Birthday Expectations: What is Love?

The passing of my 24th birthday didn’t bring a lot of change. It never does as I never expect the day to be much different from any other. As I reflected on the years I’ve been on this Earth, I did happen upon a revelation. I am content.

That isn’t to say life is perfect. My apartment could be cleaner, my salary could be higher and I wouldn’t mind getting rid of those ‘fat days.’ Despite all that, there’s nothing I want. Life is great and I quite literally can’t think of anything to ask for.

Since I moved to the Chicagoland area, more people assume something grand should happen on most holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. I’m under the impression that these are the type of days where hundreds of dollars (or at least a hundred) are expected to be spend on extravagant celebrations.

All that sounds too stressful to me. I don’t want anyone around me to feel pressured to impress me with food and objects. Believe me, I have plenty of that. I guess I’m just bad at wanting.

You know what I wanted for my birthday? All I wished for was a little bit of ice cream and to spend the evening with my boyfriend. I am not joking when I say I needed nothing else to be happy.

I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t have been a little disappointed if, of all people, my boyfriend neglected to get me a present. I knew, however that we had plans to go out with friends for sushi this weekend and that he moved his chiropractic appointment so he could spend the evening with me. Those things count as presents to me. I am not joking when I say I was perfectly content.

As I was already happy, the other things he did for me yesterday just made me feel spoiled (and very happy). He had flowers delivered to my office. They’re supposed to look like the sky, with big yellow roses, tiny blue flowers and these big white lilies. I always poke fun at him for never giving me flowers in the five years we’ve been together. It wasn’t that I minded; I just thought it was kind of funny.


He also took my bike to the shop and got it fixed! That exclamation mark is 100% necessary because this makes me super happy. My bike didn’t even cross my mind, but I have wanted to get it fixed since last summer. I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say it was no longer meeting my biking expectations and need to be tweaked.

This Saturday, the high is supposed to be near 70 degrees. We’ll probably go for a ride (and work off all that sushi) and now I’ll be able to speed off in the highest gears. I am super excited.

Is that enough for a birthday? I really don’t know guys; I’m super bad at wanting things. There will always be books and video games I will lust after, but I’d honestly rather buy those things myself (I’m very picky when it comes to books and games).

There is nothing wrong with wanting a big birthday bash or expecting half a dozen presents. I’m under the impression that is the typical roll out for a birthday. I would, of course, be thrilled with those things as well. It just seems rather excessive to expect so much every single year.

Perhaps my birthday desires are the result of how I try to live my life. When I consider friends, family and life partners, I expect very little that is materialistic from them. No amount of money a person could ever spend on me will ever prove their love for me. In fact, I find material things are often used as a distraction for cheating or backstabbing. As such, I don’t feel the need for fancy dinners and lavish getaways from the people in my life, not even from my boyfriend. It’s nice, when those things are given, but I’m never going to expect those things.

I can hear you all now. “Fine, TK. How, then do you know if you are loved?”

You don’t, at least, you don’t know using any of the logical methods we use to confirm facts. Love, whether that love be between family, friends or life partners, is something you feel from their actions. Have you ever heard someone say ‘love is a verb’? Love is something you do, but it’s also something you believe in.

Back in college, when I was working for an online dating blog, I wrote a post about love and religion. Specifically, I wrote about how they require similar ideas of faith. Love is not something that can be proven by any human means. You have to have faith and believe. It’s not something you can explain with any sort of logic. You have to feel it in the core of your being. Perhaps most importantly, love is not something that just happens. It takes an effort. Both people need to be constantly present in the relationship.

I get all this and more from my boyfriend. We ended our night watching an episode of Cosmos and gazing at Mars and Jupiter in the sky with wonder. I could not have asked for more.


28 thoughts on “Birthday Expectations: What is Love?”

  1. I can’t even remember if I said happy birthday to you on twitter…I’ve been so sick, i knew it was your birthday, so if I didn’t, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”

    I love the introspective post today, so many questions, so many things I want to say…. but I don’t even know where to begin. I do want to say that I often wonder if birthdays are too big of deal in our culture, I’m not just saying this because I’m a guy, but because, well, I dunno. Its just a day isn’t it? Seems to me that a nice way to spend the birthday is to get a new outfit (for girls) or new clothes (for guys) and then to have dinner with loved ones…..i’m pretty much happy with that, nothing less, nothing more 🙂

    1. Happy birthday TK! I am the same age as you and I like hearing your perspective on life. I am the opposite though, I always want some sort of recognition on my birthday, that doesn’t mean you have to buy me anything though. I do agree with what you said about not being able to prove your love through material things. I think when I feel most loved by others is when I am in need and someone drops everything to come and help me.

      1. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want recognition. I just don’t need a huge bash every year. I don’t expect people to make a huge deal out of it. Which isn’t to say it’s bad to think otherwise. It’s just not for me. I agree that it feels great when someone will drop everything to come to you in your time of need. Still, those acts don’t prove love so much as the reasoning behind the action.

    2. I would very much like you to say all the things! I do think birthdays are a bit overdone these days.I mean, MTV has a TV show about a girl’s ‘sweet sixteen.’ I get that 16 is kind of a big year, but it’s not that big. I had a sixteenth birthday part, which alone was a big deal because I didn’t get a lot of parties like that, and all it amounted to was having about six of my friends over, enjoying a water balloon fight, eating cake and watching movies. It was fantastic. I know my parents spend a lot to feed and entertain 7 high school girls. How could I have asked for more?

  2. Happy Birthday! I’m glad I found out about your blog recently, it’s a great read and I really identify with everything you say.
    I’ve never been one for big celebrations of birthdays as well. I’d honestly give up all my presents if it meant a lovely day with people I cared about. Here’s to not being materialistic!
    Keep on with the awesome blogging 🙂

    1. I agree. But then, I don’t really like being the center of attention. Sitting in the middle of presents while everyone watches does not sound like a great time. I just appreciate the acknowledgement of my birthday and the well wishes. I never expect anything because I want people to know that their presence on my birthday is all the present I need. For example, my boyfriend and I would usually not be together on a Wednesday because of his appointment. He went out of his way to rearrange his schedule for me. That’s a big deal as far as I’m concerned. I want him to know that I’m so much excited to see what he has gotten me as I am to just see him. The same goes for any friend. I just appreciate the thought of ‘happy birthday.’

  3. Oh, girl, I could tell you an entire story about people using gifts for manipulation…so I am completely with you on not needing gifts to feel loved. I agree with Kenneth – so many things to say! Great post. 🙂

    1. I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Kenneth: What are these things? I want to know these things. I am also now very curious about these stories of manipulation. Do tell.

      1. Oo, okay! Challenge accepted:

        1. How when we grow older or a new year occurs, it seems like people (besides you) expect something to change in their lives, when really it’s just a way to keep track of time.
        2. The importance of contentment.
        3. How I think your being content gave you greater capacity to enjoy your birthday and be pleasantly surprised.
        4. The high being 70 in Chicago is awesome. (Of course I’m enjoying much warmer weather in Florida). 😛
        5. Like Kenneth mentioned, wondering if we make birthdays a bigger deal than necessary.
        6. You worked for an online dating blog? So cool!
        7. “Love is not something that can be proven by any human means. You have to have faith and believe.” – made me think about the person involved in the manipulation story (I’ll DM you on twitter about that) and how she receives so much love from her family, but she refuses to see it. I would say that she doesn’t believe in love…she does not allow herself to feel it.
        8. How relationships require work from both people.

        That about sums it up. 😀

        1. 1. Nothing every changes. I haven’t felt like I have changed since I was 16. It’s actually very weird to be 24. I have to keep repeating it or else I’ll accidentally tell people I’m 23.
          2. Contentment is important and, like happiness, it’s a choice. We can choose to appreciate and be content with what we have, or we can always be lusting after something more.
          3. Probably true. I was not expecting the bike thing at all.
          4. Screw you and your warm Florida weather
          5. I think they are. No one needs a huge, drunken bash every single year.
          6. Yep. It was a blog about online dating sites. I even joined a few to review them.
          7. She doesn’t believe it is possible for her to be loved, or perhaps she has no faith at all in love. It’s a sad state, but I think many live that way.
          8. truth!

  4. Happy birthday! 🙂 Your post really resonated with me, and I completely agree. Ultimately, knowing that you are loved on your birthday is the best gift there is. 🙂

    1. Thanks. I think we get loved confused a lot in this world. We think love is something that can be proven with pretty presents or a diamond ring. The fact is, knowing love is so much more complicated. It’s not something that can be gained or given through material means.

  5. I used to walk out of my own birthdays. that is if they even wanted to throw one. I made sure i was never home. just a bunch of family being all nicey dicey. stay home i do not need fake smile.
    yeah been like early days. age 17

    1. I mean, I enjoy getting together with people of my choosing and having a good time, but that time does not need to be some over-the-top extravaganza. For starters, I don’t want to spend all day stressing out about what will happen and if I’ll get everything I want and I don’t want others to spend all day stressing out about whether or not I will like what they have to give. That is all unnecessary. What I want more than anything else is to enjoy myself and for those around me to also enjoy themselves.

  6. I know how you feel. I can’t think of a single thing I want to do for my birthday that would be better then spending it with my BF and I don’t want anything from him other than his time. I’m glad that you had a good birthday and that you’re content. I feel the same right now. I’m just happy living my daily life. As far as the knowing that you’re loved and love being a verb I agree that it is but I also think love can be a state of being that transcends actions. It can also be a force that your body experiences at any time without your knowledge for no apparent reason and only sometimes you’ll acknowledge that it’s love that you’re feeling. On a separate note, you’re so lucky your BF will watch Cosmos with you!!! Mine isn’t interested at all 😦

    1. Really? Not interested at all? Why? It’s one of the most fascinating shows.

      We’re on the same page when it comes to love. It can be something that happens to us, but in those cases, it’s up to us to accept it or let it pass by. Once we have it, it takes constant upkeep to remain healthy.

      1. I think he doesn’t want to watch it because there are so many other things he’d rather watch/do right now. I’m gonna ask him again though maybe we can come to some sort of agreement 🙂 I love the constant upkeep to maintain a healthy relationship. Not that we don’t have our arguments but who doesn’t? At the end of the day having someone who wants to see you as much as you want to see them is definitely the best! Viva la happy couples!!!

  7. Yep, a lot of people say that gushy love that you just feel like you just jumped into a bowl of jello and it oozes all over you form fitting. As you move it just keeps oozing all over. Reading your birthday events and through it all you could see what you love is what you did and you did what you loved. That may sound to simple and trite; yet we often make love to hard and then it never measures up to that expectation. Love what you do and do what you love another way of saying it. When you can be at ease with life, other things the right things take their rightful place. It is not to have low expectations it is to know not to put those to in a way of being accepting. Acceptable. Comfortable. Warm. Fuzzy. Jello! Laughter. Happiness. Enjoyment. Love is one of those words we have made more like a diamond, though it is beautiful, expensive, shiny its the hardest material with very few things that can mar it. But that is what love isn’t. Love is being with some one and them allowing you to be yourself, not an allusion, to be totally yourself and they enjoying you for that reason and you doing the same. Love is being naked before someone and never having to feel you need to cover up or change anything of yourself to remain that way to share with them who you are.

    1. I completely agree. To me, love comes with no expectations. You just are who you are, and you expect the other person to do the same. Gifts and flattering words are nice and happen in their own time, but they are not love. Love is simple, and yet hard to explain. I’m going to stay with the belief. You know when you love someone else, but when it comes to knowing who loves you, that’s more or less something we believe in. We believe people act the way they do because they love us, even though we have no way of knowing their motivations.

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