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Happy Birthday

Kristen Durbin | Friday, April 23, 2010

Today is my birthday, and it couldn’t have fallen on a better Friday (or weekend, for that matter) of the year: I get to turn Pigtostal, the Blue-Gold Game and Muddy Sunday into additional reasons to celebrate my 19th year of being. 

However, as years have gone by, the celebrations surrounding birthdays have become less creative and all-inclusive and more impersonal and generic. Gone are the days of pondering for hours what kind of birthday party I wanted to have: no more pottery painting parties, roller skating bashes or pool parties to look forward to.

Now, on my first birthday as a college student, my celebrations center around going to dinner with a few friends and proceeding to engage in various alcohol-related activities around campus for the rest of the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy going out with friends, meeting new people and accumulating stories of ridiculous drunken shenanigans, but you know things have changed when a giant pack of random, sweaty, inebriated people in a crowded dorm room raucously sing “Happy Birthday” to the person of honor like it’s their own best friend’s birthday when, in reality, chances are they have no idea whose birthday it is. If I had my wish, I would gather all my closest friends from both high school and college not only to celebrate my birthday but also to spend quality time with the people who mean the most to me.

With each successive birthday celebration, we eventually begin to cringe at the thought of adding another year to our lives, another number to our ages. Birthdays become Hallmark holidays by the time a person turns 30, reducing the significance of the celebration of one’s birth to a few mildly thoughtful words and generic wishes scrawled on a store-bought greeting card. 

I object to this devaluation of celebrating the most significant day of our lives: the day we were all introduced to the world for the first time. Without birthdays, none of us would even exist, let alone be able to commemorate our first days of being. Birthdays are essentially the only day a person has an excuse to be completely self-centered without getting called out on it by anyone. In addition, birthdays also provide a green light for being slightly obnoxious in making sure everyone knows it’s your birthday and that this simple fact makes it the most important day in recent history. 

So after a long countdown to today’s festivities, I plan on fully embracing the meaning of my birthday and milking its significance for all it’s worth by having a great time celebrating all weekend. And whenever your birthday comes around, don’t forget to be at least a little selfish, a bit obnoxious and to remember the real reason for all the boisterous celebration: you.