Thank you all for the Hippo Birdies!
I had completely forgotten about it until I got the notification yesterday for twilight_bill's. =) This reminds me... I have to check the expiry date on my driver's license. The LJ Birthday message says if I have a Birthday story, then share it =) Well, I do...
I usually don't celebrate my birthday. Between the time I was 6 to 9, I reasoned it through to myself that my birthday is meaningless. You don't suddenly grow taller on that day; you don't suddenly get smarter on that day; you don't get a bright idea that day; you don't get a new best friend that day. The things that held meaning to me (intelligence, wisdom, friendship) were developed gradually over time, so there's nothing special about my birthday, it's just another day in the year. If there really was ONE day that was all-important to me, it was the first day of school because that was The Beginning of Life Itself as far as I was concerned.
I didn't mind at all if people remembered and wished me Happy Birthday, but I did try to keep a lid on it. When people asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday or what I had planned, I told them politely that I don't celebrate my birthday. If they asked what they can get me for a gift, I'd thank them and turn it down politely. But I stuck to the story that I don't celebrate my birthday. Most people were shocked at what I said, but tried to digest and understand. I'm amazed at the number of who people plain wouldn't listen though - "well, I'm going to do something grand for you anyway"; "I'm going to throw you a big party with lots of friends anyway". As unheard-of as something is, I, personally, think it's a matter of courtesy to respect others' wishes.
I started hiding. I stayed home, cancelled all contact with civilization as much as I could (except school and work). This was at a time when Surprise Birthday Parties were popular among a group of friends I volunteered with. I hatehatehate surprises, even nice surprises.
I went through a few years where I actually got inwardly offended when people mentioned it (1995-1999) - I would smile and thank people for the good wishes, but inside, I was offended that people just didn't seem to care about what _I_ want. But then I thought, How could I fault people for not thinking of me when all they were trying to do was think of me? After I accepted that, I stopped being offended - still annoyed at the ones who wouldn't listen, but more at peace with it inside.
And, yes (laying down on the couch and playing Herr Doktor Freud here), it does have to do with self-esteem issues. It's a bit too long and hairy to explain here, my favorite saying is "It's a big, long, convoluted story that involves World War II...". Which is kinda true. My parents and I immigrated to Canada when I was 2. They quite literally brought nothing with them except a little money, a change of clothes or two, and a 2 year old to raise. Birthdays were buried in the priority list, obviously... Oh, I'd say somewhere behind "eating", "having a place to sleep", "having clothes to wear". Watching my parents work as hard as they did, not having the time and money to celebrate their wedding anniversary, their own birthdays, how could I be so selfish as to ask them to put on a big hullabaloo birthday for me?
I was very mature, independent and self-sufficient at a very young age. By the time I was 6 (first grade), I was given a key to the basement suite we rented. My Mom woke me up before she had to leave for work, I'd get up, get changed and did everything myself, went to school, come home by myself, get a snack and do the homework my Dad assigned me until someone came home. We lived a block away from school, so I walked with some neighbourhood kids.
Growing up too fast creates its own set of problems. My reasoning went something like "if I forget my birthday, then it will hurt less when other people forget about me". Then it was, "Jeez, I can't win, can I? I want people to remember me and they forget. I want people to forget me and they keep remembering".
But I'm okay with it now. I still have self-esteem issues, but not nearly as bad as when I was younger... =P