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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

my thoughts on birthdays

I turned 24 today and thought I'd take this time to discuss my general (and oddly specific) thoughts on birthdays. Disclaimer to those that are all about birthdays and plan their grand celebrations months in advance: I really don't care about birthdays whatsoever unless your name is Jesus Christ. If you feel like birthdays, especially including your own, are special, then I highly suggest you skip this post.

My biggest "concern" with birthdays is centered around the idea that I'm not entirely sure what we are celebrating. As a consequence focused person, I think it's important to consider what is exactly gained by (1) today being your birthday and (2) you being born. If we consider other days that we "celebrate", such as Labor Day or Memorial Day, regardless of whether or not you care for the American labor movement or have close ties to those who have passed while serving our country, there's the unspoken benefit of getting work off. On a surface level, even beyond the specificities of who and what we're actually celebrating, there's a large demographic that is supposed to be highlighted on these days. If you're religious, days like Easter and Christmas are fundamental to your belief and in turn world history.

When we truly consider the significance of one's birthday, we are celebrating your birth or your introduction into what we call "life," or at least symbolically. Technically we're celebrating the nth iteration plus nine months (plus or minus) of the day that your parents had a good time or if we're being even more graphic, we're congratulating that one sperm that outpaced the others (I actually learned recently this isn't even the case and that the fastest sperm technically isn't the one that "wins.") As not a very scientific person, this isn't what my mind jumps to when we're celebrating birthdays by any means, but I think it's interesting to note that this is indeed what we're celebrating. You could argue that we are indeed celebrating your existence which wouldn't have occurred without your birthday, but that implies that you are special and people genuinely find the need to celebrate your entry into society at large, and in line with my life thesis and the overall theme of my blog and channel, none of us are particularly special and no one cares about you as as much (not even close) as much as you do.

This is why I find people who host birthday parties (especially in scale) particularly interesting, if not funny. Outside of the social media implications and that one perfect post you want to get out of the event (I'll discuss further later), you hosting your own birthday party might be one of the most self-centered and ironic actions a human being can take. And this comes from a very egoistic person myself. You are declaring that you are somehow important enough to celebrate the day of your birth, gather people you believe also find it important enough to take time off to celebrate this birthday, and are willing to spend money to both host and receive presents in celebration of it. Presents is also a whole other ballgame - what are you exactly being rewarded for? Being the sperm that won when you weren't conscious? Surviving another year? Does that polaroid your 12 friends pitched in for from Urban Outfitters really serve as a celebration of your 22nd birthday?

I would like to take a quick step back here and note that I am not against celebrations and it's always entirely up to the individual (I'm not libertarian by I'm always a subscriber of you should do whatever you want if you're okay with the consequences mentality) to organize something or not. While I don't agree with you, I don't have any problem with you thinking you're special enough to organize a group of individuals to celebrate your own birth either. I will note that if we follow the logic that we're celebrating your birth and the idea that your entry into life is important, it's probably not that significant that you are the one that believes such facts to be true, but much more important that others believe so. In an ideal world that coincides with what I think birthdays are supposed to be about, someone else (or an ever growing group of others) should coordinate and organize your birthday. But clearly that's not the case.

Here's where I think birthdays actually serve a purpose in today's day and age where it's almost hard to not know someone's birthday (especially girls) as they repost their friends' story collages on their stories to let you know it's their birthday. I do think, with all my cynical views on whether you're special or not aside, that it's a good excuse to reflect on your past year of life as it serves as a milestone and have those that you care about in your life appreciate you a little extra for 24 hours. That's not necessarily celebrating your birth or your existence, but almost like an annual notification to "give Bryan some extra love." I do think I'm getting softer on this end of thinking and think it's important to remind yourself and others that you exist and if it comes down to a LinkedIn notification letting everyone know you were born on this day 24 years ago, so be it. On a related note, it also serves as a perfect opportunity to start a conversation or "slide in" as the youngins call it, with someone you've been out of touch in awhile with an extended hbd message followed by a "how have you been" even though you probably know how they've been through stalking their social media.

Being an unnecessary birthday critic aside, I sincerely appreciate everyone happy birthday messages on LinkedIn and Instagram, looking forward to another year of winning.

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