My favorite way to spend my birthday is alone. This may sound sad and I totally understand why it would to most, but it’s truly my favorite way to celebrate me.
On the outside, I’m a very social person. I’m pretty outgoing at work and can strike up a conversation with almost anyone. However, it takes a lot of energy for me to do so. It doesn’t come natural for me and it’s something I’ve really worked hard on. I’m normally emotionally drained when I get home from work and always felt the same way with school as well.
It’s a balancing act. As of a few months ago, my boyfriend and I now work at the same place. I was nervous at first because working with your significant other can go one of two ways – it brings you closer together or you break up. For us, it’s been amazing. At the same time, it’s a lot of together time. We commute together, sometimes eat lunch together, get home at the same time in the evenings and are together on the weekend. It took a long time for my boyfriend to understand that I genuinely enjoy alone time and since then, we’ve worked on making sure we both have the right balance for each other’s happiness. It’s not that I’m trying to push others away or seclude myself but rather, I thrive when I get to just be alone.
So when Jacob asked, “what do you want to do for your birthday?” I tried to think of my favorite birthday and how I could recreate that. My favorite birthday was my 19th birthday. It was my first year away at school and with my newfound freedom, I got to choose how I wanted to spend my day. I was walking to class that morning when I stopped into Starbucks to get my free birthday drink. Then I never left.
I spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon drinking coffee, catching up on a little homework and doing some writing. I sat at a high-top table, enjoying my free refills and breathing in the smell of coffee. When I got hungry, I wandered over to Heirloom, the best sandwich shop Iowa City has to offer, and got the Italian sandwich. I sat by myself at one of the communal tables, happy to be in the company of others, but just people watching. Occasionally my phone would ring as family or friends called to wish me well. We would chat for a few minutes and then I’d go back to watching others sit down for lunch or quickly grab food as they hurried off to class.
When I was finished I went to all three of Iowa City’s clothing stores and did a little shopping in the downtown. I bought four tops during a BOGO 1/2 off sale. Satisfied with my haul, I saw it was getting late and decided to head back to my dorm.
My friends and I went to the dining hall for dinner, a less than glamorous birthday dinner, but that’s what you get on a college budget. After a day alone, I felt refreshed and excited to spend time with my friends. They surprised me with way too many Molly’s cupcakes when we got back to my room where we hung out before calling it a night relatively early.
It was the simplest birthday I’ve had, but by far my favorite. So my answer to Jacob’s question was, “I want to spend it alone.” I took the day off of work and we’ll be headed out to dinner tonight and I can’t think of any other way I’d want to spend my day. It’s probably for the best because last year’s birthday, while memorable, (I spent 7 hours at brunch, had a pitcher of punch by myself, laid on a patio petting a dog and cried when Walgreens was closed that night), shouldn’t be recreated.
You shouldn’t feel pressured on your birthday to make other’s happy by throwing a big party or going out. If that’s your style though, you better slap some glitter on your face and put on your best mini dress, because you got pictures to ‘gram, girl! If breakfast is your favorite meal of the day, tell your people to wake the eff up because you’re all going to get scrambled eggs. If you want to all stay at home and watch a movie, tell your crew to bring the snacks. If you simply want to be alone, turn off your phone and don’t let others make you feel guilty. You’re not going to make all of your family and friends happy and that’s ok. What’s important is that you’re happy, because this day is all about you, and you shouldn’t feel selfish for treating it exactly as such.
But also don’t forget to call the people who raised you. Tell them thanks.