The Pressure to be Happy

Of late, I am seeing this funny thing where people are so stressed and pressurized to be happy or make others happy on an important day – say Birthday. If it were not for them being my close friends, I could almost enjoy it like a stand up comedy.

Often times the monotonocity and drama that surrounds the special day is in itself worth exploring. We have the Birthday Man or Woman (all grown up you see), who gets wished through all modes of communication possible (phones, whatsapp, in-person and even SMSes from Finance companies). Those who call on the phones are the most vulnerable. After wishing the usual “Many more happy returns of the day” or just plain “Happy Birthday” or even the newer “<Substitute religional translation of Happy Birthday>”, they end up in this awkward state where they have to speak something but don’t know what to say. They usually end with “So, what’s the plan?”

What would be the plan Bro? You tell me. What do you expect? Of course, it would be the mandatory cake cutting, which people go to lengths to keep a secret while you know what they are upto but have to act as if you don’t. It would also be the gift giving ceremony where the only happy person is one who bought shares in Amazon or Flipkart. There has never been a case of a surprise gift landing well. Mostly, the struggle is between hiding the disappointment creeping on the right side of your face after seeing the gift and the mental maths that your left side of the brain does to guess the price they paid to get you this damn thing.

There have been cases where the expectation of a surprise was so high that the person was dissappointed with the actual surprise they eventually got. Now, this whole businesss of surprises confuse the shit out of me. I don’t understand how it can be a surprise when the person is expecting it. I can imagine the person opening the wardrobe almost expecting some shining package, opening the car door and feeling sad that there is nothing in the driver’s seat, so on and so forth. So, by the end of the day I can assure you that they end up with more disappointing moments on the ‘special’ day compared to happy moments on any other ‘ordinary’ day.

Now, spare some thought for the planners. They want to make the day special for this overgrown birthday baby. They stress themselves out for days, if not weeks thinking of what to do, how best to surprise the already ‘surprise-greedy’ person and also keeping everything under wraps, lest this ‘amazing’ surprise be known before hand. I have seen friends fight it out just because someone spoiled the surprise. Really guys! Can’t we let go off this ‘surprise-planning-gifts’ headache and just have fun that day. Eat, drink and make merry – stop trying to be happy and for once, just be.