The obligation to enjoy oneself

It’s been a rum old week. On Wednesday it was my birthday, but to be honest it was a day better forgotten. I had nicer days Tuesday and Thursday. On Wednesday I was up early after a poor night’s sleep, so when I got back home late morning to enjoy my ‘special day’, I discovered that all I wanted to do was curl up in bed. So I did! I guess that was my birthday luxury.

And while it was so heart-warming to receive lots of messages from various people, all the wishes to have a fantastic day just made me feel more sorry for myself. Oh dear. Too much pressure.

The day was saved by a glass of wine or two with three very interesting and inspirational women I am chuffed to call my friends. But it did get me thinking about the social pressure to have a good time.

In counselling training, it became very clear how careful you should be around Christmas. Not everyone feels the cheer, and reinforcing the social expectation of jolliness can just add to some people’s loathing of the season (and bad feelings about themselves). And now I realise careful consideration should be given to birthday greetings too. “Have a lovely day!” is commonplace and easy to just throw out there as the right phrase for the situation (I use it myself with every birthday greeting, by the way). But I think from now on, I’ll be more choosy with my words. Perhaps something as simple and affirming as “Happy birthday! You’re great!”

Or maybe I’m too sensitive, and no-one else has this problem? Writer…Counsellor… Damn, I know the power of words!

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