I’ve had a lot of birthdays. Well, 24 to be exact. And if all goes well, I plan to have many more.
When I turned 1, I was asleep most of the day. There was a Lambchop the Sheep birthday cake, and boy was that cake good… well, I don’t actually know that to be a fact, but it sure looked good in the pictures. I suppose I don’t particularly remember anything from this birthday, but I’ve been told it was quite a hoot celebrating the first year of my existence. My parents couldn’t wait to see what the future would hold for me.
When I turned 7, I watched Toy Story 2 before bed – a tradition of mine. I woke up early in the morning and rushed down the stairs to see my presents waiting to be unwrapped. I went to school and everyone treated me like a queen! I ended up having my birthday party at a pumpkin patch with hay rides and a haunted trail. All my friends were there, and everyone had a blast. I couldn’t wait for my next birthday.
When I turned 13, I was so excited to go to school. All my friends baked me treats and had little gifts, cards, and letters for me. I felt like the coolest gal in town. I had a small party at my house after school where I tried Smirnoff Vodka for the first time – the watermelon flavor. I drank two shots and fell asleep on my floor while my friends played Rockband. I couldn’t wait to do everything teenagers get to do.
When I turned 20, my friends from home came to visit me at college. My new friends, my old friends, and my girlfriend were all together to ring in entering the 20’s with me. We had a party at my apartment and celebrated all night. As the night went on, so did the arguing. “How are you going to fight with me on my birthday?” “It’s my birthday, why are you doing this?” are phrases I distinctly remember saying to my girlfriend at the time. I couldn’t wait for the night to end.
I turn 25 this month, and I’ve realized a lot about birthdays and expectations. Each year, you have a birthday. If you’re like me, you remember distinct details from each one. These details create a sort of expectation and pressure for the next one. I had some phenomenal birthdays growing up, but that wasn’t always the case as I grew older, something many of you likely have experienced. Why do we put pressure on this day? It’s because we’ve done this before, and we’ve done it well before. If we were capable of having an unforgettable birthday one year, why shouldn’t that always be the case? We put this day on a pedestal and pressure on our loved ones to live up to what we’ve experienced before. If we’re going to remember this day forever, then it better be good, right?
And what about the pressure of aging, the pressure of knowing your youth is slipping away and you are not where you thought you’d be? This can be a scary feeling, something that makes birthdays less and less appealing as we age. The idea of presents, cake, and celebration is not as exciting as it once was. We had our whole lives ahead of us back then. Each candle we blew out brought us one step closer to being old enough, and we just couldn’t wait.
Now I’m going to be 25, and I realize I can wait. I can
wait for the great job, the great person, or the great birthday. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. I will enjoy each moment and welcome each setback.
I’m going to be a quarter century old this month, and I can’t wait.