For the past six or seven years, I've been switching my phone off on my birthday. The reason - I found it very strange/fake that people would remember me only on this one day, and behave like complete strangers for the rest of the year. My social anxiety was also a big reason why I preferred to distance myself from everyone.
However, this year I realized that it was something deeper. Over the years, thanks to the bad experiences I've had, and the mean things people have said to me in order to put me down, I made myself believe that every single person was judging me, when in fact, nobody close to me really was. The people who really mattered to me were always extremely loving and supportive, and I should have considered myself the luckiest person in the world for having them in my life. But instead, I consistently chose to concentrate on the haters and to amplify their voices inside my head, so that I could tear myself down even more.
I felt that certain friends considered me a failure in life, having not cleared an examination after many attempts, and by speaking to them I would be reminded of that fact. But that was only the story I was telling myself - that failure in an examination made me a failure in life - which is far from the truth.
I embarked on a journey of self-love a few years ago, but every day has been a struggle. I don't know why I've been so hard on myself all my life. I am very kind and supportive to everyone, and I go out of my way to motivate them, and to make them smile, but I've seldom been that way toward myself.
This birthday, I decided to change things. Even though I had initially thought of keeping my phone off, I soon realized how negative my thinking was. Confront your fears, they say. And that's what I did - I kept my phone on, and decided to stop running away from people who wished me well. Initially I stared at the screen wondering whether I should answer the calls or not. But then I answered them, and you know what? The world didn't end! Yes, my anxiety went through the roof and I was literally shivering by the end of the day, but deep down I felt good. I felt relieved that I had gotten to the root of what was making me feel so rotten on my birthday all these years.
It will take a lot of time for me to get over my social anxiety, but this small step has made a huge difference. I now know that no fear can control me unless I let it. I know that I am lucky to have such loving people in my life, who make me so happy. And lastly, I know that I am deserving of love, especially from myself. This small step has made my struggle a little less tough, and I definitely feel more free.
I am grateful to my mum and my late dad, for always motivating me to pursue my dreams. My mum has been my best friend and my rock since I was young, and I don't know what I'd do without her. She has always stood by my side, never failing to lend me a helping hand or a shoulder for me to cry on. She's the best!
A special thank you to a close friend of mine, who is a highly sensitive, socially anxious person like myself, and who has always been a source of comfort and motivation whenever I've been anxious. She made me realize a few months ago that success isn't measured by a degree or a fancy job, but in what a person aims to be in life -- if you are a little closer to being the person you've always wanted to be (sans all the materialistic goals), then you are already a success.
I've always wanted to help people, and I have tried my best to do so over the years. I hope and pray to be of more assistance to others in the future, to spread a little kindness in a world consumed by hatred - that's my birthday wish for this year.
A big thank you and a big hug to everyone who made my birthday so memorable. Love you all!
Thank you for reading! Stay blessed!