When I was a kid, I thought my birthday was better than Christmas morning. Presents, friends, cake, lots and lots of singing, and all the attention on me. The only downside was that an end-of-summer birthday meant back-to-school time.
Then during the "dark period" of my adolescence, which extended into my early 20s, birthdays were pretty much a curse because of a few emotional and family issues. I didn't get a sweet 16 party or the surprise party I've always wanted so I never looked forward to my birthday.
Awhile ago, the RedEye summed up the birthday anticipation best: you dread the two weeks before it, then your actual birthday arrives and immediately after you realize that it wasn't such a big deal.
This is 100 percent true.
When you're past the big milestone birthdays (16, 18, 21 and 25) there isn't a lot to look forward to, outside of the big 3-0, so celebrating it takes additional effort.
The hardest birthday for me was #25 because I was recently laid off from a job, still living at home after college and I celebrated my birthday with a half-assed dinner with my parents. I almost went home and took a bottle of pills because I didn't think I could get any lower. But then six months later I applied for an internship in Chicago and my life changed :)
I try not to dread my birthday anymore for two reasons: 1) it'll happen no matter what and 2) I still find myself getting excited about it, even if another candle is added to the cake.
On my birthday, I do whatever I want and make no apologies. I treat myself like a queen and surround myself with people I care about (who are free to get together). I try not to look at aging anymore as a curse - like I used to - but focus more on what I have to be positive about: a good job, good health and good friends and family. In the end, that's enough to be happy about, even if celebrating it gives me one more candle on the cake.