How to Not Hate Your Birthday — The Fairer Sex Files
Even my dog Rabbit seems to have caught my "birthday blues" this week, and he doesn't even have a birthday; he's a rescue dog.
After 21, birthdays kinda stopped being fun for me. There was a brief moment of excitement at 25, when I could rent a car. I've only done it once though, in the middle of the night when I had missed my plane and had to spend $200 and drive through the night to get to work on time, 4 states away, so that hasn't even been a fun perk so far.
Because I hate birthdays, I usually leave town. A few years ago I drove to Georgia with one of my best friends and slept in the back of my station wagon in parking lots of various southern points of interest. We hunted for pirate ghosts in Savannah and camped on Tybee Island, stayed at 'The Forest' hostel in a treehouse, and went to the Atlanta aquarium, because Belugas are my favorite and the angels of the sea.
I learned a year's worth of lessons on that trip, like: Never leave your car windows open while sleeping under the giant Mexican hat Eiffel Tower statue; there are a remarkable amount of stray cats living in the vicinity, and they love snuggling with sleeping birthday girls, KFC's Double Down sandwich makes a delicious birthday breakfast, using a large stick as a "pole ferry" oar on a raft in a swamp is not as intuitive as you might imagine, and "clothing optional" lakes attract mostly creepy old men.
Monday is my 30th birthday, and I'm not going anywhere this year. I'll be honest, I'm not incredibly stoked about any of it, but I am also annoyed at myself for not being excited, so I'm taking control. If you've got a birthday coming up, and you're not pumped about it either, here's a list of 10 things I'm doing to make sure my birthday feels awesome, and not like a depressing, 24-hour mental slideshow of inadequacies, missed opportunities, and tiny wrinkles in the corners of my eyes. Ha ha!
The whole day.
I work as a freelance editor, so I can do some work ahead of time, but the other stuff I asked to be relieved of, for the day. Working during a birthday you aren't stoked about is a sure-fire way to make things seem even crappier; don't do it. Take a sick day, if you have to. If your birthday is on a weekend, take Friday off, so you don't feel cheated.
My birthday is the day after Mother's Day, and my mom asked me to go to my grandma's house for lunch. Honestly, I love my grandma, but being at her house is like being locked in a dusty tomb full of cigarette smoke and classical music, and she's the only one who was provided with an oxygen mask and age-related deafness. I don't want to do that on my birthday weekend, so I said no. My mom was a little pissed, but she got over it. On your birthday, you're allowed to say no.
Ain't nobody gonna throw one for you, unless you have a boo or whatever. Decidedly boo-less, my best friend and I split the difference between our birthdays (one month apart) and we're having a party in two weeks in the park with 7 million of our closest friends. Park parties are the adult equivalent of having your birthday at 'Discovery Zone' -- coolest possible place. Whatever you do, only invite the people you really like. That's a general life rule; never mind birthdays.
My friend Michael comes over to my apartment to watch bad British reality TV with me about twice a week, and for the past month, every time he comes over my "apartment looks like a completely different place," and he keeps asking me if "I'm okay" and tapping the side of his head, to indicate mental illness or something. I'm fine! It just feels good to throw stuff out and wipe stuff down and put it in a different place sometimes! Sometimes like, over and over again for a few weeks!
Seriously, though I take most things a little too far, a little pre-birthday spring cleaning (or whatever season your b-day falls in) helps "clear space for new things," or whatever hippies say. Listen, hippies are usually right, they just say things in an overly-emotionally intense way, and that makes us all feel uncomfortable and like they can see through our clothes straight into our black hearts.
Specifically something you don't need, that you want. Listen, I'm broke too; it doesn't have to be something big, just something you've told yourself no about in the past. I ordered myself some .5MM extra fine point japanese pens, because I am the weirdest human being on the face of the planet. Maybe you'd like a shirt, or something? G'head.
Little known fact: On your birthday, you are legally exempt from embarrassment. If you think someone is rad, tell them on your birthday and smile about it. Liking people is fun. Also, kiss them; who cares, it's your day! Do all the things!
One of my very close friends Drew was giving me a birthday pep talk and he said this, which I promptly wrote on the back of my hand in Sharpie, and later regretted:
"You can't walk over the line to 30 with baggage; wear it or leave it behind."
I ruined it by taking the metaphor too far and saying something about "not even having a carry-on, because you needed your arms to be free for high-fiving," but that first part he said is pretty good. Write it on something that isn't your own skin, so you remember it.
Think about what you've got going on in your life, and if it makes you happy. If it does, keep it. If it doesn't? AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT.
The second part is a little trickier with winter birthdays, I'd imagine, but waking up early on your birthday is always a solid idea. Get up, in the shower, out of the house and into some kind of fun trouble. I'm going to the beach with my friend Bianca (pictured), because she loves fun and trouble.
"I can't it's my birthday," is an actual thing you can say, and people will say "Oh, okay." Seriously, it works on most things. Experiment with how far you can go: Bill collectors? Yes; did it when I was 24. The picture on the left was taken shortly after I said "No, I cannot take off these birthday glasses. It's my birthday."
There are really only two ways to end a birthday correctly: birthday sex, or collapsing into bed, exhausted and smiling. Maybe you're wasted, maybe you're not, that's your call. Do you, just make sure you go to bed smiling, because you did it! Life is kind of hard, guys; but here goes another one, and you're still smiling. Happy Birthday, to us all, but especially me because it's really my birthday soon.