We are all familiar with it, but I would coin the term as “The Birthday Tantrum”. It’s a syndrome I use to describe people who have an undeserving and very often, unattainable expectation on how they think they should be treated or what they think they deserve. It is especially evident on special days like anniversaries, birthdays and festive occasions. You know what I’m talking about, girlfriends threatening break-ups because their boyfriends didn’t buy their favourite colour of flowers for their Valentine’s bouquet. Hah! We’re all too familiar with that scene.
Surprisingly, the writer (aka me) isn’t a frustrated victim trying to rant all about some self-conceited friend I am totally sick of. In fact, I used to be the master of Birthday Tantrums. And I guess the purpose of this blog post is to remind myself that I will never allow myself to even come close to becoming who I hated I was.
In my early years, I was very fortunate. I was born with a silver spoon so I had everything I asked for. Being the youngest, I was the apple of my family’s eye and I had the most altruistic siblings who willingly shared everything with me. My mom always said how I used to be so honey-tongued; generously showering compliments to everyone I meet so I was naturally well-liked everywhere I went, from teachers, friend’s parents, parent’s colleagues to canteen vendors who knew me by name and always gave me treats. So my blissful childhood kinda laid the foundation of my warped expectations later on in my teenage years.
While I was still foolishly basking in the luxury I had, the tables were turned, and my life took a downhill turn too. My family hit rock bottom in the recession, and everything was gone almost overnight. What’s left? What’s left is a girl still fantasizing about no-longer-affordable princess dresses and bugging my mom that I wanna go back to our big multi-levelled house, that I don’t wanna squeeze, four in a room.
And so for a large part of my teenage years, I didn’t enjoy my birthdays very much. Not just because I was receiving gifts of lower monetary value than before, but also because I was too obsessed entertaining thoughts of what I think I deserve to receive. Now someone remind me who the heckkkk owed me in their previous life?
I was very unhappy. To the point I started to question myself, why do I deserve to be treated like a princess on my birthday. No answer. Next question, what is the meaning of a birthday? A day of the year marked in remembrance of one’s birth. I tried hard to figure the link between remembrance of a birthdate and receiving special treatment but to no avail. Then I figured, the link bridging that gap is this obnoxious sense of entitlement that well was um.. self-bestowed. Birthdays is a very extraordinary social occasion, it is unlike Independence Day, where some dude did some legendary act that benefits the entire country. That, undeniably deserves celebration. Some people say birthdays is a celebration of life. Okay, now that makes a bit more sense. But if birthdays is a celebration of life, shouldn’t your parents, grandparents, best friends be the one receiving the special treatment instead, because without them, you would not have lived, or lived on, whichever.
And since we’re at it, so is Valentine’s, or anniversaries. The size of your bouquet or the price tag of your gift doesn’t define the level of affection your boyfriend has for you. There I said it. In fact, woman, did you seriously think that Valentine’s was invented as a day for flaunting how generous your boyfriend(s) is? That every anniversary it’s not about celebrating “us” but about celebrating “you”? I’m a female by the way, but that doesn’t mean I approve of what fellow women does.
So… Clearly I’m out of the Birthday Tantrum rehabilitation, so what am I busy with on my birthday? Every year on my birthday, I am happier than ever. When I’m not out with the most adorable friends whom, every year without fail, try so hard to surprise me (but I see through it each time hehe), I spend my birthdays, just being thankful with what I have. I’d read through each and every handwritten card I’ve received down to the very first one and I’ll reminiscence the fond memories we shared. Isn’t this what birthdays should be? Celebrating the existence of the people who made your life so worth living?
And so, it doesn’t stop there, I try to make my loved ones’ day very special. So special it brings tears to their eyes, so special they’ll remember it for the rest of their lives. Other times, it isn’t special, because some just doesn’t like special treatment, but I give them quality time, doing things we love together.
I do admit it’s a chore though, not so much of the crazy hectic coordination of surprises or the tedious hand-made cards, rather, remembering the dates itself. I’m terribly poor with numbers, I can’t remember dates for nuts. So I try, hard. I key birthday reminders on my phone calendar and flip when my calendar is erased. I write it in a calendar book, but I lose it anyway. Friends who know me for decades also realise that I can throw very elaborate birthday celebrations for them in some years, but didn’t wish them at all in other years. (I’m tryin’ okay, I’m trying.)
I’d never expect myself to say this, but…. A birthday is really just a date. It’s not a measurement of your friendship or relationship. Then again, if someone treats you exceptionally well and showers you with exorbitant presents on your birthday but is usually so stingy with affection and gifts, isn’t it odd… Like… You don’t have to wait till its dinner time to eat right, if you’re hungry you just grab chips; You don’t have to wait till it’s a special occasion to show that you care.