Janice Lin/MiC.

So, I’m turning 21 this week. As my friends and family know, my birthday is my favorite day of the year. Birthdays are a whole day dedicated to you solely because you were born — likely not of your choice — on this specific date. (If anything, our birthdays should be dedicated to our parents instead — thank you, Mom!) I mean, I’m so obsessed with my own birthday that I’m writing an entire piece dedicated to it. Let me explain why.

I’ve noticed that some people think getting excited for their own birthday is selfish or self-centered. “I haven’t done anything worth praise — I was just born on this day. What’s the big deal?” they might say. Others simply stop caring about their birthdays as they get older. However, I’m against ignoring birthdays, whether it be mine or someone else’s, because why shouldn’t we celebrate being another year older and wiser?

The world wouldn’t be the same if you hadn’t been born, and I think that’s something really special and calls for a cake. Be happy to be alive, proud to be you and surround yourself with people who will celebrate this with you. It shouldn’t be a day for you to beat yourself up about not having achieved everything you wanted to be at that age, but a day to recognize all that you’ve accomplished since your last birthday. Inviting friends and family to celebrate our birthdays with us is a way to show our love for them and appreciation for how they have supported us. In fact, in this regard, we should treat every day like it’s our birthday.

But I didn’t always get so excited about celebrating my birthday. In fact, up until a couple of years ago, I was always a little bit on edge on the days leading up to it. Since my birthday falls around final exam season, I was always filled with nerves that people wouldn’t have time to celebrate with me or that I was a burden for inviting people to dinner when they could be studying. 

It wasn’t until I googled “sad on my birthday” two years ago that I realized I wasn’t alone. Urban dictionary defines “birthday blues” as “a general sadness or feeling down by a person on or around (their) birthday” that is caused by factors such as “being disappointed or not having expectations met by a birthday celebration or gifts.” Overly-perfect Instagram pictures with the birthday person surrounded by 30 friends with a balloon arch and two-tier cake left me with unrealistic expectations about what a happy birthday looked like. Neither of those things correlate to how “good” a birthday is and I was setting myself up for disappointment as well as overlooking the true spirit of birthdays. After years of feeling this way, I realized that I was setting myself up for disappointment and that my birthday is more about how much I love myself than how much others love me.

This birthday, I’m excited to take myself on a lunch date to my favorite restaurant and read a good book while gazing out the window and sipping on hot chocolate, like the main character in a Christmas romantic comedy. After that, I’m looking forward to buying myself a chocolate Costco cake so big that I have to finish the jug of milk and eat all the apples in the fridge to make room for it. Every year for dinner, my mom also makes some sort of noodle dish because the long length of the noodles is believed to represent longevity in Chinese culture. She’ll also make a batch of hard-boiled eggs and dye their shells red with food coloring because the color red is considered lucky and eggs symbolize new beginnings and prosperity. She always makes enough for me to give to all my friends, telling me that doing so will ensure good relationships. These birthday traditions don’t involve being surrounded by 30 acquaintances or costly decorations, but they make me even happier than any of those could. 

It’s not always easy to remember it, but I want to take care of myself every day like I do on my birthday. Even on random Tuesdays, I want to put myself and my well-being first the way I do on my birthday. I want to love myself and love life the way I do on my birthday. Here’s to another year filled with lots of growth and laughter, and happy birthday to all my fellow Sagittarius friends out there!

MiC Columnist Victoria Tan can be reached at tanv@umich.edu.