Tomorrow I am faced with another birthday. It’s not that I don’t like aging and all the glories that come with it (slower metabolism, bad knees, etc.), I actually love each year of my life and I have never wanted to “turn back the clock”. Granted, I will be turning twenty-two, not a real “where has my life gone” birthday, but I am satisfied with my life, more than satisfied, and very eager for what the future will bring.
No, the reason I am not looking forward to my birthday is because there will be a lot of attention focused on me. I hate having the spotlight on me. I don’t like when people say nice things about me or point out what I am doing. I like to deflect when that happens. When people tell me I dress nice, usually when I am wearing a skirt or dress, I say “Thanks, I couldn’t find any pants this morning.” When people compliment a shirt “I like that color” I say “me too, it’s very bright”. My goal is to keep the focus away from me. I have a hard time listening to praise for a job well done. I don’t think I should get kudos for doing the tasks assigned to me at my internship.
Which leads to my birthday. I don’t like the idea of a whole day focused on me. Maybe growing up in a big family has something to do with it, but I am not used to standing alone in the limelight. I shared all of my birthday’s with my older sister Theresa and that suited me just fine. Even my surprise sweet sixteen party I shared with T (she turned 18), and it was excellent. I would rather be baking cakes and throwing parties for my friends then having people do that for me. Luckily, as you get older, fewer people give you presents or call you or even remember it is your big day. Still, with Facebook around, a lot more people than I feel comfortable with wish me happy.
It’s not that I think I don’t deserve to have attention on my birthday. I just don’t know why I must have so much attention. Can’t everyone just wish me happy birthday all at once and get it over? This year my birthday will drag over at least two days. The staff at my internship found out it is my birthday and want me to find some way to celebrate (go out to lunch, or get treats, or something). I just don’t know how to politely say yes, but I also don’t know how to graciously accept.
It’s something I have always struggled with. It reminds me of when Jesus washes the feet of his disciples and Simon Peter declares that Jesus will never wash his feet. Can you imagine how uncomfortable it must have been for these men to have their leader kneeling before them performing the role of a servant? It would be unbearably agonizing. And that is how I feel when people focus on me. I should be the server, not the served. One of my greatest struggles is accepting that at different times I need to be both the served and the server. So this year on my birthday, I am going to pray for a little extra grace and humility to humbly accept all the unearned well wishes.