Thursday, May 17, 2012
When we are young, our birthday is like 4th of July, Christmas, and the last day of school all wrapped into a ice cream cake of your favorite animated character. We are guaranteed one day out of the year to have more friends than the day before. Parents feel obligated and responsible to make you feel like the only nugget in the world. They will make endless sacrifices to throw you a party and to make sure you have a full choir singing while you blow out your candles. Even if you bully little Jimmy every single day during recess, he will be there. Before you know it, both friends and enemies are gathered around you in birthday hats resembling little Glee rejects as they sing the ever so famous song, "Happy Birthday".
As each year passes, we look forward to the next birthday more and more. We continue to hit important milestones; 10 (double digits), 13 (officially a teenager), 15 (you are now too cool for your parents), 16 (driver's license), 18 (smoking, porn, sex, some think you can drink), 20 (no longer a teenager), 21 (finally, you can buy your own alcohol... all older siblings look forward to this birthday more than you do)... At least these are the things my peers looked forward to. Today, I think kids truly believe their 13th birthday means they can have sex, drink, smoke, and do drugs (Thank you Teen Mom for being such a great influence).
It's the craziest thing, but at some time during that drunken slumber that is your 21st birthday, the excitement for next year loses it's magic. "What now?" settles in as you begin to reflect on the past 21 years of your life. This is probably when I personally questioned if I was where I wanted to be. Waking up in my bed (no bed frame so that shit was really on the floor) in Athens, Ohio with markings from every bar on my hands. I was ok with that! And if you've ever spent some time in Athens, you would be too.
In a few days I will be turning 24. Not really a sexy birthday. Just one year closer to the dreaded 30 (until I am turning 34, then 40 will become the new most dreadful). I think birthdays tend to lose their magic because as we age, we begin to question past decisions we have made. Would we rather be living a different life? When little Jimmy was whispering Happy Birthday when your cake only had 10 candles, is this how you pictured your life to turn out? In most cases it is not.
When we are young, our milestones for each birthday surround aspects of life we are not legally permitted to do because of our age. We have certain life restrictions. The older we get, these restrictions disappear. So our personal goals and aspirations are readily available for us to reach. The room for excuses as to why you are not living the life you want and pursuing your passion is minimal. I guess the older we get, the blame solely rests on our shoulders. This scares us.
I have never been overly excited to celebrate my birthday. To me it has always been just another day that happens to end with a fork full of birthday cake. I understood that increasing my current age by 1 would not change the person I am or the mountains I can reach. It is a reason to be thankful for the blessings I have had in the past and to be anxious for what is to come. I don't need candles. I don't need a clown. I don't even need you to sing me Happy Birthday. I just hope to continue to become a better person this upcoming year.
24 will be a hell of a ride and I'm proud to say I will be driving. I welcome both friends and enemies to join me. You are my motivation!
And thanks to songs such as "Birthday Sex" and Rihanna's "Birthday Cake", birthdays are making a comeback for us elderly!
Cake, cake, cake, cake, cake, cake...