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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

This Is Why I Don't Celebrate My Birthday...

 Typing this out makes me feel a bit dumb, but assumptions float around in practically everything we do. Even though we should not, everyone makes assumptions, just as everyone cares what someone else thinks about them to a certain extent.  I do and so do you - do not kid yourself.

When someone says they do not celebrate their birthday, most people probably have an image in their head of an angry-eyed, bratty child, pouting with their arms crossed because they are upset about something.
"I don't even want a birthday, dad!"
The other picture that comes to mind is that of the dark "emo" person who is against society, has a personal vendetta factor towards everything, and would rather sulk than be bothered to participate.  At the end of the spectrum is the person who practices some form of religion which forbids secular celebrations.  
Is this what you envision when you hear someone say they do not celebrate their birthday, or certain holidays?  Even I have that imagery going through my own head and do not celebrate my birthday. 
But what is my reasoning for lack of participation in something so basic to western culture if I am not trying to make some sort of statement or doing so because of religion?

Story time...

When I was a child, I was pretty shy as some kids tend to be.  Everyone develops certain traits at different intervals and that was something which took me quite a while to overcome.  During my shy years (which lasted until my early teens) I went to a church that did something which I believe had an effect on the way I see birthdays today.  Before the church service on the week of your birthday, those who conducted the service would make you stand in front of the entire congregation while they sang "Happy Birthday" to you.  I have no idea how that tradition started, but when I was a little kid and nowhere near being out of my shell, this yearly happening mortified me.  If you were reluctant to step forward, someone in the church knew it was your birthday week and would call you out, while everyone egged you on and laughed at you.  Being as reserved and shy as I was during my early years and having to stand in front of a huge group of people like that did not help to bring me out of my shell any more quickly, and I am pretty sure it hindered me a little more instead.  

Let me get one thing straight: this is not some pathetic baggage I have been carrying around since I was five years old, but from ages five to eighteen it did make me dread my birthday every year because I do not like being the center of attention for something essentially outside of my own control (being alive).  
Then we move on to when I had developed a bit...

At age fifteen, I began teaching myself to play guitar.  Within less than a year I was performing and I still do to this day if asked, though I do not go out looking for it anymore.  My shy nature left me when I started performing on a consistent basis and I did not mind having a crowd pay attention to me because I was exhibiting a skill which I was devoted to continually learning.  Birthdays still made me uneasy though, because I was the center of attention for something I had no control over - this is why birthdays make no sense to me.

Two years ago, I took my birth date off my Facebook page because I do not desire the attention.  The last time I "celebrated" my birthday outside of my family was in 2007.  My friend and I went to a sports bar so I could have my first legal drink at midnight.  From that point forward, I stopped mentioning my birthday to people unless they asked and kept my celebrating down to dinner with my family.  Last year I did not even want to go to dinner, but we lumped my sister's, mother's, and my own into one dinner about a month after my birthday.  

This year, I did exactly what I wanted to do on my birthday: nothing.  I am completely content with the way February 3rd, 2014 unfolded.  I woke up, went to work, came home, ate dinner, and went to bed, just like I do every other day.

I have nothing against people who celebrate their own birthdays and I always go to their parties if they ask me.  But I do not celebrate my own because it is not important to me.  Yes, I was turned off a little because of the yearly discomfort it caused as a child, but I am also very much into showing people appreciation in the moment as opposed to it being at a set day of each year.

This is just how I see it and I hate seeking attention I do not feel I deserve having, so until I change my mind, which most likely will not happen, my birthday will be spent as any other day.  Do not feel sorry for me because that is not relevant at all and do not ever think there is a need to tell me "Happy Birthday", as I will think nothing of it if you do not do so but will not be offended if you say it either.  The gesture is still very much appreciated.

If we are close and your birthday is important to you, it is important to me as well, but you have no obligation to acknowledge mine.
It is really okay.
I promise.

Grace and Peace,

 -Add me.  Stalk me.  Tweet me.  I really don't mind.-
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers


  1. Ditto,
    It's a bit like being proud (maybe not the right word) about the weather in your town. You did nothing to cause that haha

    Thanks for this, I think on my upcoming birthday I will do something to celebrate my parents. In reality they are the ones who "achieved" something. That sounds a lot more self-righteous than I mean it to :)

  2. Bravo! Why don't people understand this line of thinking? Another year closer to death is not a reason to celebrate. It's just another day on the calendar.

  3. Hi Drew. I'm 55, female,married and I don't really observe my birthday, either. I haven't for many years.. and took my birth date off of FB just like you did. Probably the last time I had any type of party with friends was when I turned 30. I read an article a few minutes ago that mentioned how "birthdays are pretty boring after you get into the double digits." I think Karl's thinking is spot-on. Thanks for posting.