Two days ago, I celebrated my birthday. As I spent some time contemplating my 38th year on the planet, I began reflecting upon how my birthday has evolved over the decades.
I have always wanted people to wish me on my birthday. After all, who doesn’t?! There is a very own “special” day coded into our timeline right from the day we land in this weird world. So, a “special” day obviously means that we get special attention, right?!
There was this time during childhood when the sight of a girl in color dress filled the kids in her class with the realization that it was a birthday day that day. And the idea that they would be rewarded with a candy if they greeted her. That was how I spent 14 years of my school life feeling special on that one day that arrived once a year. There were a whole bunch of people who treated me with special attention that day, and promptly forgot about it from the very next day.
But that is probably why we all try to lap up as much attention as possible on that one day. It is not because we are “special” that day. It is probably because we are “forgotten” during the other days.
Makes sense, doesn’t it?!
Then, there arrived that period in my life, after school, where I had to “inform” everyone that it was my birthday. It was also why I hated the fact that colleges did not force the uniform idea upon us. No one noticed a birthday unless someone reminded someone about it. Imagine moving from a state of ecstasy to a state of depression. It was horrible!
There was nothing that I wanted more than to be paid attention to on that day. It was these moments of melancholy that drove me into making the most important decision of my adult life. Having realized, in a weird way, that the world was not going to pay “special” attention or any kind of attention to me anymore, I made the, now humiliating, but then “eureka” decision to begin a birthday countdown of sorts.
I can hear you laughing
But I am choosing to ignore that laughter.
Around a week before my birthday, I would make a call to some of my closest friends with a “gentle reminder” that my birthday was coming up soon. This would be followed up with another “gentle reminder, in case you might have forgotten” call the day before my birthday. Yes, yes, I was that desperate for attention!
After about seven to eight years of indulging in this embarrassing habit, the communication boom happened and Facebook arrived on the planet to save my day. And everyone else’s day too. Things have now come to a point where we are reminded about our own birthdays by the social media.
That was how I faced a barrage of greetings two days ago.
Yes! I call it a barrage because I spent the better part of my day “fending” off friendly greetings from people I do not have any contact with. I know, I know, you are going to tell me that I could have done this the next day or not done anything at all. But notice the habit here. I have to reward a greeting. I just have to.
My brain, like many others, has grown accustomed to the pattern of rewarding an attention. Where, once upon a time, I rewarded an attention with a candy, I now reward it with a heart, a like, a thanks, a…you get the idea. I just have to. Or the thought of not paying attention to the one who has paid attention to me will destroy my mind. You see, there is a deep emotion that we have stimulated within ourselves with this habit. Most of us think that it is wrong to not acknowledge the attention that another person has paid to us.
But who are we really wronging out here?
You would be surprised to know who. Because the who is you. And here’s how…
The idea of this barrage has been growing on me over the last few years. As I introspect my life and my attitude towards myself, I have been struck by the startling revelation that while I have been seeking attention from the outside world, I have been doing it at the cost of the world that exists within.
The question is not about how much attention the world pays to us.
The real question is how much attention do we pay to ourselves?!
How much attention do we pay to our over-abused organs as we gorge yet again on that preservative-fueled junk food? Do we pay attention to our under-used legs as we plop ourselves onto the couch to watch TV after we have propped ourselves up on a chair in the office throughout the day? How much attention do we pay to our over-worked brain as we spend sleepless nights in the office, in front of the TV, or at a party? Do we pay attention to those poor victims that are our eyes as we shift constantly from the laptop to the smart phone?
What is it that we have lost sight of as we are gaining more insights into the external world? We have lost sight of our health, our passion and our values. Then, there is our future that we have lost sight of. And in our attempts to become the people pleaser, we have lost sight of our soul.
Think about it, are we getting healthier to feel healthy or for the world to pay attention to us?!
Priorities, people!!! Let’s try to get them right
It is time the world figured out its real feelings. And the only way it can do that is to look for answers from within. What is it that I want to do with my life? Peel that bloody onion. You will realize that all that you have left with is, yourself. Remember, the biggest motivation to get up and moving is that first sign of pain around the joints. It is a call from within.
The greatest inspiration always comes from within
All this drama of a post about my birthday is only symbolic of the amount of attention that we do not pay to ourselves. And this happens every day, every week, every year, and over an entire lifetime.
I ended my birthday with a quite dinner surrounded by my family and my brother’s family. During this time, I realized that this was how I wanted to spend every birthday of the rest of my life. In the company of me and mine was a symbolic way of an announcement that I made to myself. After spending the better part of my life craving attention from everything around me, it was about time that I began living the best years of my life paying attention to myself.
For the call from within, is a call that can never be denied!
Here’s to chasing the right kind of attention! Here’s to chasing You!