6 Reasons You Hate Your Birthday (+ Tips To Beat Birthday Depression)

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If you’re the type of person who dreads birthdays rather than looking forward to them…

…you’re not alone.

In fact, this reaction is so common that it’s actually referred to as “the birthday blues.”

Instead of making fun plans, you might find yourself depressed and anxious about the upcoming milestone, and dreading any type of celebration about it.

That reaction is totally valid, of course, but it can also be really draining.

If you’d like to switch gears and start being more joyous about your birthday, that’s great: focusing on positivity can be really helpful and healing for a number of reasons.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you might hate birthdays, and how to beat the blues associated with them.

1. You’re depressed about aging.

When I turned 30, I received a card from a friend that said: “Congratulations on being one year closer to death.” 

Uh, thanks?

I have a pretty dark sense of humor, so I was able to laugh at it, but it did put a momentary dampener on that day.

We never know how much time we have left, and birthdays are reminders of life’s fleeting nature.

Other people get really depressed about birthdays because they’re acutely aware of their own aging process. Our society fixates on youthful beauty, vitality, and promise, and every birthday seems to take us one step away from our perception of vibrancy.

For those who place a lot of importance on their appearance and physical abilities, this can be absolutely devastating.

That said, aging is part of life, and it’s better to make peace with that than get anxious and upset at the inevitable.

What you can do about this:

Instead of focusing on how many days have passed in your life, try to stay present and grounded. 

Think about all the amazing things you’ve experienced so far, and how every day is an opportunity to enjoy more awesomeness.

None of us know how many days we have left. Whether you’re turning 25, 40, 70, or 100, each and every day is a gift.

Please try to remain here and now, and appreciate every little thing with as much enthusiasm as possible.

Drink your morning orange juice out of a champagne glass. Wear that amazing underwear that’s languishing at the back of the drawer, still in its wrapping paper.

Crack open that bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion, because you know what? Every day is a special occasion, birthday or not.

2. You don’t like being the center of attention.

If you’re an introvert, suddenly being surrounded by wait staff singing “happy birthday” to you at the top of their lungs can be absolutely excruciating.

The same goes with having your principal make an announcement over the P.A. system, or your boss announcing to everyone that it’s your special day.

This is totally understandable, and you shouldn’t feel forced to participate in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable! 

What you can do about this:

Make it ABSOLUTELY clear to your employers, coworkers, friends, and family members that you are patently uncomfortable with surprise parties, singing telegrams, or anything else they might come up with.

Be very clear about the fact that this is a strong boundary that is not to be crossed.

Also, avoid letting anyone else know when your birthday is. If they ask, be evasive or creative. “I was born on the day the moon kissed the sky for the first time” or something. If they ask your astrological sign to try to figure it out? “Unicorn wolf.”

You can also refuse/avoid social situations for the week before and after your birthday just in case anyone decides to go ahead and do something weird anyway.

3. You feel like you haven’t accomplished enough in the past year.

A lot of people set goals for themselves for a particular year – such as making New Year’s resolutions – and are determined to stick to them this time.

But life happens, and those goals may be put on the back burner, as new priorities pop up.

When one’s birthday rolls around, it’s a rather sharp reminder that a whole lot of time has passed, and we haven’t accomplished what we wanted to. We might have barely scratched the surface.

What you can do about this:

This is my Virgo ascendant stepping up for a moment, but honestly? Make a list.

Write down all the wonderful things that have happened to you in the past year.

Never mind things that you’ve accomplished (though feel free to add those in too), but really focus on the great experiences you’ve had.

Consider going all out with it like a vision board, if that appeals to you. Seriously, get out the markers and glitter and make this super creative.

Now, write out/draw all the great things that made you smile. 

The books you read, movies you loved, great meals you prepared.

Did you get some wonderful compliments from people? Write those down.

Made some new friends? There you go.

You’ve undoubtedly had some great experiences since your last birthday, and now’s the time to really appreciate them. Gratitude can go a long way to improve your mood and overall perspective!

So what if you didn’t accomplish this or that goal; you still achieved a LOT, and what you did is what matters most.

4. You feel lonely and unloved.

For people who struggle with friendships and other close personal ties, the onslaught of insincere greetings can create a swell of sadness and depression.

People who make no effort to stay in touch the other 364 days of the year just phone it in with a pithy sentence on Facebook, and that’s the end of it.

Some people would really prefer if a few close friends took them out for dinner, or did some other fun activity together. But if nobody makes the effort, nobody even sends a card, that can make a person feel really lonely and unloved.

It can be even worse if someone makes birthday party plans for themselves and nobody shows up. That goes well beyond disheartening to devastating, and humiliating. 

What you can do about this:

Take whatever steps are needed to make this day all about you

Book a few days off work, stay off social media, maybe go to a spa or do a meditation retreat.

Stock up on your favorite foods, turn off your phone, spend time with your pets, amazing movies, designer hot chocolate… whatever makes you happiest.

Don’t rely on other people to bring you joy today. Instead, make yourself the priority and fill your own day with light and self-care.

5. You feel obliged to celebrate, even if you don’t want to.

It’s really annoying when other people expect you to behave a certain way when you absolutely don’t want to.

Birthdays are brutal for this, because most people get all excited about theirs, and have the expectation that you will as well.

If you’re not keen on going all out with glitter and drunken revelry, your friends and family members may give you a hard time about it.

It’s nice that they project their enjoyment onto others and want to do lovely things… but if your birthday plans revolve around eating popcorn in the bath and binge-watching a Netflix show, then they should respect that.

What you can do about this:

If the forced revelry is something you’re dreading, pre-empt it by making it crystal clear to others that you want to spend your birthday on your own this year.

Should they give you any grief about it, you can go all spiritual and say that you’re using this as an opportunity to meditate and get in touch with your higher self or something. 

You’re welcome to do that, of course, but you’re also fully encouraged to make up whatever excuse you need to focus on self-care instead of karaoke and shots.

6. You’re sad that past birthday wishes haven’t come true.

Some people are lucky enough to have their birthday wishes come true. Others… not so much.

Many people hope that birthday magic will help manifest their desires into reality, and it’s really disappointing when those wishes fail to come true.

…especially when it happens year after year.

What you can do about this:

Stop yearning, start burning.

Once again, instead of being passive and hoping that some magical force will help to make your dreams a reality, take action to make them happen instead.

You have so much power and ability at your fingertips: harness it all, be more proactive, and launch yourself into whatever means most to you!

You’re the author of your own story, and all your goals, dreams, etc. are in your own hands to attain, or achieve.

Get that journal out again and write down a SMART action plan:

Specific – Exactly what it is you’d like to achieve.

Measurable – Keep a journal or SmartPhone app to log efforts and keep you on track.

Attainable – Make it realistic, and create small, attainable steps to help get you there.

Relevant – Be sure that this is a goal you really want, and can achieve realistically.

Time-based – Set a deadline to strive for, as this will motivate you

Whatever it is you’d like to achieve, you can do it. It’ll take time, and effort, but you have it within your own power to attain it.

We believe in you.

You can do the thing.

About The Author

Catherine Winter is an herbalist, INTJ empath, narcissistic abuse survivor, and PTSD warrior currently based in Quebec's Laurentian mountains. In an informal role as confidant and guide, Catherine has helped countless people work through difficult times in their lives and relationships, including divorce, ageing and death journeys, grief, abuse, and trauma recovery, as they navigate their individual paths towards healing and personal peace.