If you ask anyone who knows me even minimally, they’re probably well aware of how much of a monster I am when it comes to my birthday. My friends call me Birthdayzilla, named after the trope of brides losing their shit on their wedding day. I’m not proud of this reputation, but also, to be perfectly honest, I’m not terribly concerned with whether or not people find it annoying.

Yesterday was my 30th birthday, so my usual desire to talk about my birthday nonstop grew exponentially. I’ve been talking about it pretty frequently for at least the past four months. The reason for this obsession isn’t so much that I’m overly self-indulgent — although sometimes it might feel that way — but rather because of my fear that I’m not of much value as a human.

One of the ways my insecurity manifests is through appearing cartoonishly confident. I talk about myself and toot my own horn almost pathologically. I make jokes about how great I am in hope that the feeling will sink in, and I seek validation any way possible. For this reason, birthdays are the holy grail.

On your birthday, it’s socially acceptable to make everything about you. As someone who’s often struggled with doing what I want over what people want from me, it’s permission to stop giving any fucks about what people think. It’s also a time of adulation, where friends tell you why they love and appreciate you. When you’re someone who assumes everyone thinks you’re a trash person, being reminded of your desirable traits is a gift in and of itself.

It’s not so much about the presents or the drinks or the dinner. It’s about feeling special and valuable and getting exclusively positive affirmation. But also presents are really great.

I make a big deal out of my birthday. That’s not debatable. I’m not a chill, let’s do whatever kind of celebrator. I invite all of my friends to hang out and get my hair and makeup done. I sometimes wish I cared less, but it is far and away the day I feel the most validated and loved. And I don’t think I’d trade that feeling for a more laid back relationship to my birthday. Also: Who the hell cares if I like my birthday and want to celebrate it with the people I enjoy? If anyone else feels that way about their birthdays, I’m there to support. Birthdays are magical.

This is all to say that while my Birthdayzilla tendencies may read as purely self-obsessed from the outside, they more come from a place of thinking I’m not worth anything. And at this point, I’m not even sure which is more palatable.