A very happy birthday

Birthdays have not traditionally been an enjoyable event for me. There has been a consistent sense of anxiety as the day approaches, a feeling that only intensified once the actual day started. It would all begin to escalate with a simple question “what do you want for your birthday?” This question honestly flummoxed me each and every time. In my heart of hearts, I didn’t know what actions or gifts would give me a happy birthday. I wanted to be happy, I really did, but I could not identify how to make that happen. Cue the stress, the irritation, and the depression.

There was a change this year. I found out how to be happy on my birthday (and possibly happy all the time). I can’t put my finger on the exact catalyst for this change, but there were a few things that stuck in my mind. The public (social media) birthday wishes from a few of my dear family members made mention of how creative I was and how they were excited for what I would create in upcoming year: my wife’s message was the perfect example of this. And my sister-in-law in Thunder Bay let me know that her 9-year-old had confiscated my novels from his mom so that he could read them himself, and he was chewing through the books with a voracious literary appetite.

It’s very important to note that my friends and family have always been supportive, more so than I’ve ever really acknowledged. And that’s the big change, the present I gave myself: I acknowledged that I have these wonderful people cheering me on. For the first time in my life (or as far as I can remember) I accepted the fact that I am loved and supported. By simply believing that, my birthday became one of real celebration. I didn’t need to spend the day hoping for proof or validation. My emotional foundation was set. My family loves me, my friends care for me, and I’m happy with who I am. The stress that usually haunts every minute of August 20 vanished. It was replaced by a calm optimism and joy. It’s pretty amazing.

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