If I had a pound for every time I have been asked the question "so how old are you actually?" I think I'd have enough to retire on quite comfortably by now.

I was born in Boston, Lincolnshire at 6.37am on February 29, 1996 – so 28 years on from this date, today is only my seventh birthday. Ever.

I arrived a little later than expected so being born on the leap day was a bit of a fluke. The average odds of any baby having that birthday is about 1 in 1,461 and I've never met anyone else I share it with.

There were apparently rumours of Pampers giving away free nappies to families with babies born on the leap day, but that never materialised so Mum and Dad had to pay for the ungodly amount I inevitably went through.

You might think being a 'leapling' is a unique quirk – it certainly makes me stand out – but it has inevitably led to so many people asking how old I "actually" am without thinking time still progresses and people age even if February 29 is not on the calendar that year.

The amount of times someone has joked about me being "only" two, three or four years old is a ridiculous number, and it was never that funny to begin with.

East Anglian Daily Times: Future journalist Matthew Earth on February 29, 1996Future journalist Matthew Earth on February 29, 1996 (Image: Matthew Earth)

I get the fascination, and I understand people asking when my 'birthday' is on non-leap years – March 1 is my legal birthday in those cases, but my parents liked to celebrate over two days when I was younger.

But there have been occasions when it's been taken it too far. There was one instance in my primary school when another class was being taught about leap years, so I was brought in to awkwardly stand in front of a room full of six-year-olds as if I was some kind of science experiment.

And then there was the time when a bouncer jokingly wouldn't let me into a nightclub because he told me I was four years old.

East Anglian Daily Times: With sisters Sammie (left) and Lauren (right)With sisters Sammie (left) and Lauren (right) (Image: Matthew Earth)

All these little things slowly made me come to resent having a leap year birthday over the years.

I may sound miserable but I never feel bothered about turning the next age up when there are not 29 days in February. I was 27 last year and on my legal birthday the most exciting thing I did was take my car in for its MOT.

While everyone else has the chance to mark their birthdays every year, I always felt like a bit of an imposter and never thought I should bother doing the same.

Missing out on annual celebrations is not something that ever bothered me as it essentially became something I got accustomed to over the years. I am not begging for sympathy, as I genuinely am so indifferent to it.

But equally I realised I should not be such a pessimist when I actually get the chance to have a birthday.

East Anglian Daily Times: Matthew at a few weeks oldMatthew at a few weeks old (Image: Matthew Earth)

I definitely marked the occasions in 2016 and 2020, and I've pushed the boat out this year – I have arranged for a group of friends to come to Malta with me in mid-March for a proper celebration.

You could argue that I need to make up for lost time, but equally I am not a self-centred person who wants to make the day all about me.

My actual birthday will be very low-key before I do something more celebratory at the weekend, with our Maltese trip only a few weeks away.

So if you've ever wondered what it's like to only have a birthday every four years, that is my perspective.

But no, I am not seven today and keep your fingers crossed that the world doesn't fall apart soon after, like it did on my last birthday in 2020...