I just never understood the concept of a birthday. I didn't understand why people made such a big deal about their own birthdays. And why mine was a big deal, why people I barely knew would make it a point to wish me happy birthday when they knew it was my birthday.
What was the big deal around birthdays? I thought.
I didn't grow up in some foreign country or culture where birthdays aren't celebrated. I grew up in normal America. I should have known.
Whenever my birthday rolled around, especially later in my young adult years (in my twenties), I would go into a state of shock and numbness.
I wasn't even upset. I wasn't even sad. It was beyond that. I was like a corpse, unable to process my birthday, unable to process the concept of a birthday.
That a birthday is about celebrating me.
Clearly, my birthday example illustrates just how little self-worth I had.
I celebrated my birthday when I was thirty and actually felt pretty good about it, but that was more about celebrating the passing of time and milestones and life...still not about celebrating me, and my self-worth. I still hadn't quite grasped this birthday concept yet.
Now I understand. It's been years in the making, but I get it now.
Two specific events really cemented this concept for me.
The first was, last year, on my birthday. I had dinner with a few cousins. I thanked everyone for being there. Then one of my cousins said to me,
"No, thank YOU, for being born."
The second was something Jesse said to me, earlier last year. It left an effect on me, and I couldn't figure out why. The effect kept lingering and lingering. As time went on, the concept gradually seeped into my psyche: your birthday is important.
I had told him that we were going to be celebrating April birthdays in the office later that day with cake and games. Since he was rarely in the office, I figured he didn't know.
Then he asked me if my birthday was in April.
Why did this question feel so weird and personal, I wondered, to myself. Why did I get such a funny feeling when he asked me this?
The answer is...because it IS personal! My birthday is important. I am important.
So, now I get it.
My birthday is August 11. August 11! I no longer feel cold and numb.
I don't think I'll do anything to celebrate it this year. I won't do anything special. On the outside, it will be just like any other day.
But inside, I'll know.
I love this day because it is a reminder of how important I am!
Yay for birthdays! <-- That's something I've never said before.