Pessimist. Misanthropist. Debbie Downer.
If you’re someone who would rather not with birthdays, you’re automatically labeled as a succubus to all things fantastic and fun.
To the majority, what’s not to love about a day dedicated to your existence? What’s not to love about presents and around-the-clock jubilation? Here’s the thing about people who hate their birthdays — we really aren’t trying to piss you off. This has nothing to do with you. This has nothing to do with your wants, your needs, or your idea of what a birthday should be. Take a second to step back and empathize with the person you’ve branded as a negative Nancy. Take a moment to understand where that person might be coming from.
I have never been a fan of openly celebrating the day of my birth. Frankly, if anyone should be celebrated, it’s my mother. She did all of the hard work. I just appeared, shit on myself, and cried. I wouldn’t necessarily call that a massive achievement on my end. That said, I thoroughly enjoy celebrating the birth of other people. I’m all about shopping for the perfect gift and celebrating the fact that on this day, x-years ago, so-and-so came into the world. Because of this day, my husband exists. Because of that day, my sister exists. Thank the big spaghetti monster in the sky for that moment in time. I think people who rag on us “birthday haters” think that we don’t understand the point of birthdays. We get it and, chances are, most are like me and we genuinely enjoy celebrating you. However, when it comes to our day, we’d rather just not pay it much attention. It has nothing to do with being pessimistic.
While I can’t speak for everyone, I have four main issues with my birthday:
Holy. Mother. Of. GOD. “What are you doing for your birthday?” “Have any big plans?” “You’re not doing anything? That’s SO sad!” I always feel an incredible amount of pressure to do something and I always feel like a sack of moldy potatoes when I can’t deliver. Would I love to go on a birthday trip to Costa Rica? Yes. I’m not dead inside. Can I afford it? No. Do I need to be reminded on the one day that’s apparently supposed to be about me that I can’t afford to travel to a fancy island and hang out with monkeys? No. Do I get reminded of it every single year? YUP. Do I hate it? YOU BETCHA. Following birthday logic, your birthday is a day where you get to just do you. I’m an introverted homebody whose hobbies include working out and eating. Why am I always expected to have a big birthday blowout? Do you know what I want to do on my birthday? Work out, lay out, day drink, and eat whatever I goddamn please. Easy. It’s not Costa Rica, but any day that gets me away from my responsibilities and allows for a mental respite is a good day. Would things be different if I lived right by all of my friends? Yes and no. I would still do the aforementioned activities, I’d just see if they wanted to tag along. I can always count on my friends to drink liquor with me before noon. We are class acts.
Ugh. UGH. UGHHH. This is a difficult one. I hate talking on the phone. I also suck at texting. When all you want is to just be alone with your thoughts, your Chardonnay, and your Netflix, it’s kind of a drag when you get a phone call every two seconds. Then, you feel like a trash person because all of these people calling and texting are calling and texting because they love you. It’s a real mindf**k. On one end, you’re like, “You’re an awesome person for taking the time out of your day to let me know that you appreciate my existence.” On the other end, you’re like, “Ugh. UGH. UGHHH.” This goes hand-in-hand with the whole “expectations” thing because every convesl./;;;;;;;;;;;;;
…my cat just walked on my keyboard. Leaving it there. He deserves a cameo.
ANYWAY, every conversation goes something like this:
Them: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!”
Me: “Thank you!”
Them: “What are your big birthday plans?”
Me: “Nothin’” *thinks fondly of a “nothing” evening filled with wine, takeout, Netflix binges, and the ability to not have to put on pants*
Them: “Nothing?! You have to do something!”
So, you know, this is a tough one. I’m touched and love that I’m loved. I’m not insinuating that you shouldn’t call the birthday-hater in your life, but maybe text them first to feel ‘em out and understand that “nothing” really isn’t always a bad thing.
No, I’m not a present hater. I love giving gifts. I love everything about it. I love shopping for them. I love wrapping them. I love delivering them. Getting them, however, is tricky. When people ask me what I want for my birthday and I say, “I don’t know” or (here’s that word again) “Nothing,” I genuinely mean I don’t know or nothing. I’m not just saying that to be difficult. Chances are, when someone asks you this question, they want an answer right on the spot. How awkward is that? On my wedding day, I made mimosas for other people. That’s how not into having people do things for me I am. What a horribly worded sentence. Whatever. The point is, I would rather do something for someone else. When someone asks me, “What do you want for your birthday?” they’re asking me, “What do you want me to buy you with my hard-earned money?” Like I said, I get the flip side of it. I love giving gifts. I also hate the awkwardness that ensues when I feel like I’m forced to come up with something on the spot. I’m not into fancy clothes. Every time I walk into a Sephora I have a panic attack. When people give me money, I use it on practical things like gas and groceries. I suck at this kind of thing. I don’t know what I want for my birthday. I can barely decide on what I’m doing for dinner tonight. I appreciate the gesture more than anything else. I know how hard it is to make money and I know how hard it is sometimes to wrangle up the cash to get someone a gift. If you get me a gift, it doesn’t matter what it is. I’ll appreciate it because that was super cool of you. I sound like an asshole, don’t I? I definitely sound like an asshole. I promise I’m not an asshole.
I don’t know if you’ve figured this out yet, but I have a lot of feelings. Every year, in the week leading up to my birthday, I’m an emotional disaster. Aging is a part of life and it is incredibly bittersweet. I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to make another trip around the sun. We often forget as we’re picking at our bodies in our bathroom mirrors and as we apply anti-wrinkle serums to our faces that those wrinkles, creases, and grays are blessings. It means we’re still alive. It is a privilege to grow old. I know that. It’s also incredibly frightening and lonely which explains why Botox is still a thing. Every year, whether I want to or not, I begin to reflect on the time I’ve spent on this planet. I think about my family and my husband and I am very aware that because I am aging, that means that they are too. I think about my friends. With each year that passes, we grow older and, at times, further and further apart from one another. Change is the only constant, as they say. For me, my birthday is a day where I feel the need to celebrate the other people in my life; a day where I look at them with real, raw love because nothing makes you more aware of the fact that this is all so temporary than by turning another year older. My life is inherently better because they are a part of it. I love them all so much that it physically pains me sometimes; and every year around my birthday, I feel that pain. Call me a downer. Call me a pessimist. But, it’s true. I don’t look at this as a bad thing. I don’t think that my ability to feel too much is a shortcoming. It’s just one of the reasons why birthdays are a little difficult for me and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
“Well, if life is so short, shouldn’t you make it a point to be more positive and to try to enjoy your birthday?”
UGHHH. Look, this is how I work through my shit. The way I choose to celebrate my birthday isn’t incorrect. I do not need to be more optimistic. I do not need to fill my head with positive thoughts. They’re in there. For some people, birthdays just kind of suck. Do they always suck? No. I’ve had some insanely fun birthdays, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have all of these same thoughts on those fun birthdays. A birthday is a transition. I am someone who has to take the time to process the transitions that life throws at me. If that means that I cry a lot on my birthday, so be it. It’s my party. I can cry if I want to.
“You seem kind of hypocritical — you keep saying you want to pretend your birthday doesn’t exist, but then you say that you just want to ‘do you’ on your birthday and, while it may not be a flashy soiree, treat yourself to a day of ‘nothingness.’”
I am not a genie. I do not have the power to make all birthdays disappear. I also really suck at doing things for myself. Since my birthday isn’t going anywhere, I figure I should at least use it as an opportunity to day drink and buy myself a bangin’ lunch and not feel guilty about it. When the “Brittany, you should save your money for a rainy day” thoughts trickle in, I can shut them down with, “Nah, bitch. It’s my birthday. I’m ordering the lobster.”
All jokes aside, if you love your birthday, make it a point to celebrate the crap out of yourself, but don’t make people who aren’t really into birthdays feel bad about themselves. This post is not meant to deter you from buying them gifts or wishing them well. Just be aware of the fact that this person may choose to celebrate differently than you do and that’s okay. If you’re not into birthdays just because you’re not into birthdays, there is nothing wrong with that. If you’re not into birthdays because you’re like me and aren’t into all of the attention, practice some serious self-love. There is nothing wrong with turning off your phone for a bit and doing something for yourself on the day that your superwoman of a mother expelled you from her uterus. Never be made to feel less than or silly because you want to take a day to just breathe. We only get so many trips around the sun. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that fact than by slowing down and doing nothing.
Anyone else not into big birthdays? What’s your favorite “nothing” thing to do?