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Leap Day Birthday Has Its Challenges


Growing up, I had a love/hate relationship with my birthday, of all things. From the minute I was born, 12:40 a.m. to be exact. I was robbed of something every other person takes for granted: their birth date.

You see, I was born on February 29, officially referred to as “leap day.”

Growing up in McKenzie, my birthday was an oddity. Kids preferred to blend in, and I was no exception, but my birth date always sparked discussions. As a young child, it confused me. My brother and sister were both born in December, yet I was born on a non-existent date. I didn’t understand why I had to have the “missing” birthday. Thankfully, an older lady in town shared my same predicament and called me every year without fail to wish me a happy birthday.

As I grew up, my birthday would cause moments of bewilderment from people who somehow never noticed February 29 only appears on the calendar every four years. And their ignorance confused me. Then there were the questions. Without fail, I would be asked, “So when do you celebrate your birthday?” Everyone wanted to “designate” a proper day for me and still does. Honestly, this has always been annoying. As an adult, I understand the “why,” but my thinking as a child was: I did not assign people different names; why did I have to pick another birth date? Yes, I get it; people want to know when to say happy birthday. I always felt I had to conform to what others wanted to “play nice.”

As I grew into adulthood, I took the opportunities to educate people on the subject; for example, when I would write a check (back when checks existed) at the grocery store, the young clerks would be confused as to why my driver’s license birth date and expiration date did not match. I chose to use that as a teachable moment, to the chagrin of the people waiting in line.

Throughout my life until 2016 when she passed, my mom was like my rock. She always made sure everything was okay, especially when it came to my birthday. Every calendar in our house had February 29 marked on it, without fail, even after I moved out. It was her way of showing me that even though my birthday only came once every four years, it was remembered and celebrated.

These days, I use the subject of my birthday as a marketing tool to help people remember me. Yes, I still get those questions, but now I handle them a bit more tactfully.

Sandy Adams is a speaker, personal brand and career strategist, podcast host, and award-winning photographer. A two-time graduate of the Univ. of Memphis, Sandy lived in Houston for 16 years before moving back to Tennessee in 2020. She currently serves as the official photographer for the American Heart Association’s Memphis Women of Impact and has been a volunteer for 24 years. Sandy’s also the host of the 5th Quarter Podcast, where she shares stories of retired athletes’ career transitions. Additionally, she’s the current VP for the Memphis Rebounders, the official booster of the Univ. of Memphis Men’s Basketball.

Learn more about Sandy at sandy-adams.com.