Celebrate Self-Reflection: 7 Questions To Ask Yourself On Your Birthday

Birthdays are unavoidable. The right answers can make you glad that they are.


Thankfully, I don't have an issue with aging. With all that goes on in the course of one year, I personally find it a true blessing to be able to make it to another birthday in my right mind, in good health and with my needs met. That doesn't mean that I don't trip by how fast birthdays seem to roll around the older that I get, though. Shoot, back when I was an adolescent, it seemed like becoming a year older took FOR-E-VER. Now? Lawd. It's more like after three months tops, I'm trying to get used to saying that I'm a whole 'nother age. Yet, like they say, "If you're not living, you're dying" and you know what—if you're not aging, the same sentiment basically applies.

That said, although there are so many things that make us one of us different people, there are several things that we each have in common too. One of them is we each have a birthday. One that rolls around every 12 months. Whether you're someone who is totally stoked about your big day, no matter how many candles are on your cake, or you're someone who close to hyperventilates at the mere thought of getting older, here are seven questions that would be a good idea to ask yourself (and journal the answers to), every year, just so you can gain even more clarity about how special birthdays actually are—and why it's such a good thing that you've reached a brand spanking new year.

1. What Did the Past 12 Months Teach You?


If I've got a personal motto about birthdays, it's if you've been making the absolute most of the time between your last birthday and the one that is coming up, by the time your official day arrives, you should be more than happy to move on to another year. Yep, I definitely believe that a part of the reason why so many folks struggle with their birthdays is because they don't value their time as much as they should have. Take this year, for me, for example. I spent quite a bit of time learning how to embrace my femininity more, how to make peace with my decision to not conceive children and how to make plans that will prepare me for the next 10 years or so. Adding that to getting some of my financial areas in order and doing some inventory in a few of my relationships, chile, this year was well spent. So much so that by the time June 17 (my birthday) comes around, I'll be more than ready to be on some new ish. This year taught me a lot and I've grown. It's time for a shift.

So yeah, let's start there. Whether your birthday is next week or six months from now, a few days prior to its arrival, pull out a journal and do some writing about what the past 12 months have taught you and, in some ways, even prepared you for. Once you're done, you too might realize that turning a new age is very similar to turning over a new leaf so that you can fully embrace what is to come.

2. If Getting Older Bothers You, Why Is That?


Not sharing your age—your real age—is most certainly your business and your right. What I will say is the women I know who have an issue with it also seem to carry a certain burden of low self-esteem because they seem to be consumed with still looking—and sometimes even acting—like they are 15-20 years younger than they actually are. Listen, as a Black woman with the gift of melanin that you have, you already know that you are on your way to literally aging like fine wine, so if getting older really bothers you…why is that? Is it because your mama (and grandmas and aunties) didn't set a good example? Is it because you don't have some older women in your life who you look up to? Is it because you're not simply entertained by the media (including social media), you are consumed by it, so you think you've gotta keep up with celebrities, IG models and picture filters? What really is the deal?

When it comes to aging, there's a Scripture in the Bible that says, "Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life." (Proverbs 16:31—NLT) Did you catch the part that comes before the semicolon? Gray hair is a crown. Not just a crown but a crown of glory! A crown is a symbol of sovereignty and glory is all about bestowing great praise, honor and distinction to someone. Gray hair does this. Gray hair does this.

I know that society oftentimes seems obsessed with staying young forever. That's not only pretty ridiculous, it's also super unrealistic. And so, if aging bothers you, ask yourself why? I promise you that it's not "just because" and the sooner you get to the root of it all, the easier it will be to make peace with shifting…upwards.

3. In What Ways, Have You Personally Evolved and Matured?


Oprah Winfrey once said, "We can't become what we need to be by remaining what we are." Ain't that the truth. Honestly, if you're someone who is all about personal evolution rather than just simply getting older (because there is indeed a huge difference between maturing and simply aging), each day should be about becoming a smarter, wiser and better version of yourself, right? Well, if you're super intentional about holistically advancing in this way, 365 days should add up to a lot of internal—and quite possibly external—change in your life.

And what are some telling signs that you have definitely evolved and matured as an individual? You're clearer than you were last year about who you are, what you want, what it will take to get it, along with who and what you need to release in order to make "it" happen. You've also gotten better when it comes to how to take care of yourself during the "meantime" moments. Personally, when I think about personal evolution, the stages that a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly come to mind. It ain't easy for the caterpillar to transform and yet man—after all of that waiting, wiggling and struggling, not one butterfly wants to go back to who they used to be. It's time to see and do some new things. Same thing applies to us as we continue to…evolve.

4. What Toxic Habits/Patterns Have You Broken?


On the heels of what I just said, if there's one reason why I get that you wouldn't be looking forward to your birthday, it's if you are still caught up in the same cyclic patterns that you've been in for, shoot, who knows how long? I remember when I turned 45 and I wrote the article on this site about it (check out "What My 45-Year-Old Self Would Tell My 25-Year-Old Self"). When I did some podcast interviews about how I felt about turning the "Big 45", I honestly was pretty excited about it because I had gotten rid of some draining relationships, had created some healthier work patterns for myself and had learned to be more fearless when it came to certain people in my life who I, quite frankly, used to be kind of scared of (adulthood is surviving childhood; that can't be said enough). And because so much of that happened over the course of 44, I was ecstatic to be able to say that I was in a new year where, in many ways, I was a new person.

Remember that your birthday isn't "just a day". It's a totally new year. It's a time to wipe your slate clean and live your life in a way that you may have never done before. If by the time your next birthday rolls around, you've gotten rid of some toxic habits and patterns, awesome. If you haven't, look at your upcoming birthday as an opportunity to use your new year to break some. Once and for all.

5. How Much Closer Are You to Achieving Your Goals?


Motivational author Les Brown once said, "Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible in your life." That said, something that I think super ambitious people have in common is time literally flies in their world because they know how to make the absolute most of each and every moment. So much, in fact, that there is no time to sulk over getting older because each birthday reminds them that there are more short- and long-term goals that need to be reached. As a result, they are more about using their birthday as milestones rather than as reminders that they are one year older than they were last year.

Keeping all of this in mind, as it relates to your next birthday if:

  • You're single and want to be married. What are you doing to get closer to your goal?
  • You hate your job and want to switch gigs. What are you doing to get closer to your goal?
  • You feel like your clock is ticking and you want some babies. What are you doing to get closer to your goal?
  • You're ready to own a home, buy a car and/or travel the world. What are you doing to get closer to your goals?
  • You want to change your life completely. What are you doing to get closer to your goal?

If no matter what you've read thus far, you still just can't get yourself to feel hype about reaching another year, perhaps look at your birthday as an "official goal marker" more than anything else. Each birthday represents 12 months of goals reached and 12 months' worth of goals to set. Goals are a huge part of what drives us. How can you not get hyped about that?

6. Do Your Personal Relationships Currently Complement You?


A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the site entitled, "10 Questions To Ask Your Close Friends Before The New Year Begins". One of the things that I recommended is that you take, what I call, "friendship inventory". Personally, I think it's a little crazy that we'll take out to the time to clean out our closets or upgrade our bedroom every year and yet we don't think it's necessary to reflect on our relationships to see if we're getting what we need and if we're providing what others need from us. When it comes to both romantic and platonic relationships, a word that I'm super fond of is "complement". Something or someone that complements us completes us to some degree. Some synonyms for complement include balance, enhance and add.

As we grow and mature every year, it's not a given that the people who complemented us in the past will also complement us in our present. Making the time to think about what you need—and what you have the ability to offer—in your relationships and then to have that conversation with the people you care about most can help everyone to see if they are on the same page.

I'm telling you from personal experience, sometimes the baggage that comes directly from counterproductive relationships can hold us down. Taking inventory on your connections with others is another way to go into a new year right.

7. How Are You Choosing to Celebrate?


I've got some people in my world who make fun of me because I'm so big on celebrating my birthday. They say it's a "Gemini thing". Whatever. I don't observe holidays, so the way I see it, the folks in my life are getting off pretty easy since I'm only semi-high-maintenance once a year. And yes, with all that I've been through—and sometimes even sent myself through—you can best believe that I'm gonna celebrate making it to another year. Since I'm an ambivert, for me, that's not by throwing some big party. I actually have themes each year of different things that I collect. That's how I do my birthday.

We're each unique, so no one is saying that you have to buy a birthday cake, blow up balloons and go the traditional route. Maybe celebrating your birthday consists of taking a day off and binge-watching shows all day. Perhaps it's having a spa day. Maybe it's going out of town for the weekend prior to or the weekend following your day. Perhaps it's spending an insane amount of money on random stuff based on what you've saved in order to do just that. The way YOU celebrate YOUR day is totally up to you. All I'm saying is, because you've made it to another year, please avoid the blasé attitude of "it's just a day". No it's freakin' not. It's the day that you officially made your entrance into this world and since you bring things to this space in a way that no one else ever has or ever will—how is that not something to celebrate? Every year of your entire life!

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A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

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A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

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