It’s my birthday on Friday! This will come as no surprise to many of you. I am obnoxious when it comes to my birthday. I claim a Birthday Month. I start a countdown as soon as the calendar turns over to February. I make sure everyone knows that it is coming and that I love birthdays.
I really do.
“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” Birthdays are a reminder of the gift of days, weeks, years. I do not take those for granted.
But what I have learned over the years is that I should tell people that my birthday is coming up and that my birthday is a big deal to me.
I remember when my daughter went to school on her birthday in 6th grade…excited to see how her friends had decorated her locker. And I remember the sadness in her voice when she called to tell me that no one had decorated it. She had great friends who cared about her. They did not neglect her to be mean or spiteful. It just didn’t occur to them for whatever reason, and it hurt.
It reminded me of the many years that I went to school or work excited to see how people would celebrate with me. Or the times I passed a milestone or hit an anniversary of some kind, anxious for others to make a big deal out of it. And many times, I was disappointed.
I have the greatest family and friends and colleagues in the world. They are kind and caring and thoughtful. They have never intentionally missed an event or failed to acknowledge something.
But our happiness is often inversely proportional to our level of expectation. (A wise friend taught me that.) If we expect something grand, even something good can be disappointing. Many times we build up what we hope will happen and then we are disappointed when it does not play out exactly as we planned.
That’s on us. That’s on me.
I have learned that if I want something to be a big deal, I should tell people what I want and set about to make it happen. I am in control of my own happiness. I can ask for what I want. I do not believe that this adage is about maintaining low levels of expectation. I have never been accused of low levels of expectation. I expect big! But I have learned that secretly hoping others can read my mind in order to “surprise me” with exactly what I wanted is foolish. Ask for what you want.
My birthday is Friday. Birthdays are a big deal to me. What’s a big deal to you? Tell me. I want to celebrate it with you.