Why Birthdays make us Sad?

Every year birthdays come as a reminder of the day that you came into this planet. It seems absurd as to why people would feel any other emotion but happiness. After all, no matter what you think, you’re still grateful for being born.

We all know what birthdays are meant to look like, right?

Something like: a celebratory party thrown by your parents or spouse, or maybe a fully sponsored trip to an exotic location, or a romantic dinner, or a surprise party by your friends, the possibilities are endless. Well, that’s just not the case with me. Every year as my birthday approaches along with it comes a sad sinking feeling as well. No matter how hard I party or take vacations or do anything “FUN” I always end up crying on my birthday and feel immensely sad. Earlier, I never really understood why birthdays would come at all. I dreaded the day.

Why do I say this? Because next week is my birthday and the sinking feeling has already sunk in.  To top it off the one person(my mother) that I wanted to be with on this birthday needs to travel out-of-town. This killed the little hope in me to be happy. So, now the only two choices that I am left with is- either I remain disillusioned and make myself miserable or I take charge of things, make peace and choose happiness. I decided on choosing the latter.

What next?

Since I decided to choose the latter I wanted to get to the bottom of this “sad” feeling. I wanted to find the core reason behind it and finish this once for all. I sat down and started analyzing all of my past experiences and the emotions and feelings involved. Post all the soul-searching, I reached to the conclusion that there are four major components that have everything to do with why birthdays end up being exactly the opposite of what we think (for some at least).

They are, hold your breath –


There it was, my ugly truth, served to me on a platter. All my sadness, irritation and anger were a result of those four words.

Let’s tackle them one at a time.

EXPECTATIONS– The worst and the nastiest reason that can cause even the best of us to hole up in our barricaded bedroom eating birthday cake in the dark.

As a child my mother always celebrated my birthday lavishly. This made me believe that birthdays are magical and need to be celebrated in a grand manner. I grew up, everything changed; head got screwed up. I’ve always had supremely high expectations from my friends, families and loved ones; if not for anyone they would definitely make me feel special; disappointed. No one can ever make you feel special if you cannot do that for yourself; I wish I learned this sooner. Alas, it’s never too late.

I am not really an attention-seeker, frankly, I find it embarrassing, weird as it may sound. But I always thought that I deserved to be treated specially at least one day of my life. Never did I realize that I was so wrong in thinking so. For the people who matter, I’ll always be special no matter what day it is. However, at times we fail to see that because we are so blinded by expectations. Stop it, now!

COMPARISONS– No matter where we reach in our lives, the human brain, somehow, for some reason just cannot stop comparing ourselves to others. We all are constantly living in a world of comparison, which to be honest is doing good to no one. Then comes Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to add on to our miseries. All too often, birthdays become a sign of all the things we haven’t accomplished, all the ways we are behind our peers, or all the things we are lacking. Stop it, now!

APPRECIATION– Even if you never thought about it that way your mind can still use your birthday to measure people’s love for you. The number of calls, texts and even gifts you get can be used by your mind to measure the level of people’s love for you. If you didn’t get appreciated like you expected on that day then you might mistakenly conclude that people don’t love you and appreciate your existence so you might end up being highly unhappy. Stop it, now!

PRESSURE– I’ll tell you why I say pressure.

Have you ever been asked any of the following questions on your birthday:

  • What are you going to today?
  • How are you celebrating?
  • Aren’t you excited?
  • What should we do?
  • Where do you want to go to celebrate?
  • An added question in India, So when are you getting married?

Every birthday I am bombarded with these questions. For some reason, they put so much pressure on me; I start beginning to think that, “oh my god, what am I doing? Why am I not making plans? Why am I not enjoying? It’s my birthday!”

Phewwww….. I need a break. Too much pressure! Calm down people, it’s okay not be doing something extravagant every year. There are times when we all don’t want to do something and just be. So, Please, let them be! Stop it, now!

If there are problems, there’ll always be solutions. I’ve found a few to deal with or eradicate my birthday sadness –

  1. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS– Even better, don’t have any. Don’t wait for anyone to do anything special for you. This way when someone does something for you, it will come as a pleasant surprise.
  2. BUY YOURSELF A PRESENT– Get that tattoo that you’ve always wanted to, or buy that dress or bag or shoes or anything minute. Pamper yourself. You deserve every bit of it.
  3. APPRECIATE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS– It may not seem like but we all have accomplishments, we just need to acknowledge them and be proud of them.
  4. SHARE YOUR HAPPINESS WITH OTHERS– Believe it or not, I’ve tried this personally when you share happiness with people it comes back to you tenfold bigger.
  5. LEARN FROM IT– Pain always comes into our lives to give us valuable teachings. Maybe your birthday makes you feel lonely—that’s true for many of us. However, you can also use that feeling to help motivate yourself to become a better person and strive for improvement. Lastly, find ways to be more compassionate and loving to yourself. Self-care is crucial, and you deserve it—especially on your birthday.


It’s okay to feel sad on your birthday. This isn’t a sign that you’re a failure or unloved. Think of someone you love and admire—it’s likely they’ve felt some birthday sadness at one time or another, too.

If you could tell that person something in that moment of sadness, what would you say?

Now, tell yourself those same words.

Happy birthday!

You’re a Rock Star!

P.S- Please do comment and let me know how do birthdays make you feel and how do you like celebrating it.


2 thoughts on “Why Birthdays make us Sad?

  1. Gobind saraf says:

    Hey what I feel is that u should be happy and contended that u are better off then larger portion of the society as a whole. One should be happy in what state of life one is at. Believe in God and see the difference. Any ways u have covered it nicely but I have a different opinion. God bless


    • Shiwangi Agarwal says:

      I am sure you do. With the times that we are living in, we forget to look at the brighter side of things and thats when the mind gets troubled. I totally agree with what you say and hence I shall abide by it.. Thank you for reading… Appreciate it!


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