I’m having a first world problem and it has to do with my birthday.

The problem is that I’m highly ambivalent about whether I should celebrate my 50th birthday in a “big” way. Not a big deal, you think?

Why I feel stress around this choice

It goes something like this:  I’m at an event where the performer sings about our mutual friend who planned an adventure to Costa Rica so she could wake up to the sound of Howler Monkeys on her 50th birthday.  A few weeks later, a friend celebrates her birthday at a luxury spa resort with her spouse. Then, I hear about three girlfriends who took a short international trip for their 50th.

Am I in the throes of ‘compare and despair’? Perhaps somewhat.

Am I feeling pressure as a result of the apparent belief–at least in Canada–that one’s 50th is an important milestone that ought to be celebrated with fanfare? Mm-mm, yup.

The main issue, however, is that my upcoming birthday is bringing up my discomfort (possibly even distress) around treating myself, celebrating me, and being in the spotlight.

Isabeau with party hat looking reluctant

Treat myself?

I’ve never been much of a big-celebrate-and-treat myself person. I tend to celebrate things simply or not at all. Sometimes I like that about myself: i.e., less consumerism, a tiny revolt against mass marketing, happy with simple things etc. Other times I don’t; for example, when my partner and I ignore our “anniversary”, or when I disregard a personal accomplishment.

With respect to my birthday (January 25), the me-factor has been significantly reduced over the past 22 years because my spouse’s birthday is January 26 (so we do something together) and our daughter’s is January 27. Of course, our daughter’s has been the focus for the past 13 years.

This upcoming 50th birthday, therefore, has me in a bit of state. Not because of my age (ok, well maybe a bit–but it’s not a surprise), but more because I’m faced with a decision about how to recognize this event. Though part of me would like to act as if it were just another birthday, I’ve clearly succumbed to the belief that this one is different. And, as a result, I am faced with a decision which, to me, ultimately boils down to: do I treat myself in a special way?

So, what am I going to do?

At the time of writing this post, I still haven’t fully decided. I know I will have dinner with my family, spend time with my father, and enjoy nature. Sometime around the 25th, I will treat myself to a massage.

I also DO want to do something slightly out-of-the-ordinary…something that symbolizes me treating myself. Because, birthday or no birthday, this is an ongoing challenge for me. And something I’m determined to work on.

Feel free to check-in with me!

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