Why I Hate My Birthday

Why I Hate My Birthday

Rosie Elebyjian, Staff Writer

With my cheek flush against the cold window of our 2006 Toyota Rav, a salty tear breaches my tear duct and permeates the glass, racing against the raindrops on the exterior. I am four years old and profoundly sad. My dad skips the right turn into our neighborhood, indicating that we will be taking the long way home— a subtle way of telling me he has taken notice of my morose and planned to rectify it with an extra mile of road and Delilah’s sweet voice over the radio station. I am four years old and facing a reality I am wont to reject— my fifth birthday. We had spent the evening at Red Robin, celebrating something I had yet to understand, until the flock of servers emerged from the kitchen, belting a royalty-free birthday song. Spirits were high, which is to say, all spirits but mine. As the servers continued forth, bludgeoning towards our table, I was struck by my seemingly-unwarranted sadness. My mother was smiling, my brother was clapping along, the candle was flaring— it seemed that even the air in the room was dancing. I sat, back hunched. I had taken the bench to my own festivities. The acidity of my tongue blocked out the sweetness of my cake as I searched for a wish to make. I want to be four forever. I used the extra mile on the way home to search for shooting stars. I would do anything, I thought, to stay four forever.

I slam the door and let my back slide and trace the grain of the wood. I am fifteen years old and deeply upset about it. Crawling to the corner, I throw on a vinyl— Rumors by Fleetwood Mac. I lead the needle to my favorite track, “Landslide,” and adjust the volume until my neighbors could mistake it, in conjunction with my wailing, to a fighter jet. I lock the door to block the entry of any unwanted intruders (i.e. my well-meaning, duly concerned parents).

Even children get older, and I’m getting older too.

Damn you, Stevie Nicks.

Laying, downtrodden in bed, I type this article with my keyboard to my chest and tears welling in my blue-light glasses. It is the dawn of my eighteenth birthday, and to no shock, I am less than thrilled. 

Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’

I contemplate making myself a cup of tea as I battle bouts of pre-birthday depression. I have spent the last two hours consciously ignoring the clock as the evening dwindles away, catching glimpses of my puffy reflection in my iPad screen. Attempts to avoid the passage of time were null and void, as when midnight struck, I was met once again with a sensation of ever-familiar emptiness. I am eighteen now, and everything is worse. I can vote, sign contracts, and rent hotel rooms, but I can never be seventeen again.

Girlhood is begging to hold on to. I long for the days of white-patent Mary Janes and light pink stockings. But I am big now— my bones are cumbersome and I am reminded constantly of my fading youth by the crick in my neck. I am eighteen, and I still wish to be four, head against the window, looking for another chance in a shooting star. 

Oh! I’m getting older too.

Aging is a funny thing. It has always been the one thing in my life that I can’t control. Something done to me, not for me or by me. Maybe that’s why I hate it. Or maybe, I’ve been taught to hate it. A woman’s worth is tied intrinsically to her youth. Even when I was younger, I feared the day of my eighteenth, when I could no longer cling to the term “child” as a blanket of endearment. Adulthood translated to worthlessness. I was no longer an ingénue— wide-eyed, sweet, and naive. Women are punished as soon as their hearts push out of their chest. We are taught to fetishize our youth— that our self-esteem has an expiration date, and we are only good as long as our skin is unmarred to the tolls of time. It’s regressive, misogynistic, and plain stupid. Yet annually, I find myself buried in my pillow case, staining the linen and choking on the lyrics of “Landslide.” When you are taught to look at yourself through society’s eyes, it is easy to recognize the folly, but hard to unlearn it. It is currently 12:44 a.m. on my eighteenth birthday and I am no different than what I was forty-four minutes ago, yet I am desperate to turn back the clock, to look for shooting stars, to wish again for my worth to pour in with my youth. I doubt my future birthdays will be Stevie Nicks-less. I doubt I will ever stop resenting myself for aging. But I am eighteen and breathing. I am writing and loving and living. I am eighteen and breathing and trying my best— and maybe that is what matters after all. 

Time makes you bolder.

I’m learning that, one birthday at a time.