birthdays

squed
5 min readApr 27, 2023

as someone who has, fortunately or unfortunately depending on one’s perspective, been born, i have a birthday. because i live in england (this is deeply unfortunate), i am aware of this fact, and care about it quite a bit. the whole idea of birthdays being cared about is a little weird if you think about it (of course, most things are).

i could launch into a whole spiel about how calendars existing, and people using calendars to mark the birth of people and keeping that in their minds is weird as well. of course, it is weird! the good weird though- something i’m not sure would happen in other universes if they are out there (plot twist: i’ve actually just backdoored the spiel for you! i hope this does not make you spontaneously combust in shock and awe!!). maybe they’d celebrate saying their first word or being named, or some other nebulous idea like that.

i’m sure there are a billion scifi books that have a concept like that in them, but i don’t have the self-belief or the attention span to write one. (a good one at least- my doctor who writings from earlier in my life shall always go unpublished!!)

my worst birthday was probably in 2020- in the midst of lockdown, which despite people’s proclamations, sucked balls for literally everyone involved- i was not in the… healthiest of mental states! no-one was, and i wasn’t doing it in a cringe way so i am not bothered about that fact being public. you could have probably guessed that about me anyways! i had come to the somewhat depressing, but highly freeing, realisation that my school friends were unlikely to converse with me outside of school.

if you know me to a certain extent (something very likely if you are reading this!) you are probably aware that i love slyly dropping hints that it is my birthday soon. unfortunately, being disarming and wily is very hard to do on the internet, and my beguiling looks and coy glances were even harder to communicate. being earnest about things was (and is!) still a hard thing for me to do.

i wasn’t actually sure what to expect on my birthday- i had made no reference of it on any social media platform (apart from one. but that is a boring and cringe part of my life [yes even more so than everything else i write about! {think i’ve unlocked unlimited use of parentheses}] that i don’t have the confidence to divulge [yet…].) it killed me a little bit on the inside when my best friend- at the time, of course, (since this, i have now rid myself of all negative energy in my life in my constant pursual of an apotheosis)- did not seem to remember.

i mulled over what to do with this information. the newly 14 year old me had no clue what to do. even through a very turbulent sense of what ‘friendship’ was meant to mean, i could still feel that this was not meant to be… right? eventually, i reached a conclusion. to lighten the mood a little bit, i shall let you guess: what was i to do now?

a: cry a little bit, and then watch white chicks to feel better

b: bake myself a really nice cake with a bit too much red food colouring, and then watch the season finale of better call saul that i forgot about.

c: slink back to my friend’s messages with a “hi we haven’t talked in ages [laugh crying emoji] what are u doing today?”

d: make a really sad post on a discord’s vent channel about my life being really sad ;(

dear reader, if you guessed all 4 happening in the space of 5 hours, you would be right! if you are angry that all of the above wasn’t an option, you need to disassociate yourself from capitalistic power structures, and unlearn inherently patriarchal, problematic ideas of the ‘rat-race’ so you can be better in your interactions with marginalised communities.

but in the darkness, hearts aglow. this depressing experience actually quite helped me in the long run. it shattered the perception i had of one of my confidantes, yes, but it also helped me to loosen the vice-grip i had on something that wasn’t very good, actually! not completely let go, of course, because i was still in my pathetic era and would have done anything for someone to like me a little bit more than they already did.

i saw an interview on tiktok with bo burnham (two of the things i detest most in life). annoyingly though, what he was saying in the interview was actually quite interesting, and the comments proved fruitful in inspiration. perhaps i should take that as a sign to stop being a hater, i ponder, but then i think that you wouldn’t tell a shark to stop chomping things either, right? he was expressing something along the lines of that he felt somewhat empty on all of his birthdays, and guilty at feeling this emptiness, because he thought that he should be enjoying it far more than it was. he assumed that everyone was meant to feel like they were in a disney movie, where their birthday is the biggest thing to ever happen, and everyone loves it to such an extent that one can even burst into song.

with media instilling this idea in us for a plethora of reasons (i think that balloon companies did this, and propagated the idea of a birthday in order to sell more balloons), i weirdly understood exactly what he meant. everything we do is filtered through the massively simulacraic society we live in, where our shared cultural arrested development forces even our most unique, personal experiences are still expected to be compared to the platonic ideal of that experience.

… right? that’s where this is meant to go! and i say something funny and witty and slightly biting to cover up an intense sadness within me. or something like that?

my best birthday, i believe and hope, is yet to come. but as i write this (on the 27th of april, two thousand and twenty-three), the current best is last year’s. i got cards, which i pore over whenever i feel down, and mean unimaginably much to me. i got gifts, some of which were gone in a few days, some of which are still with me (shout-out to the love of my life, residing by me while i write this, and who was gifted to me last year).

even though i did not get sixteen wishes of mine granted, including the magical ability to like sushi (which i genuinely wish [badumtish] i had!), it was still a really, really, nice day. they all brought up a joy that, i think, was bubbling away in me for a long time. not a type you get on a very lovely holiday, which you know is ephemeral, and unlikely to last, but one that buoys you for a long time. like a little life bettering potion you were gifted, it weathers you through the worst time. the flowers smell nicer, the sun looks better, and sometimes, in the best of days, you can finally wake up with a smile from ear-to-ear, proudly emblazoned upon your face.

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