This weekend I am doing things rather differently. Since work has officially ended and I have time on hand, I’ve gone outside my comfort zone to invite friends over and get together in a more traditional manner. I’ve never played a good host, and I don’t think that’s going to change now. But what I am scared of is not the weekend but what comes after it. I’ll be 22 on Monday, a year older than I am today.
For the past 4 years, I haven’t celebrated my birthday in any huge way, it’s always been a meal out with friends a couple of wishes and cutting a cake at midnight. Actually, I stopped making a big deal out of my birthday after I turned 14 because life got complicated. I always had a test or assignment on or after my birthday, I had big decisions to make after 14. I had to think about what I wanted to do in life, which course, which place?
My 18th birthday was my first birthday I celebrated in a different city without my parents and the format of my birthdays suddenly changed. It was the first time I celebrated my birthday at midnight. I had explicitly told my friends that I didn’t want to be woken up but they did and it was sweet. It was something new. I felt awkward, out of my depth and I missed my best friends and my family like crazy.
My family made it special for me from far away, and my best friends surprised me. Last year, I was too stressed to celebrate my birthday, I didn’t want to at all because I was going to be leaving the country soon. So I had a quiet little birthday, my sister and brother-in-law outdid themselves and again made it special. It’s always been someone else making my birthday special for me. It’s never really my initiative. I’m the only one who doesn’t wish myself on my birthday, everybody else wishes me.
This year, I decided to make my birthday special for myself. So I insisted that my best friends come over, and I’ve planned a whole weekend full of food and fun, one day with my best friends and the next with my family. Instead of treating my birthday like a day I just want to skip, I want to make something of it. I don’t care about gifts but I do care about the company. I want to be excited about my birthday again, like a child.
I’m not doing anything crazy though, it’s still low key just the way I like. Everything isn’t going by plan my dessert turned out to be a flop. Despite following my recipe my bonbons came out wrong. But, I’m still in high spirits because while it may not have come out the way I intended, it still tastes great and so I’m instead naming it, ‘Deconstructed Bonbons’. I’m doing all this cooking and planning just to forget my anxiety about my birthday. I can’t really understand why I am so nervous but I guess that’s just me.
It’s not the fear of turning 22 but it’s the fear of what it signifies. To be honest, I don’t know what it signifies, it just makes me nervous and every year I feel the same nervousness and a little unsettled. I know it shouldn’t be this complicated and that maybe I’m the one thinking too much of it. I have never particularly understood my feeling towards my own birthday. I’ve always been in two minds about it.
This year I just felt like I should put in some effort because I don’t know when I’ll be in the mood to do so next. I don’t think I’m worried about how much others love me or enjoy my company but I am worried that I don’t love myself enough and I think maybe I should. 22 might be fun, I don’t know. Last year I just wanted to curl up on my bed reading a book and spend the day arranging my book rack. This year I’m asking for people to be there and this is strange even for me.
22 is not an enormous number, but it’s bigger than 21. I made it through another year and I guess that’s a good sign. But I still feel bogged down by the weight of my decisions, and I know even if I turn a year older it’ll take me a while to accept it. I’m in way too deep, this celebration and this sort of effort are not within my comfort zone. I want to celebrate my birthday like it’s the sweet sixteen I never had.
I can’t tell whether I am growing up or growing old.