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Last Sunday I decided to rewatch Sixteen Candles to see what jokes I get now, that I didn't understood when I was eight. But while watching it I realized an odd fear that I have: people forgetting my birthday.

In Sixteen Candles, the main character Samantha wakes up excited about her sixteenth birthday, but soon realizes that her entire family forgot about it. Throughout the awkward yet endearing film, Samantha complains and grapples with the fact that she was forgotten, whether it was intentional or not.

Looking back on my behavior towards my birthday in the past years, this fear could be obvious. I haven’t spent my birthday at school more than once in the last five years, but my birthday always takes place during the school year. Even in my freshman year of college I flew home for my 18th birthday. I didn’t just spend my birthdays at home because I love being with my family, but I also didn't want to be let down if the day wasn’t as life changing as it is often hyped up to be.

In the age of social media, it is excruciatingly easy to compare yourself to others. According to Huffington Post, this accessible comparison is one of the main factors of social media anxiety. People, including myself, put out the best versions of themselves online, making it easy to forget that this depiction isn’t real. Now on the list of things to worry about in the world, I realize that birthdays are not anywhere near the top. This isn’t a call for people to stop posting things that make them feel good because I’m not completely self-involved. It’s just an examination on what birthdays are during this age, and how I react to them.

I love my birthday, I find it to be quite entertaining and as of late, I’ve had some great stories to tell because of it. But as confident as I am, I still look for validation from others. This birthday anxiety isn’t something I alone carry; there’s a handful of Reddit threads and articles about it. Birthday anxiety can range from hating when people sing “Happy Birthday” to you to deciding not to recognize it out of disbelief over gettning older. For me, it is trying my best to divert the attention off of me on the one day it’s expected to be on me, solely to limit the chances of being disappointed. If this sounds pretty extra—trust me I know it is.

At the end of Sixteen Candles Samantha gets a happy ending. I think I need to remember that even though my life isn’t a classic 80s film somehow it’ll all work out. As my 19th birthday just passed, it helped me realize that stressing out over my birthday and if anyone would care, is comical. The world doesn’t revolve around me, even on my birthday. In fact, it’s claimed that, “If your birthday is any day except February 29, you share your birthday with approximately 19 million people” (Rosenberg). For the first time in years, I flew back home for my 19th birthday, not because I was scared that no one at my school would care and I would be alone in my bed watching Say Yes to the Dress (which is amazing), but to spend time with my family and eat the amazing pasta that my mom makes. I received lots of love and made sure to spread that love around. If you think that you too have birthday anxiety, my only advice is to not think about it so seriously. Birthdays are a blessing, but they're only one day out of the year. So thanks John Hughes and Molly Ringwald, for helping me put a name to my fear of people forgetting about my birthday, and me in general; I've got a handle on it now.

Hello there! My name is Danner Jaundoo-Baker and I'm a sophomore here at USF. I'm a Computer Science major with a strong interest in being an English minor.
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