My Anxiety Gets Worse Around My Birthday

A girl on her birthday
Unsplash /
Nik MacMillan

I hate birthdays — and not only because I’m growing older and freaking out over all of the things I have failed to accomplish so far. Not only because it’s a reminder that I haven’t reached my fullest potential yet. Not only because it makes me feel like I should have done more by this age.

I feel like, every single year, I end up disappointed. I have this unrealistic imagine in my head about what the day will hold and when it arrives it never goes down as expected.

Birthdays remind me of how few friends I have. It’s hard to plan an outing when there aren’t many people to invite over. It’s hard to get excited about what I am going to do when I know there won’t be many Facebook messages on my wall, let alone texts on my phone wishing me a happy birthday.

My birthday is the one time when I should feel filled with love — but the opposite happens. It makes me feel even more alone. Like even more of an outcast. Like there isn’t anyone who really cares.

Instead of appreciating the people who took the time to wish me a happy birthday, I waste my thoughts on all of the people who didn’t even remember (or who needed a Facebook reminder in order to jog their memory). My birthday is my annual reminder that I care about most people more than they care about me.

The worst part about birthdays is that they come with so much pressure. Pressure to have fun. Pressure to hang out with friends. Pressure for this one specific day to be better than all of the others.

My anxiety gets worse around my birthday because I feel like I’m supposed to be planning some big event to celebrate my existence. Each year, I can never figure out what to do and then get upset about how I’m not going to do anything except sit home in my bed.

But I try to set plans anyway. I attempt to create the perfect night for myself, even though I know it isn’t going to work out when the time comes. Friends will cancel on me. Family will start arguments with me. Something always goes wrong. Nothing ever works out the way I imagine in my head — and I spend a lot of time imagining scenarios in my head.

Even if I actually find plans, even if I have a bunch of people willing to spend the night with me, I become anxious in a different way. The idea of people singing to me around a cake makes my cheeks red. I don’t want to be the center of attention (even though a part of me is dying to be the center of attention). I would rather blend into the background. I would rather not have eyes trained on me.

My anxiety gets worse around my birthday because it’s the one time of year when everyone expects me to have a good time — and I’m not good at meeting expectations. TC mark

The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved.

You don’t have to solve your whole life tonight. You just have to show up and try. Focus on the most immediate thing in front of you. You’ll figure out the rest along the way.

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