Please Celebrate Your Birthday

tim chan —  October 15, 2012 — 17 Comments

So your birthday’s coming up.

Soon you will turn 20, or a quarter of a century, or 29, or the big 3-0 (…GASP), or 37, or whatever age you will be. You are trying not to think about it because there is this feeling of disappointment that comes with thought of getting another year older.

Please celebrate your birthdayBut you can’t avoid it. Your family and friends keep reminding you that your birthday is coming up and ask how you’re going to celebrate. You wonder why they seem to look forward to your birthday. You just feel old.

You actually dread your birthday. “I’d rather people not remember,” you think. “I just want the day to come and pass quietly with any big hurrah.” You don’t want the attention that your birthday brings.

But I urge you. Please, please, please, PLEASE celebrate your birthday. It’s very important that you do.

As children we all loved our birthdays. Maybe it was the presents. Or chocolate cake with sprinkles. Or the party where we got to invite all our friends. Maybe it was because that day was all about us and we loved the attention we received – it made us feel special.

There was a certain excitement about growing up. To be taller. To be faster. To be smarter. To be more like our parents or role models. To get closer to being adults who got to do whatever they wanted to.

And now we’re adults. And life doesn’t seem so appealing. Somewhere, somehow, we lost that excitement for life.


Sure, maybe you are disappointed with your life. It is not what you hoped it would be.

Maybe you wished that your career was further along than it is.
Maybe you hoped you were married with kids, or at least in a long-term relationship that was going somewhere.
Maybe you are embarrassed that you are still living with your parents at this age.
Maybe you had thought that you would have completed your education by now.
Maybe you wished you had more interesting life experiences – done more travelling, met more interesting people or discovered more fascinating hobbies.
Maybe you look around and your friends are “further ahead” than you in life.

Watching Michael Phelps in the Olympics doesn’t help either. You think, “He’s the most decorated Olympic athlete with a total of 22 medals. And he’s only 27 years old. What did I accomplish at age 27?” The depressing reality of the situation sinks in.

Birthdays remind us that time is ticking. We are not getting any younger. Our life is passing us by. Before you know it, you’ll be dead. You’ll be buried in a cemetery and your tombstone will say something like, “Didn’t do anything with his life” or “She was a great example of a failure.”





Hiding from your birthday is not going to change anything. In fact, it will make it worse. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You do not celebrate your birthday because you do not think there is anything worth celebrating. Then you continue living like there is nothing to celebrate. You lose anticipation for life.

Frankly, I’m sick of it. I’m sick of you trying to hide from your birthday. I’m sick of you complaining that you are growing older and there are no good reasons to celebrate with your friends and family. I’m sick of you trying to make your birthday a quiet affair. Your fear of growing older is holding you back from enjoying your life and moving forward. In fact, the older you get, the more important it is to celebrate your birthday.

“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” – Anonymous

Now please pay close attention.

This last point I am making is even more important. This is the most crucial reason that I am desperately urging you to celebrate your birthday.

When you celebrate your birthday, you are not celebrating your accomplishments, your achievements, the great things you have done in life, or the dreams you have fulfilled.

No, you celebrate your birthday because your life has value apart from what you have done. You are worth celebrating, whether or not you’ve done something significant, special or great with your life. You have value and dignity and worth.

Believe this about yourself. Believe it deeply from the bottom of your heart.

And go celebrate your birthday. Do it even if you don’t feel like it. Muster up the courage and go big. Call up all the people that you love and invite them to celebrate life with you.

Because in celebrating your birthday, you are reminding yourself and reminding others that every life has value. Every life is important. Every life is precious: yours, theirs, and the life of every human being on the planet.

How will you celebrate your birthday this year? Share in the comments.


photo credit: Helga WeberDustin Diaz
  • Jess

    TIM! I had to comment on this entry because I totally hear you. Ever since I turned 21, I have loathed my birthday. Every year, the feeling of dread, helplessness, and shame compounds and every year I wish I could erase the day, and just get on with the rest of my life. You gave me the equivalent of a smack and a ‘snap out of it!!’ and I’m really grateful for that! (Also, I’m not married and don’t have a kid but your and Olive’s blog makes me hope that someday I’ll be as wise about life as you!)

    • Jess, I’ve definitely felt that way as well. Sometimes it feels like a discipline to celebrate, as weird as that sounds. Thanks for the kind words, and hope you’re doing well!

  • dorcas

    Mhm. For sure. Why do you think I have a big extravaganza each year? Because I’m awesome and worth it!! Woooot! :)

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  • Amanda

    I try to spend my birthday with as few people as possible because (in being a summer birthday) most people are usually away on the day of my birthday and it makes me feel like I have no friends when no one is able to come out and celebrate. So usually I see one or two friends and spend most of the day alone with God and then call a big celebration in September. But the guest post of UNbirthdays is a perfect one for me! It feels time for an unbirthday party soon!!

  • Jaycie

    So, what do you have to say to someone who is generally satisfied with their life but finds their birthday unbelievably stressful and unnecessary? Because you haven’t convinced someone in those circumstances of anything.

    • eme efe

      I’m on the same boat Jaycie. I just don’t care about celebrating my birthday and I’m not bitter.

  • Blankety blank blank

    I’m not celebrating my birthday. Why celebrate the day you were born when you wish you were never born? I am not going to celebrate my bday or even acknowledge it happening because what’s the point? I wish I was dead, so….

  • BeefTechnology

    What a poorly thought-out essay. When you are a child, growing older means you are getting closer to things that are actually worth looking forward to: specifically, being an adult. Once you are an adult, there is no reason to throw a party every year. I mean, if you want to and just need an excuse, good for you. Don’t force it on me. The answer to the question of why I don’t celebrate my birthday is the same as the question of why I’m not throwing a party right this instant: because there is no reason to. I celebrate my life by living it and doing things I enjoy, which don’t happen to include getting showered in unwanted attention and fake well-wishing. This has nothing to do with a fear of getting older, only with spending time in ways that I enjoy spending it. Celebrating birthdays is a purely cultural phenomenon with no deep meaning like you seem to think it has. There is nothing special about being 365 days away from exiting my mother’s womb, nor the 365 days after that, and so on. Pretending that there is meaning there will not give your life meaning.

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  • John

    I don’t have any friends. I don’t want to see my family. I’ve never had a birthday party. I don’t like being the center of attention. No one’s going to give me a party, and I’m certainly not going to throw one for myself. Now piss off and leave me alone.

  • Xylia Cushman

    my birthday is monday of next week and im going to celebrate so much that im freaking tired when it all over lol. chill chill im going to have fun on my birthday. yall should have fun on your birthday too. :)