Learning to Love Your Birthday

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Photo by A_of_DooM (2010) via Wikimedia Commons. Text added by Tiffany Walsh

February is my birthday month. I have always liked having a birthday in February because it is such an unusual month. Only 28 days, but sometimes 29? It makes your birthday more memorable to have it during the wacky month, it seems to me. Also, given the area of the world in which I reside, it’s a lovely pick-me-up to have a birthday in the heart of winter, right when everyone is longing for spring. My birthday is very near to Valentine’s Day, and it always seemed like a fun time of year to me.

There is one thing, though. And that would be that birthdays, as I progressed through my life, became somewhat less enjoyable to me due to the fact of GETTING OLDER. As a woman, I know we don’t like to talk about this, but yes we do get older, and things change for us physically and emotionally as we age. It is not exactly a fun process, but we’re in this together, right?

Two years ago, I had a milestone birthday that I was dreading with particular virulence. It even cast a pall over *the five previous birthdays* because of their proximity to this particular milestone. I look back on that now and shake my head at my own flare for drama, but the feelings were very real. I worried about what the new decade would mean in terms of adjusting to the inevitable changes it would bring into my life: changes to my job, my children moving into different stages of development, more financial responsibilities. I worried about physical changes that may impede my ability to be active in the hobbies that I love: dancing, knitting, writing. I will grant, worrying does nothing to change things that are out of our control. In addition, the decade that I entered into was not exactly my centennial year or anything of that nature, so I was likely worrying about many of these things long before I needed to. The fact remains though, that as we move through our life, our own mortality, the mortality of those whom we love, and the changing nature of our physical bodies becomes more and more real to us.

There we have it, and so do I have a solution to all of these worries? Not exactly, but I have found solace in an inspirational source that I thought I would share: one of my favorite people of all time, Pope St. John Paul II:

“Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ… Christ knows ‘what is in man.’ He alone knows it.”

I have worked very hard of late to let go of my tendency to worry; indeed, it is one of my New Year’s resolutions! And I think that this resolution applies to so many arenas of life. There is no going back in life, only moving forward. And we should not be afraid to embark on these new journeys and adventures. One of these adventures may be getting new lines around our eyes, but we should not fear these things. Our faith and joy can carry us through everything, including the aging process. Even with the passing of years, life is short. I want to enjoy every moment!

And so now I look at the positive aspects of my birthday. I lead a life that I love, and so I am going to love that life that I lead. I enjoy going out to dinner with my husband on my birthday, and I enjoy the cake that my children help pick out for me. I enjoy spending time with my friends on my birthday, and their well wishes bring warmth into my day. I spend time reflecting about how much I have changed from the insecure, anxious teenager I used to be, and it occurs to me that there are definitely advantages to being older. Would you not agree?

Has your philosophy towards birthdays changed over time? What do you enjoy most about your birthday? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Copyright 2017 Tiffany Walsh 

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About Author

Tiffany is a wife and mother to two precious children, a native Western New Yorker, and an academic librarian. She is a cradle Catholic who rekindled her childhood faith as a graduate student in New York City via her love of books and discovery of daily Mass. She enjoys using humor in her writing, and blogs about faith, books, and everything in-between over at lifeofacatholiclibrarian.com.

6 Comments

  1. I love my birthday!! 🙂
    I’ve not always loved celebrating it with my family (Mum, Dad & sisters) – they have and still are bullies. It brings me anxiety so it’s sorta been traumatic but I try every year to put my kids (still under 8) first and enjoy the day since they are young enough to enjoy the revelries. So my new resolution since last year is to do re-do’s in the Summer since mine falls in March (Brr! #Canada) This year Mini Golf!
    I want them to love their birthdays (mission accomplished!) and not live in the unease that are my issues.

    • Hi Simone! This is a beautiful story, thank you for sharing it. I can understand that family issues could certainly make birthday stressful, and you’ve found an admirable coping mechanism for it. I love your idea of summer re-do’s for winter birthdays! I guess mine would be August, the 6 month mark. 😉

  2. This was great to read, thank you. I have the big 4-0 coming up, and Im a bit surprised at how much I’m dreading it. Thanks for helping my perspective!

    • Hi Erin!

      Indeed, that was the tough one for me so far. 😉 But it gets easier. And like I said, there are many things about being at that milestone that I truly enjoy. It’s a difficult adjustment to that first number change though!

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