Why Birthdays Are So Depressing

People are entitled to a few things on their birthday. They’re allowed to become a self-obsesssed monster (“It’s MY birthday!”), treat themselves to a decadent gift (in my case it was a designer backpack this year and no, I don’t want to talk about it), and lastly, they can end the night by getting too drunk and crying about getting older. I know that all of this might sound cliché but I’ve attended enough birthdays in the past few years to know that they all follow some sort of script.  The birthday girl/boy starts the night dressed to the nines in some amazing outfit making predictable comments about feeling old. We all laugh and commiserate with them because we maybe feel the same way too.  As the night wears on, however, their immaculate appearance begins to crumble as they drink more and more and start to reflect on the state of their life. Every grievance you’ve had over the last year is in HD on your birthday and you’ll start to feel bad about things you know you don’t really care about. It’s like a compulsion and obligation to assess every minute thing in your life. Eventually, the birthday boy/girl will resemble a smashed piece of birthday cake and have to be taken home by someone who will hopefully be giving them Birthday Sex later. Oh, speaking of which, that’s another thing you’re entitled to on your birthday. Someone MUST have sex with you. It’s the ultimate D.I.Y. present.

If you’re lucky enough to avoid this and have an amazing birthday, then you’ll take it as a good omen for the rest of the year. If it’s bad, however, it can send you deep down into a fugue and make you question everything—your job, your friends, your romantic life, and your terrifying future. A birthday sometimes feels like life’s way of tapping you on the shoulder and telling you, “Oh my god, you look amazing tonight!!!! But, hi, what the hell is going on with your life? Can I have some cake?””

I never thought I would become this person. I never thought I would be the type of guy who hated his birthday. Growing up, it was practically my favorite day of the year. For my 21st birthday, I think I had five different celebrations. But somewhere between then and now, birthdays became something I just wanted to forget. It’s not even about age so much as it’s about the pressure. Everyone is contacting you and making sure that you are having THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER. Friends want you to go out and get crazy. “Come on, it’s your birthday! You have to go out!” Excuse me, why do you have to do anything on your birthday? Why isn’t it socially acceptable to spend it on your couch watching TV?

Another bummer thing about your birthday is the very real possibility of being disappointed. Even though you claim to have no interest, your birthday still has you by the balls. If someone important  forgets to call and wish you a happy birthday, you’re going to feel upset and then you’re going to be annoyed with yourself because you know it actually doesn’t matter. Someone doesn’t love you any less if they forget to call you on your ~~~SPECIAL DAY~~. You know this intellectually but your birthday has turned you into an emotional slightly insane person. “I don’t care about my birthday. I could care less but wait, why hasn’t my crush contacted me? And it’s 6:00PM and my parents haven’t called me yet. Am I seriously having a Sixteen Candles moment? Thank God I don’t care about my birthday because I would be really bummed right now if I did. I’m so happy that I’m immune to societal pressures and don’t care about my age or my future or anything for that mater! So very glad…”

The cherry on top of your droopy gluten-free vegan nightmare of a birthday cake has to be the fact that no one gives each other gifts anymore. Like at all. People attend birthday parties empty handed all of the time. I get that everyone is broke but I also get that I want a gift card to Bank Of America. Why doesn’t anyone else realize this? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog