years, why would I learn it in the next year? The next five? The next ten? Or even the next thirty-four years when I’m likely to be near the end of my life? My life seems to be a mess of squandering anything good given to me in some twisted form of self-destruction. I could’ve been an airline pilot by now had I made the right choices. Hell, I could’ve been anything by now had I made the right choices. But what am I? Some blogger dude who works at UPS, still struggling and floundering to do something notable in the face of total failure that can’t seem to be proud of anything he has accomplished. Today is my thirty-fourth birthday, and it’s going to be a bland day indeed. Another day, another orbit around the sun, and another year of not doing a goddamn thing to further myself. Another day and year to squander my gifts. So, cheers, here’s to another year on the planet Earth…

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.