Birthday bothers

birthday

So tomorrow, I turn the ripe old age of 28. One step closer to 30…

Personally, it’s not that big of a deal to me, but then birthdays in general have kind of been a bit of a non-event for me since I turned 21. With each year that’s passed, my “celebrations” have become smaller and smaller to the point that last year I didn’t even bother doing anything with my mates – instead I went out for a meal with mine and my girlfriend’s family (not that that’s a bad thing of course – it was lovely).

Losing time

I don’t know if this is just a normal process everyone goes through as they get older, but I don’t really see a birthday as much of a reason to celebrate anymore – I mean, after all, I’m just running out of time for me to do what I want to in life.

I’ve blogged about this feeling before where it kind of feels like I’ve hit a bit of a quarter-life crisis. I’ve got to an age now where I feel I should have my own place, have a decent career under my belt and maybe even be considering a family. I haven’t got any of those things right now. I still live in my mum’s house, I haven’t even completed two whole years of full-time work yet and quite frankly, having kids is a much more realistic option in about 5/6 years than it is right now.

I find it pretty hard to put these things to the back of my mind at the most of times, but it’s a particular problem when a birthday comes around. It just gets me thinking whether I’m doing the right thing in life. Do I really have a job I enjoy? Am I following the right career path in general? Why is it that my friends are so much better off than I am?

Under the spotlight

So already, I feel like it’s pretty easy to see why I never treat birthdays as much of a big deal. But on top of that, the general feeling I have on a birthday is that I’m under the spotlight.

“Of course you feel like that, it’s your birthday you doughnut”I hear you cry. The difference is that I feel like most people can deal with being centre of attention from time to time, but unfortunately I HATE that feeling so much that I actively avoid it in all situations.

To me, it’s the same kind of fear as being up on stage. Everyone is focused on you like they’re expectant of something good and you have to entertain them. On top of that, I feel like the birthday person is supposed to be the one getting people to mingle – which I’m not the best at doing because of the fact that I have friends from multiple friend groups. That means that when it comes to creating a guestlist, it becomes this mish-mash of people that have never met before. That just gets me panicking about how they’ll interact with each other. Will the atmosphere be uncomfortable? Will they get on? Is it my fault if they don’t?

Clinging on to my youth

After all of that complaining, I have a confession to make: this year I’ve decided to do something a bit proper and have gathered a small group of us to go to a ping pong bar in London.

Kind of counters my fears right?

Well I’ll tell you why I’m doing something this year: because I want to – and I’m not letting any of the feelings of anxiety that I usually have around this time get in the way. I’ve even gone as far as creating an official Facebook event and invited people to it (shock horror!) – although I did avoid making it for a good two weeks because I was too scared that a load of the people I invited would say they were busy…

As I said, it’s a ping pong bar but it also lets you play beer pong so me and my mates can all try and re-enact our years at university. I’m hoping it’ll just be like old times and from the eight close mates of mine that have already said they’re coming, I’m actually pretty excited that it will be.

Hopefully this will be a year I forget about all the anxiety and just enjoy my birthday!

Let’s see…

Speak soon.

‘Tis the season!… for anxiety

 

seasonal-anxiety

Yeah I know that Halloween’s just gone and it’s not exactly Christmas yet, but you’ll see what I mean soon enough.

The period between now until the New Year is always rammed full of social events like Halloween, NFL London games, my birthday, and of course Christmas and New Year. Even though I really do enjoy this time of year, it plays absolute havoc with my anxiety.

Three (and over) is a crowd

The reason I find it such an anxiety-inducing period? Because pretty much every event this time in the year is in a group.

To most people, that probably sounds great. You’re getting to see a lot more friends than perhaps you normally would right? Well, for me, it depends on the exact circumstances and combination of people as to whether I can actually enjoy being in that group.

Take the three NFL games in London for example. Every year, I go along with a couple of my closest mates which results in a rather awkwardly-numbered group of three. Unfortunately – even though I enjoy the football – there’s almost always one game which I dread and end up hating altogether.

Part of that is because of the people I’m with. On their own, they can be great friends, but put them together, and all of a sudden I’m a clown to be ridiculed. I always play along with any ‘banter’ (god I hate that word) because I always think that I don’t want it to be awkward if I suddenly ask them to stop with their joking. So I let it continue like some sort of scapegoat to absorb the ridicule and make the other two feel better about themselves.

Unfortunately, this is something that seems to happen a lot in social situations like these. Not so much in bigger groups because people tend to pair up and talk to each other. But when there’s an odd number, I always seem to be the one absorbing the hits to the ego.

A family affair

Another aspect of this period that gets my anxiety flaring is that there’s plenty of family time. Again, most normal people would think of it as a great thing, you get to see the ones you love for more time than you usually would. But, much like in social situations with my closest mates, I seem to always take on the role of the clown for everyone to take shots at.

Partly responsible for the dynamic is more than likely because I’m the youngest of three brothers – my older brothers nine and 10 years older than me respectively. I’m therefore the ‘baby’ of the family. Because of that, both of my brothers tend to revert to the same behavioural pattern that they always have done – teaming up and taking the piss out of their younger brother.

There was a time when I was OK with that; after all, it’s not like there was anything I could do about it. But now that I’m 27, it feels a bit old hat and, quite frankly, just plain disrespectful.

Taking things too seriously

The reasonable part of me thinks that I’m just taking these things too seriously. These people are my friends and loved ones after all so they’re not exactly trying to hurt my feelings deliberately… but can you seriously blame me when it feel like it’s a constant occurrence?

I do also feel like a part of it is my fault. Even though situations like this affect me, I never do anything about it. Like I said earlier, I don’t want what could be a nice relaxing situation for my the people around me to become a really awkward affair when I ask them to stop. I mean, I don’t want to be a downer right?

So I’m going to trundle along for the next few weeks until New Year and no doubt find myself in all of these social situations, during which I’ll have a bunch of similar thoughts to those I’ve written above. Hopefully they won’t get in the way of my enjoyment because this really is my favourite time of the year.

Let’s see how it goes.

Speak soon.

P.S. this post was a real brainstorm of what’s been going on in my head over the past few weeks so I’m sorry if it’s a bit all over the place. Hopefully it didn’t depress you too much. I’m a cheery person in real life – honest!

Time for change

warhol

For some reason, October is a particularly busy period for me every year. Pretty much all of my free time has been occupied so far this month and I’m pretty certain that’s not going to change until Halloween passes.

Amidst all of the busyness though, I’ve been thinking about things. That’s incredibly vague so let me be specific.

I think it’s about time we start talking about mental health.

And I don’t mean what is already being done by all of the amazing bloggers or the incredible charities out there. I mean actually talking to each other, helping each other out, and sharing our experiences to really start to make it a mainstream subject. Because I don’t know about you, but for all of the amazing work that’s being done, to me there is still a stigma about it that prevents us from talking about mental health as we would talk about anything else in life.

And we should because, whether we like it or not, it really is something that will always be present in life, and from the looks of things, mental health issues are going to be more common in the future than they are now.

If there’s anything that events like World Mental Health Day highlight is that there’s so many of us that have experienced mental health issues either personally or through someone we know.

How about we take the kind of communication and activity seen during events like World Mental Health Day and do it every day? If we start doing that, only then will the stigma that unfortunately still shrouds mental health be broken down and – hopefully – fewer people will be embarrassed to seek help and suffer because of it.

I think it’s time for a change.

Watch this space.