There are the celebratory dinners or parties arranged in your honour. It's all about you. And then it's gone and the baton moves on. But for that one day, everyone is thinking about you, wishing the best possible things for you. Well, at least when you're young.
Then it really did feel like you were special and were the centre of attention. We even had a fake cake at primary school specially rolled out to celebrate birthdays, with all your classmates surrounding you and belting out 'Happy Birthday To You'. Yes, you felt it was all about you.
But as you get older birthdays seem to take on new roles. You benchmark yourself - I should be married, with child, promoted, climbing the Eiger, by now. You start to see your mortality - I'll be retiring in X amount of years, "Haven't my nephew and nieces grown?", "The President is only how old?", "When I was 20 I could....". You fall further down the list of other people's priorities - "Don't worry about it. I know you're busy with the kids/work/your business/your own life."
As you get older it's also easy to forget that it is still something worthy of celebrating, even if there's no one around you to tell you as much. You've seen life move on another whole year, and whatever the trials and tribulations you've experienced during the previous 12 months, you're still here to tell the tale. You're still in the game.
So as I add another notch to my number, I realise all this thinking about what could have been, what I should have done, where I should be in life etc is all pointless and draining. Birthdays should all be about celebrating what's there to celebrate. Life as we know it. And that's what I'm going to do.