Whether you’re a one-time sufferer or an annual victim, the Birthday Blues eventually come for us all. But no matter how common this emotional phenomenon is, affected folk still feel guilty admitting they’re down about their big day. Birthdays are supposed to be the best, they think – so why do I feel so sad?
Big build-up, big let-down
Those expectations around birthdays being the BEST DAY EVER probably play a role in some people’s birthday blues. Hype can help you get excited but it can also build up expectations beyond what’s realistic. If your birthday was supposed to be all-time but it ends up just being low-key, you may feel let down no matter how lovely it was.
And in addition to the birthday expectations that come from within, there’s all kinds of pressure coming from the people around you. In the lead-up to your birthday, friends, colleagues, family members and even strangers ask you what you’re going to do for your big day. Everyone means well and it’s fun talking about birthday plans, but the constant inquiry, no matter how innocent, makes you feel like you have to have an awesome answer. And if you’d planned on having a quiet one, you may start doubting that what you’re doing is good enough.
Another trip around the sun
At its essence, the birthday is a measurement of time. It marks the years of your life, signalling the end of one and the beginning of another. And while measuring time is super-useful, it sometimes forces you to reflect on what’s happened in that period of time.
If you have a birthday coming up, you may find yourself reflecting on the last year of your life. You might think about the year’s work achievements or relationship milestones, your financial situation, holidays you took and heaps more. And if you don’t think you accomplished enough in that year, you might worry that you wasted it. Suddenly birthdays start feeling like deadlines rather than celebrations and most people don’t go baking cakes for deadlines.
Putting personal relationships to the test
Another common catalyst for the Birthday Blues sits on the social side of things. You probably get heaps of extra attention on your big day – texts, calls, cards, emails, Facebook posts, hugs, presents, cakes! The day is charged with birthday wishes. But what if you don’t get as much attention as you expected to get? It’s hard to quantify that sort of expectation, but you definitely know when things fall short of what you’d hoped for.
And if that happens, it can make you feel socially insecure. You start to question your relationships because you feel like the people you love let you down. Those feelings, no matter how subtle, can be incredibly upsetting.
How to beat the birthday blues
It’s time to reclaim your birthday. Your birthday is just a day, that’s true, but it’s a day that commemorates the day you burst onto the scene. The chances of you being born were slim – very slim. Your mom had hundreds of thousands of eggs and your dad had billions of sperm cells, but somehow that one particular egg ended up with that one particular sperm and you came into existence.
Reclaiming your birthday means making it what you want it to be. Don’t leave it up to everyone else to guess what will make you happy – tell them! Whether it’s planning a big party well in advance or just treating yourself to a day full of your favourite activities with one close friend, make it a day all about doing what makes you happy.
The world changed just a teeny bit the day you were born and that’s something worth celebrating.
Want to know more? Listen to Happy Birthday Podcast Episode 4!
From the statistical leap in birthday deaths to the good ol' Birthday Blues, Jo and Jeremy look at some of the more melancholy aspects of birthdays. We also cover ways to combat these bad birthday side effects, so we hope you'll leave feeling positive despite the somber content.
Listen right here via Podbean or head to iTunes!