This month, I turn twenty-five. Since I already had the mid-twenties crisis last year (which was essentially just accepting I was definitely in my mid-twenties without much to show for), I figured this month I would use my post to reflect on birthdays as a whole.
I don’t like my birthday. At least, that’s what I’ve told people for years.
I have not felt the same excitement I perceive others having for their birthday in years (maybe never?).
If anything, I’d prefer people not to know when my birthday is.
Perhaps one reason is that my birthday has never felt isolatedly special. I’m not a twin—no one shares my birthday—but my brother, who’s seven years older than me, has a birthday the day before mine. The fact itself has always been more fun than my birthday itself.
Between the age gap, few shared interests, him being the older one, and his birthday being the first one, it felt like his birthday always took precedence (which it literally does).
In recent years, I’ve managed to do smaller, fun things, thanks almost entirely to my girlfriend who loves planning, but they’re still something I approach with guarded optimism.
One friend hypothesized this was because I am afraid of aging, and while I can see this being a contributing factor, I don’t see it as the main one. While turning twenty-four was a little unsettling, I don’t normally have a crisis when my age flips up an extra digit.
Most people who have come in and out of my life don’t even know when my birthday is. It’s the curse of having a summer birthday, homeschooling most of my life, and then switching schools every year from eighth grade through my junior year of high school.
Throughout my childhood, there was simply no one to celebrate with.
In recent years, I have wondered why I avoid my birthday more than I embrace it. The turbulence of my teenage years has long since settled. Why is this event still something I’d rather not deal with?
I think the easy explanation is I just don’t like birthdays. Some people are just like that. I never had the burning excitement as a child because it wasn’t something I was interested in.
But that’s too easy. There has to be a greater underlying reason why I don’t enjoy something akin to Christmas to other people—something people wait in great anticipation for 360 for (coincidently I don’t like Christmas either, so maybe it is that simple).
The dramatic answer is being adopted has made me associate my birth with being given up for adoption and is a negative experience for me, but I struggle to think this has any merit. It’s not like I treat my adoption day like others treat their birthday.
A middling reason might be a cumulation of experiences. I don’t remember my birthdays as a child. There was only one birthday party I can think of on the birthdays I do remember. Maybe there was a time when birthdays were exciting, but the years of constant adjustment where birthdays came and passed wiped the shine off the day itself.
I hoped writing this would help me come to an answer, but honestly, I still don’t have a reason. I’m not really sure I need a reason. I’m not the only person who doesn’t care much about their birthday. People approach this day in a myriad of ways, from over-gratuitous parties to treating them as non-events.
But that doesn’t mean I have to hate them. Over the past few years, we’ve bowled, made katsu and adobo, and gotten drinks at Uccello’s.
I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where I’m broadcasting my impending birthday (I’m still not telling you when it is in this post). I don’t care to get showered with presents or an abundance of messages, but I think I’m getting to the point where I look forward to the events we do.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Juliescribbles (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Mitchell Barbee graduated from Calvin University with a B.A. in writing in 2021. Originally from Boone, North Carolina, he is currently residing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He enjoys hanging out with the few friends who stayed, wearing grey hoodies, and hoping that he doesn’t get sucked into the nightly wormhole of watching a baseball game.