While I shouldn’t care that I’m turning 30; I still feel depressed. Why would birthdays make me depressed? Every year at this time I end up in an existential crisis.
I used to think that I didn’t like birthdays because I don’t like being the center of attention, but that’s stupid, we all love and crave attention. If anything, I find myself getting annoyed that I have to entertain, laugh at everyone’s jokes, thank them for the thoughtless cards, and make them feel good at my expense. Yes, yes, I’m old, that’s hilarious.
The irony is, as I’m depressed I still smile and joke with everyone. I can’t help but to smile when smiled at, nod and laugh at the appropriate moments. Dance Monkey, DANCE! I guess it makes me feel better making someone laugh rather than cry.
The more I think about it, I guess birthdays are about everyone else. We’re all equally selfish, the poor bastard having the birthday usually does more work than the people supposedly celebrating the birthday. If anything, having a birthday gives you more responsibility to entertain friends and family.
But why all the depression?
I will admit, my reaction to birthdays has never been typical. I’ve noticed two distinct reactions in other people.
The first reaction is the imaginary todo list. Where you reflect on how many items you’ve checked off this list. Some people have “live in a foreign country” while others have “marriage and kids”. The principle is the same in all cases. It’s completely arbitrary, and no doubt will cause depression since turning 30 becomes a deadline where it’s not clear what you’re suppose to do afterwards.
The second reaction is “I don’t think it’s important”. I know a lot people who have this reaction, and I suspect most of them are full of shit. You’re getting older, it’s perfectly natural to reflect on your life and think about past accomplishments and mistakes. This is how we grow and learn. I would argue that your life isn’t worth living if you’re not taking the time to reflect and examine. Take it up with Socrates if you don’t agree.
All that said, my reaction to birthdays seems bizarre by comparison. I’m starting to fear I’m alone on this one. My reaction to every birthday is an unprovoked existential crisis. Normally I love reflecting on existence, pondering those seemingly unanswerable questions. But on a birthday it just hits me; as if some higher power decided that on your birthday you’re going to think about why you exist and what you’re suppose to be doing with your life.
So, every year, it’s time for the status report. Only I lost my orders, and have been playing video games instead. “Sorry boss, I have absolutely no idea what I’m suppose to be doing”.
Quite the perplexing state: we desire to know why we exist, knowing only that we do exist and with a feeling of self-importance. We can’t help ourselves but to be ignorant of why we exist while simultaneously overstating our importance to exist.
We assume our lives are important even though we don’t know why.
In all likelihood my life isn’t that important, but believing that is contrary to the human condition. It’s like Nihilism, even with a good argument, it’s so contrary to the human condition that the only people who believe in Nihilism are either being cynical or they do so with a Pandoras Box approach (where Nihilism is the path that breaks down the interpretations of the world that prevent us from understanding our right course). Nihilism tends to contradict because of this instinctive idea that our existance is important; that there is a right path for humanity. It seems that our existance is reason enough to believe in this importance.
Most of the year it is. Most of the year my existance is reason enough to assume that my life is important and that through intuition I can understand what I ought to be doing.
It’s different around my birthday. “Hey, you’re 30”. I laugh, I make jokes. I get depressed. I think about why I’m depressed. On my birthday, the fact I exist doesn’t provide me enough reason to believe that my life is important. Depressing, but confusing too, since the rest of the year is different.
Normally I trust my intuition, faith in myself if you will, that the only way to overcome not knowing why you exist is to trust that you exist for a reason, that all of those crazy emotions are key. We are guided, without reason, by an intuitive sense of purpose, a need to belong and do what is ultimately right. Slaves to our own intuition, fed by the instinctive desire to feel important, to feel needed.
See what I mean?! Every year is like this, some worse than others. It’s the weirdest thing… you’d think I’d just write a list like everyone else.