December 26, 2016

I hate the b'day brouhaha; back to me-first

Something inside me has snapped yesterday. Growing up, I was a mean, inconsiderate and nasty kid. Unpleasant to be around. But then I stumbled upon a great book in my home, called How To Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. Amazing, amazing book. It proposed the right way to deal with people. Full of sensible advice. I must have re-read it a dozen times or more. It's entirely due to that book that I started becoming less of a prick and made efforts to cultivate qualities like empathy, understanding and the sort. Since reading the book, I've tried to live by that code. Of late, I'm tired of being Mr Nice Guy.

Anyway, this post is not about my conduct. Yesterday happened to be the kind of unfortunate birthday that I dread. The kind where people wish me happy birthday and I stand there feeling awkward and stupid and have to utter a meaningless "thank you" while trying to hide the annoyed look on my face. Well, if you're a friend who has ever tried calling me on this day, you'd know my phone is likely to be switched off. A couple of years ago, I started keeping my phone off for the entire birthday week. While I still held a job, I'd always hope and pray that nobody there knew it's my birthday. I don't want people getting in my face to wish me f... I just don't. Leave me alone. 

Strategic time-out. Deep breaths. Breathe in... Let it out. Repeat X 5.

If you're a friend and reading this, here's the best thing you can do to me for my birthday: spare me the birthday wishes, please. Please. Let me have a usual day. That's all I ask. Not difficult, right? Just requires you to be considerate and give me my space. 

Superfluous
Why so, you may ask. Just because. Because I don't like it. Don't wish me a happy birthday. Period. I find it as stupid as a "Happy Diwali", "Happy Holi" or a "Happy New Year". Diwali? The day you release toxic chemicals in the environment with loud noises? What's there in it to wish me? Leave me alone. Holi? The day people manhandle friends to smear colour on them, the day hooligans assume freedom for drunken revelry? What's there in it to wish me? Leave me alone. Happy New Year? Date changes every single day. What's so great about it? I find all this superfluous. And downright stupid. But if I have the misfortune of not being in my lair during any of this festive times and am with people, I try to act normal and not to be a killjoy. Do I ever tell any of you not to celebrate whatever it is you are celebrating! No. Likewise, you shouldn't impose your ways of celebrating these days on me. 

This post is going to be a rant and might not make much sense, but so be it. The blog is called Straight From The Heart, after all. And currently, I'm bitter about this birthday. Like I said, the ideal birthday for me would be just a normal day where nobody brings the birthday up. My birthday, right? Then just let me be! Why is it so difficult! I don't want to cut any cake, I don't want to blow any candles. Blowing candles is extremely stupid anyway. You celebrate, Diwali, right? The festival of lights where we light up lamps? Light is always said to be a representation of God and all things good. Hindus have earthen lamps, Christians light candles. They light. They don't put off the flame. Isn't it stupid to blow off candles and welcome darkness? I find it stupid. Pointless.

What gives?
Why should I blow a candle and cut a cake? What gives? Does it make me healthier? Does it make me taller, stronger, sharper? Wealthier? Wiser? What's the point?


I don't like to do something just for the heck of it, just because everyone does it. That's why I never felt like smoking or drinking. People start off with these things mainly to get high or to look cool. How I always looked at it, right from the time I was a stupid teenager, was that smoking harms your lungs and affects your health and drinking makes your behave like an idiot, and affects your health. They don't make me better in any manner. Why do it then! Exactly, don't do it. So I never did it. Friends and colleagues insisted many times, their insistence always met with a firm no. If I don't see a point in it, I don't do it.

Likewise, Diwali is a festival of lights. I don't like crackers and all. Had stopped bursting crackers at the age of 13 itself because I found reason in my dad's contention that it involves child labour, is a sheer wastage of money for momentary thrill and pollutes. Meditators understand the spiritual importance of Diwali, Holi and other festivals and try to harness the energies that are at a peak during these days. That makes sense. Revelry, show-off etc that passes off in the name of festivals... I don't buy it. It's not for me. 

Makes me cringe
Make no mistake, I acknowledge that I am leading a fortunate existence. I'm grateful for it and excited at all the achievements that can be mine if only I keep trying. It's good to be alive and great to be me. I'm striving to make my entire life a celebration. But I don't get the point of celebrating birthday. It's like, on this day you are forcing me to burst crackers while colours are smeared and I'm not even allowed to protest. It makes me cringe. When you wish me a happy birthday, I don't feel happy. I merely grin and bear it. I feel stupid, uncomfortable and awkward. No, leave me alone. Please leave me alone. Let it just pass by like an ordinary day. No mention of the word birthday in my context, please.

Next year onwards, I'll be holed up in my home and not be anywhere else, with anyone else. Having to honour other people's idea of how my birthday should go comes at the cost of my inner happiness. Leaves me annoyed.

Awful 29th b'day
Yesterday was particularly awful in this regard. I was under the impression that my Facebook profile was lying deactivated. I had indeed deactivated it a week ago, but a smartphone app on which we have to login using Facebook profile... This proved to be the culprit. When I used this app after deactivating the profile, it automatically activated my Facebook without informing or alerting me. It's only in the evening that I learnt my Facebook profile was active. This annoyed the hell out of me. (I usually refrain using words such as "hell", but am so annoyed with this stupid birthday that I can let go of some sensibilities for this blogpost at least.) Seven people had posted birthday wishes on my wall, seeing which three other friends with whom I was chatting on Instagram and Hike (only because they didn't know it was my b'day) too became aware of it and conveyed their wishes. Way too annoying. Oh God!

It might not make sense to you and it doesn't have to. One simple funda: My life, my rules.

Pointless brouhaha
Then, I don't understand the brouhaha over birthday. What's so special? There are more than seven billion people in the world. So what's the distinction in being born? If anything, a person's birthday is their mother's achievement. She nursed the baby in her womb for 36 long weeks, many of which must have been sickening, nauseating and painful. What did you do? Just glided out of the womb naked and bald, something so uneventful that you don't even remember. I don't even remember being born. Do you? Then what are you celebrating? (No, don't tell me, actually.)

I'm not one to turn down compliments when they are due and merited. Whenever a reporter would tell me that I edit well, I'd say proudly say "Yeah", nodding my head as a smirk would grace my face. Amused at my reaction when she paid the compliment, one reporter in my last office told me I should say "Thank you" instead of "Yeah". Hahaha... The point is, I lap up compliments and wishes when they make sense to me. When people congratulated me for a witty headline or a story well-edited, a news package well-presented, I'd say thanks and bask in the glory. If my favourite song Pari wins recognition tomorrow, I'll be lapping up compliments like a proud creator. 

But a "Happy birthday"? Please no. 

I have decided that next year on, I'll remain holed up in my house from at least 23rd to 28th. 

On your b'day
Yeah, I'd merrily play ball when it's someone else's birthday and people are celebrating. I don't want to be a killjoy or a sourpuss. I'd play along, we'll do it your way. I just hope that people I'm gonna be surrounded by in my life get this concept and do it my way when my b'day arrives and I have the misfortune of being around people. Let's hope such a situation doesn't arrive again.

After failing to guard myself from these unsolicited "Happy birthdays", I was getting pissed off as it is yesterday. Upon learning at night that my Facebook page too was active and people had been posting birthday wishes there, I got even more annoyed. Deactivated it and tried to go off to sleep, but was so annoyed that didn't even have a proper sleep. Been writing this instead of honing my guitaring because I need to vent out. 

Goodbye, Nice Guy
And I'm done playing the good guy. My young, mean, nasty version might have been a nuisance to others, but I remember being happy and content. Now, in my effort to play nice, to accommodate others' feelings and wishes, I have to compromise on my wishes. Done. Enough. We don't get any brownie points for being nice any way. And who am I trying to kid! I was not born a nice guy. It was an acquired persona, a cultivated set of qualities. And being nice doesn't pay. Your kindness is taken for your weakness. People don't even find you worthy of a decent excuse and merely say they were "busy" to explain unreplied messages. To hell with them. I'm done being kind and considerate. I'm done being a "we" person, it's back to being the "me" person. You have a problem with that, go cry in a corner. I don't give a damn. Not anymore.

What! 29?
Yesterday I turned 29 and started my 30th year. Damn! That is such a big number! But again, it's just a number. Mentally/emotionally, I'm still stuck at the high-school level. Still get recurring nightmares about an impending class XII board exams. Having finally decided to shed the burden of being nice (which has been a thankless, fruitless endeavour anyway), I feel relieved. 

Different, not weird
There's a friend who'd lash out on me for being incommunicado on my birthday, would call me weird and all. Weird? I'd rather say I'm different. Sure, I don't want to be like anyone else. I was born to be me, to live my life the way I want to, not to suit anyone else's ideas. I have no qualms in saying I'm not regular. No, sir. I'm special! I'm not ordinary. I'm extraordinary. I wasn't born to be the average Joe. I'm me and it's pretty awesome. Nobody can love like I do or care like I do or give like I do. I have my eccentricities, but it's a part of the package. I'm me, that's what makes me tick. But I'm sure as heavens worth putting up with.

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

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