Yeah, so tomorrow’s my birthday. Again. I’ve reached that age when I no longer want to tell anyone what it is. Mentally, I feel younger, and physically, I feel we could (sometimes) add 945 to that. Last year was one of those ‘milestone’ years (I’ll keep you guessing if you aren’t heavily invested in this blog to do the maths yourself). In order to not feel as bad about it, I decided to treat myself. At the time, it was torture. It’s taken a year to realise that, hey, maybe it is the best possible thing you can do to tolerate such a depressing event.
It wouldn’t be so depressing if the world didn’t keep reminding me of it. Of the perils, nay, horrors of aging. My skin’s holding up fine, and though my figure’s like Thor in Avengers: Endgame (this is not a spoiler, but yes, if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what I mean), I could pass off for someone who is five years younger. Just as people who are ten years older can pass off as my age. But, that’s not the point. The point is about personal milestones, and now I feel like I can’t even go to my grocery store without coming up with some sort of explanation to the friendly cashier as to why I’m not married yet. Couple that with questions about my age, and you can imagine how I don’t like the idea of being this age.
But, that’s superficial. Nettles at best, causing prickly social encounters. The estimation of a successful birthday always lies with how many people actually care that you still exist. And that is a troubling feeling which sustains throughout the day. By ‘many’ I do not mean I feel validated if fifty or hundred people tell me “Happy Birthday” in person, via text or on the phone. Most people with a Facebook account get that anyway, and sometimes you get messages from people you have no recollection of having ever met. The number is just enough to feel secure, to feel that yes, there is a point to it all. That you are witnessed, wanted, possibly cherished.
And you have absolutely no control over any of that. You are over eight years old, you no longer remind people it’s your birthday, or expect them to turn with cake and/or presents. You’re too cool for that. Birthdays make no difference to you, you are too busy and too secure to think about things like age. At the most, you might go and buy a watch from the store because you have a special discount voucher for your birthday from them. Or, and let’s be honest here, you’ll wonder, “how did I get to this age and accomplish this (i.e. not much)?”
And so, I’m here to give you some advice really, or useful tips on how to blur it all out. Acknowledge it, but have control, and don’t wait around for others to possibly appreciate it. And your mantra, in case you’re a somewhat well-off person with access to a reasonable amount of money is, “treat yourself.”
As I mentioned earlier, I was miserable last year in trying to do this. I actually had a good birthday, and felt very loved. But, because I was being proactive, I went the day before to a mall to buy myself presents, both tangible and intangible. I am a frugal person in general, so not everyone might have this problem as I did, but I didn’t know what to get. Normally, prior to buying anything, whether it’s toothpaste or an insurance policy, I go over it a million times. But, that wasn’t the case here, because I had to make more immediate decisions and I had to get things I didn’t need. I had to get things I’d appreciate if someone else gave them to me. You might call this shallow and wasteful, but the whole point is to do things you normally wouldn’t think of doing for yourself.
I got expensive soap. I didn’t think I was going to, but that part of the store smelt nice and my brain thought, “well, it’s not going to be wasted at least.” And hell yeah, I liked bathing with stuff made out of bits of real orange and apples. I liked putting together and then eating an assorted box of chocolates. Maybe, I never would have found out how chili goes together with chocolate, especially when anyone who knows me knows I run from the former. That’s part of the charm of being proactively nice to yourself – you are gently reminding yourself to step out of your comfort zone. And let’s admit it, being unconditionally nice to yourself is out of most of our comfort zones.
There was other stuff as well, stuff I continue to appreciate a year on. I decided to do the same this year too, but I thought I’d plan it out a bit instead of blindly going to a store with a credit card (which yours truly NEVER, NEVER does and will NEVER, NEVER recommend you to do). However, I didn’t get time to do much, especially the intangible things i.e. experiences, though I did make a ‘Birthday Wishlist’ and added and knocked off things from it for the past few weeks. Even the process of it felt nice and rewarding. However, after having thought about the clutter in my life (as I’m sure most of us have in the past few months), I decided to get things that are mostly temporary.
I got a box of assorted Pukka tea bags, caramel coffee, box of assorted chocolate bars and a fountain pen. That sounds like a treat already, right? The wishlist had pricier, more adventurous stuff, but in the end I decided to go for things that were comforting. In case I get anxious or depressed, tea and chocolate can help, eh?
And that’s my overall message here, my wisdom gained from all these years of surviving this planet. Go easy on yourself, and the world. There are very few events in life that are as earth-shattering as you expect them to be. I grant you that there are some, but unless there is a literal earthquake on your birthday (and strangely, that has happened a few times to me), your birthday is not one of them. I know I won’t feel a 100% great every minute of the day tomorrow, but then it will be the 7th, and it would have passed. And that’s that.
How do you treat yourself?