Tantrums to teenage years: Navigating birthdays

One of my favorite birthdays was when I turned six. It was two of my best friends at the time, in true “playdate” fashion. In fact: one of the special attendees is still one of my best friends today.

Chloe Patel | Senior Graphic Artist

When they came over after school, we donned ourselves with elegant, lacy skirts and did a bunch of crafts and baking activities. What came after was what every child dreamed of hearing when a playdate was nearing its end: they got to sleep over after. 

I was ecstatic. I never had a sleepover before that night, and to be honest, I felt as though it was my rite of passage to becoming  a “big girl.” It was my time to become a teenager, like the ones I saw in the J-14 magazines. 

In hindsight, I realize that it’s not the sleepover you have with your two friends at the age of six that makes you big, but at the same time, I’m not sure it is your age that makes you older either. 

If anything, I feel like I have regressed to the whiny sixteen-year-old girl who I used to be. Is it possible to hate who you were at sixteen when you are nineteen, but become her at twenty?

I feel like a lot of people can relate when I make this melodramatic statement: birthdays can be some of the loneliest days you can experience. 

Now, I say this with the total acknowledgment that I am incredibly privileged in my life. I have a loving family, the sweetest cousins and some extremely amazing people to call my friends. 

That, however, doesn’t stop me from getting that melancholy feeling each year on my birthday. Maybe it’s a symptom of growing up. Maybe it’s a symptom of only retaining the people closest to you, and feeling a lot less significant than you do when you see wave to ten, twenty or even fifty acquaintances passing by in one day. Maybe it’s just my narcissism that shines through when I write this out.

Each year, when March first rolls around, I feel a small sense of dread. I know that when the month is over, I’ll be left to deal with the repercussions of another year and a new age to grow comfortable with. 

I dislike the concept of counting time, though, I try to immerse myself in the positive rhetoric. Even when I was small, it felt like another year gained was another year lost. You grow and you take, and there is no way to get those years back. Growing older is a privilege, but there is some twisted part of me that feels like with each passing year, I am only losing more and more of myself. I find myself comparing this year to last year with factors of what I looked like, my emotional state and who wished me a happy birthday back then versus now. 

This might be a display of a massive ego, but I can’t help it. I do realize the logical realization that people have their lives to live. People are busy and have all different types of things going on in their lives. 

So, if I know all this, I ask myself: how can I be so self-absorbed? Then, I began to think: Would I have reached out to them? No doubt. This leaves me with the thought “I guess we aren’t as close as I thought we were.” 

Each year, I tell myself not to be excited. I try my best to manage my expectations and remain grounded, telling myself that it truly is nothing more than just another day. 

However, against my better judgment and my usual disposition of remaining easygoing, I get so wrapped up in myself. I get so emotional and revert to a child, throwing a tantrum because my little sister blew out my birthday candles. 

I get so caught up in my emotions that I don’t even realize that my mother could just relight them and have everyone sing to me again. 

This year, I had the privilege of my little sister visiting me for my birthday. It fell on a Monday, so it wasn’t the most convenient, but my excitement for her arrival made me forget about all of the negatives. 

My sister, roommate and I went out to dinner to celebrate, and at that moment, I was content. Writing this after my birthday has passed, I can say that I’m so appreciative of those around me. 

Maybe my birthday offers an ephemeral alternate universe where I can slide from childhood to adulthood in a matter of hours. Who knows? 

My last year of being a teenager is over, so maybe it’s only right I indulge myself with these bruting, angsty-type emotions one last time. Maybe, in my true fashion, I will feel differently next year. Only difference? I might not feel so bad about it.

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One Comment

  1. this is so good this is what I love to read I am the roommate in question

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