Perhaps to friends, I treat every one of my birthday as the worst: it starts with the weeks leading to the day when I would announce the dreaded date approaching, and continues on the actual day, when I would force myself to face the greetings and celebrations, and on to later, when I’m back home at night and I wonder once again what I accomplished in the previous year.
At 34, with another birthday coming up a few weeks from now*, I’m at a stage wherein I’m beginning to temper my idealism with reality. The fantasy house, the fantasy job, the fantasy guy, the fantasy life are all but slowly slipping from my grasp as the years ahead (to achieve them) are cut even shorter, and I’ve yet to cope with having to lose—by necessity—my rose-colored glasses.
In my 20s, I knew I was going to settle down at 32. When that deadline expired, I told myself I’d have a family when I’m the same age as my father was when he and Ma had my sister.
That would be now, 34. I think the birthday blues would be even bluer this time.
In my head, I know I deserve a slap in the face for such ungratefulness. I’ve seen and heard enough about contemporaries, some younger than me, whose health or fate in life failed them at such early ages, rendering them out of the race too soon. I know I’m like that annoying contestant on America’s Next Top Model giving up on the competition when eliminated models would kill to be in her place—I can hear Tyra Banks breathing down my neck:
My family and friends have always been my cheerleaders. Every birthday morning, I would receive a message from my parents and sister that expresses just how damn mighty proud they are of me. With the way they gush, you’d think I won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize—as if my very existence is an accomplishment all on its own.
My friends, meanwhile, would all join me for dinner, bearing gifts that are getting more elaborate each year. (Translation: Don’t disappoint me this year—LOOOOOOOL!) The gifts, of course, are beside the point—they are a family to me.
They all have my back. Even with my silly, self-pity birthday nonsense, with them around, I know that the worst birthday is all but inside me, and so I fight back.
*if I’m lucky