Birthday feelings: For my birthday I wish…

It’s a bit childish to take your birthday seriously. But you’re doing everyone else a favor.

My birthday quarter is about to end, so if you still want to congratulate me, now would be your chance. A while ago I started to extend my birthday joy as much as possible: In the weeks leading up to it, I look forward to my birthday very actively and consciously, I spend the day itself with as many lovely people as possible and make an effort afterwards I try to preserve the wonderful birthday feeling as an after-thought for as long as possible. However, I really don’t get angry with anyone, not even my closest friends, if they simply forget my birthday, I’m a very sensible, adult birthday girl in that respect. I have no expectations of others. I celebrate myself and am happy for everyone who joins in, but I don’t blame anyone for not taking my birthday as seriously as I do.

To be honest, that’s difficult because I take my birthday absurdly important. On this day I celebrate that I was born, still alive and another year older. It seems so obvious, but it’s a damn privilege, so: raise your cups. Besides, I don’t usually have the tendency to take myself particularly seriously or important, but on this one day of the year I really let go of all my acquired inhibitions.

I know it’s considered uncool and it’s a little embarrassing to act as an adult like you’re wearing the kindergarten crown for a day. Or greedily tearing open gifts and birthday cards in the hallway on the way from the mailbox back to the apartment or then somehow being happy about pre-written Facebook congratulations from long-forgotten elementary school acquaintances. But I do all of these things and those around me have now gotten used to it and gently and generously laugh at my whimsy.

Birthday: A way to tell your loved ones how much you love them

However, I also like to get on my friends’ nerves by trying to proselytize them in this regard. Most people don’t like celebrating their birthdays, especially the round ones. Because it seems too much effort, or because they don’t like being the center of attention, or because they don’t want to be reminded of their mortality. I understand all of this, but I still want to counter it. As arbitrary as it may be to declare the day of one’s birth to be special: In our culture, it is the best way to give your friends a wreath, to tell them how much you love them, how much their friendship means to me, and how much I look forward to the next year of life with them. Sure, I could do that on any other day, but it’s always good to have a clearly defined reason for these emotional outbursts, I don’t want to overwhelm anyone.

Celebrating your birthday is always a bit of service to the community. And because so few people do it anymore, you’re usually happy when someone gets around to it. Maybe even rent a room and hire a DJ and give middle-aged people like me the opportunity to hit a dance floor without having to wait until after midnight and then have to deal with some bouncer. It gets even nicer when someone misbehaves a little bit or people make out with each other who wouldn’t have done that before, and then there are good anecdotes among friends and enough to talk about for weeks.

On the other hand: Who am I to force a party on other people who rightly want to do exactly what seems to them to be the greatest act of self-love on their special day, namely doing nothing at all and, if possible, not meeting anyone? A friend who turns 50 this year suggested a very good compromise: He’s having a big party, everyone should come and really celebrate him, give him gifts, praise him, drink to him – only he himself just doesn’t show up.

Our columnist Alena Schröder shares her view of life here, alternating with Anja Rützel.
© Sammy Hart

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