Celebrate Your Birthday

My husband turned 40 years old. It was a big deal for me. I wanted to throw him a party he would remember forever. I wanted him to wake up to a jolly good morning that would make him want to chase unicorns and slide off the top of the rainbows (I am speaking metaphorically here. I did not plan to spike his coffee with LSD or anything.). I wanted him to dance on the tables, laugh until his belly hurts and get him in bed drunk with endorphines (and maybe some wine). I wanted him to talk about this day once we don't have our own teeth and we shuffle around the house in pajamas all day long, with a twinkle in his eyes.


We had a great time. But it made me think of something I have been encountering lately. People don't want to celebrate their birthdays anymore. They'd rather skip the day all together. Almost every person I know (past the age of 30) feels a painful sting with every candle they blow off their birthday cake. They feel like their life just got one year shorter. They get depressed about all the things they have not achieved yet, the things they thought they would have by now – be it a husband, a child, a career or a house of their own. They despair over things they know will not happen in their lives anymore, the things they will miss out on. They look at the younger ones and say: “Just wait until you're my age. You won't feel like celebrating either.” And then they sigh: “You still have your whole life ahead of you.”

Only that is nothing more than an assumption. Because the truth is that you never have more than just the very moment you are in. That is the greatest guarantee you can ever get. I look at old people and I feel jealous. I envy that they were privileged with time. They were given the opportunity to see their kids grow up. They got to do all those things, make all those decision, meet all those people and see all those places that no twenty year old ever could for a simple reason – there is only that much that you can do in 20 years.

To me, every birthday is a reason to celebrate the time you were given in the past year, built upon the time you were given the years before. I look back and I am constantly amazed by how much life I have lived. I don't know if tomorrow comes. I don't know if I will be able to stick around for my children. I don't even know if I will get to meet my daughter. I have my whole life ahead of me, but nobody knows if the final station is hours, days or years away. What I do know is that I have seen some incredibly beautiful places. I have met some incredibly beautiful people. I have built some incredibly beautiful friendships. I couldn't say the very same ten years ago.

The official years of youth have to come to an end at some point. That is a good thing. Time does not stop for anyone. With every year you gain something meaningful. Even the losses turn into gains in one way or another. For me, the “you are only as old as you feel” is misleading. I don't want to feel ten years younger than I am. I would feel cheated.

I understand people's need to reflect on their lives, their successes, their failures, their mistakes. That's what makes us move forward. That's what we learn from. I just don't understand what does the date of your birth have to do with it. If I may give a word of advice – don't waste another birthday. Call for the cake and celebrate.

Recent Posts by Andrea Chmelik

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