Birthday Blues


Sheyla O'Donnell, Staff Writer

          Birthdays are synonymous with a joyful celebration of someone’s birth. But, has anyone ever had that sinking feeling of being sad on your birthday? No matter how many people wish you a happy birthday, you can’t seem to be jovial. You wake up, and it takes a few moments to realize that it’s your birthday. It’s the one day that permits you to be as selfish as you wish. It is the one day where kindness is expected from people.

          Plans are made, the cake sits there waiting to be eaten, and presents are ripe for unwrapping. And, you’re expected to do it all with a pleasant grin on your face. But, as you wake up, you just aren’t happy. It’s not as if you laid to rest the night before and chose to be despondent on the anniversary of your birth. 

         By nature, humans are not constantly happy. Emotions vary, as do humans. There is no singular emotion to allow yourself to feel. It is more abnormal if one was to be unceasingly gleeful through the peak of their highs and the bottom of their lowest of lows. Having various emotions throughout your days, even just a few hours, is healthy. And, to assume every birthday is joyous is the definition of being naive. 

          A birthday is not unlike any other day of the 365 days we orbit the sun. And as we all have our good days and our bad days, being sad on your birthday is not that rare. Therefore, feeling any emotion other than joy on one’s birthday should be normalized. 

          Putting one emotion on a pedestal and declaring it the seemingly “right way” to feel is wrong. To put it in perspective, if one was to act as if those with a more extensive bank account were more superior to those with less money, their mindset is indisputably unethical. 

           While being happy from the start of your birthday morning is far more pleasant, it is never guaranteed that you won’t ever feel happy during the day if you didn’t start the day joyously. Maybe the person you’ve been in love with since fifth grade wishes you the happiest of birthdays, and even though your best friend said it the same way, it just means more coming from them. Or, your closest confidante shows you just how much they love you on that day because even though you kept your morose feelings secret, they still knew. 

          Or, maybe, you go through the whole day, and you just can’t seem to get out of this funk that acts as a foreboding rain cloud over your head, and you go to sleep still stuck in feeling sad. That’s just as fine as being the happiest person on Earth. 

         I turned fifteen around a month ago. I had anticipated this birthday ever since I realized there was a strong possibility of having a birthday party. My father and I have a tradition to joke around and mention our “birthday month.” His birthday is on the first of September, and we end up celebrating our shared birthday month on that day. I dream about how my day will go throughout the month, the presents I’ll receive, and the cake I will eat.

          My birthday fell on a Wednesday, and I had already celebrated it with a party with my closest friends. We enjoyed cake and s’mores, and I reveled in the attention I received on that divine day. 

       But as my birthday arrived, I woke up with a sense of dissatisfaction. Scrolling through the many “happy birthday” texts couldn’t make me happy. Even reading the one text from the boy I’ve crushed on for years did not improve my mood. I left the school with no homework, cross country practice was canceled, and we had many riveting plans set to happen after school, yet I still felt unhappy. 

        I opened my presents with feigned excitement and didn’t begin to feel joy until the end of the night. But then, I looked around and realized just how privileged I was. How lucky I was to share my special day with a loving family and close friends. 

         Even though I arose that morning with the emotions of one who was crestfallen, I fell asleep with a grin on my face. So, even though I had high expectations for my birthday and assumed that I would be nothing but joyful, I wasn’t. But, I allowed myself to feel every emotion I had until I got over my sadness. Finally, I permitted myself to have that one day of despondency and ended the week very positively. So, if you ever feel wrong for feeling anything but happiness on your birthday, do not fret and do not be too hard on yourself because I promise you everyone has felt it. You will get through your funk and be happy you allowed yourself to handle all of your feelings and come out more content in the end.