“Birthdays come but once a year, celebrate and be of good cheer.” — Robert Rivers
Today I’m blessed to celebrate my 25th birthday! First, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to call, FT, text, and DM me and wish me a Happy Birthday. I feel loved and appreciated.
For the past few years, my birthday and the days surrounding have been moments of breakthroughs. Two years ago, I decided to switch up the flow and provide some value, so I released an article.
Then last year, I released The Bag Ladies A-Alike which freed me from the dead weight I’d been carrying around and opened the door to having conversations around vulnerability/what it means to be a man with many of my friends.
Moreover, each year some, healing occurs. Helping me enter into the next chapter of my life with a clean slate. And this year was no different.
During the weeks leading up to my birthday, friends and family members always inquire about my plans to celebrate. In the past years, I disliked these inquiries because I felt ashamed for not having anything planned. The question, “what are your plans” served as a reminder that I wasn’t being intentional about celebrating myself.
However, this year, answering the question wasn’t so bad with my family reunion falling on my birthday weekend, it gave me an excuse not to have any plans to celebrate.
But in typical fashion, Danny tried to box me in when he asked, “why don’t you give people the chance to celebrate you?” Then, reminding me of a time a couple of years ago when folks attempted to plan something for me and I shut it down. Lol
I didn’t have an answer.
But ever since that moment I’ve had the question running through the back of my mind, attempting to trace this non-celebratory spirit back to its roots.
The first path this question led me down was my birthday experiences growing up.
To most kids being a summer baby is ideal. You get to sleep in and spend your day how you see fit. However, the downside is you miss out on the birthday experience that comes with having your birthday falls during the school year.
Growing up, I envied kids whose birthday fell during the school year. Jealous because I’d never get the opportunity to bring cupcakes and be celebrated in the classroom. At times I wished I was born just a month earlier. I’d at least have the potential to have some birthdays in school depending upon the number of snow days.
Moreover, instead of a class party, my celebratory cheers were in the form of birthday licks. Growing up, I was the youngest in the neighborhood allowed to hang out and play with the older kids. However, my birthday was an opportunity to put me into my place. A G-Check to remind me of the social hierarchy.
One year, in particular, I walked out my front door and out hopped a few of my older kids. Too late to turn back inside, I start running down the street. But within 20 yards of my house, I was tackled to the ground and received a series of intense birthday licks.
After they finished, I laid on the ground for a while. They paralyzed my arm. Lol.
But, like Rocky Balboa after being knocked down, I got up, dusted myself off, and proceed to make my way home. But waiting at my front door was one more person. He presented me with an ultimatum. “Take your birthday licks here or run and they’ll be 10x harder.” So like a G, I stood there and took my licks.
Nonetheless, although I had some memorable birthdays with friends and family growing up, it felt like something was missing. I assumed that having the opportunity to walk down the hallway in school and have people wish me a happy birthday was the answer. But it was much deeper than that.
I reality, I was searching for something no one could give me. I had expectations that were unspoken, unclear, and were unable to be met by any person.
Having control and being able to do as I please is ingrained in my DNA. So as a kid, I couldn’t wait to get older and make my own decisions. But as I got older and the outcome was still a disappointment, I almost threw in the towel on celebrating my birthday. My 16th birthday was my breaking point.
I had high expectations for my family because of my sister’s 16th birthday. I’d come home from school, in the 8th grade in at the time, and the front door was open. I heard music blasting, I thought interesting it’s a school night.
I walk in the front door and see a nicely put together photo collogue of my sister, ballons, etc. I go into the kitchen and see the back door open. My dad is on the grill, cooking for my sister and her friends. I greet everyone, and she shows me the chocolate and a teddy bear my dad sent to the school for her.
Nonetheless, going into my 16th birthday, I knew that I wouldn’t get the same treatment as my sister because I wasn’t daddy’s little girl, but I expected something. But when my birthday came, and I didn’t even get a cake or a card, I was devastated.
I thought, ok cool, forget my parents! At least I’m going to have fun with my friends.
Then, the party we’re going to gets canceled, and we can’t find another move. And to make matters worse, my mom gave me an 11:00 PM curfew despite going to parties and being out until 1–3 since the age of 13.
I ended my night around 6:00 PM and sat in my room until some family came over. After that day to avoid being disappointed, I either didn’t plan anything or let others plan for me. Neither of which are answers to the real problem.
My response was the problem. Sensitive about my birthday I tend to remember the bad and not the good. Or what my parents didn’t do instead of what they did. When in reality, I needed to shift my perspective to embracing all the love that I did receive. And not allow any person to ruin my day.
The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. — Oprah Winfrey
Nevertheless, moving forward, I plan on being more celebratory with my birthdays. Feel free to hold your boy accountable. I thank yall and love yall!