My birthday was a week ago. I had a lovely day filled with birthday wishes via email, Facebook, text and phone calls. There was a BBQ at my parents’ house where I was able to hang out with my family, which is one of my favourite things to do. The day ended perfectly because I got to to watch my beloved Blue Jays play baseball.
As I was thinking about birthdays in general, I realize they are an interesting yearly celebration our society created. It is a day where one can be completely selfish and celebrate themselves with friends and family while receiving gifts. And this all happens simply because the person was born on that day, which if you think about it, being born is not a difficult or amazing feat. Really we should be celebrating our mothers on our birthdays because they’re the ones who endured the pain and hardship of labour and giving birth to bring us into this world. They did all of the work. We just showed up screaming.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate birthdays. Birthdays are not just a celebration of that single individual, but they are a celebration of life, which is a precious thing
As a kid, birthdays are super exciting; you get to eat cake and candy, have all of your friends over and open presents. It’s a day to make a chîld feel extra special, to show them how happy you are that they exist.
Some adults respond to their birthdays in the same way as children; they get excited and throw themselves big parties. Multiple presents are of less importance in adulthood, but the chance to be the centre of attention for a full day and have everyone praise you is something many adults relish.
Then there are those who view their birthdays negatively. They cringe at getting older and finding another gray hair. They study their face endlessly for the appearance of a wrinkle or age spots. They despise having their age go up by one.
Some get depressed around their birthdays. They focus on what they don’t have, what goals they have failed to achieve, the losses they endured. They see their birthday as another year passing by where they didn’t accomplish anything. They bury themselves in shame because they are not where they thought they would be by “this” age.
Birthdays can bring a lot of stress and pressure for many.
In the past I’ve experienced everything I’ve described above at different birthdays. However, now I see things differently.
When my birthday comes along I embrace it with such gratitude that I am alive another year. There was a time that I never thought I’d make it to my 30s. I was speeding down the road of self-destruction in my early 20s and really didn’t believe I’d see past 25.
So now, I am grateful for every birthday that comes, every day that I get older. Because I once thought I wouldn’t make it this far.
And while I could easily use my birthdays to focus on what I haven’t done and where I haven’t gotten to, I instead choose to focus on what I have done. I choose to focus on what I’ve learned, how I’ve grown and who I’ve helped.
But I don’t want to just do that once a year on my birthday. I want to do it every day. I want to treat everyday like my birthday where I can wake up excited that I have another day.
I want to embrace each day with joy and gratitude.
I want to learn from where I’ve been, but then focus on where I am going.
I want to celebrate life.
And I want you to celebrate it with me, every single day.
You can focus on the failures, hurts and betrayals of yesterday, or you can embrace what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown and move forward with excitement and anticipation.
You can linger in the anger of days gone by, and let that anger set the tone of your tomorrow, or you can choose to forgive, let go, and put a smile on someone else’s face.
Treat every day like it’s your birthday.
Celebrate that you are alive and opportunity lays before you.
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