So my twenty-third birthday was on Monday. I don’t generally like to celebrate my birthday, or at least not in a conventional way with a party and cake and singing, especially not singing. It’s way too embarrassing. I’m more of a hang out with your friends around the time of your birthday and treat yourself to a thing you want but don’t necessarily need (for me this year it was a build-a-bear). And the occasional Happy Birthday being said doesn’t bother me as long as I’m not getting a lot of attention. I am totally okay with going to other people’s birthday parties, but I usually still feel awkward while I’m there. At my Starbucks in Massachusetts, I wouldn’t even tell them when my birthday was for the fear of a surprise or them singing “Happy Birthday” to me. But why am I am I like this you may ask? Honestly, I have no idea. I have been this way for as long as I can remember.
When I was little and it was time to sing “Happy Birthday” and for me to blow out the candles on my cake, I would run away crying and hide somewhere. I, to this day, do not know why. People would have to calm me down, coax me back to the party, and usually help me blow out the candles. The first time I did blow them out without crying I was in kindergarten and I just wanted to show off that I could blow out my own candles all by myself (which most kids already did so I was just being dramatic – you know – the usual). I never thought my birthdays were memorable and the only memories I had weren’t exactly great ones.
When you are a kid, you want to have the birthday party your friends thought was the coolest. You wanted to be the inspiration for your friend’s cool parties. Well that’s what I always thought and I also thought my parties were super cool until my friends would start arguments at them or go off exploring in my yard (it was a pretty big yard) and then I would have to find them and resolve whatever issue it was so we could all get back to having a good time. There were also times when, several months later, I’d go to this specific friend’s birthday parties and it would always be the exact same theme as mine with a lot of the same activities, only spruced up a bit. I never had a lot of money growing up so we were often budgeted which was totally fine by me. Until our mutual friends would say, what they thought was out of my hearing, that their party was so much better and more fun. It was actually heartbreaking especially thinking back to it now because like it was not about the party, it was about celebrating that person.
There was also the time my family forgot to have a birthday party for me or ask what kind of party I wanted to have. I just didn’t have one. To make up for it, two months later at my little brother’s party at a bowling alley that I didn’t want to go to but was forced to go, they invited two of my friends as a “surprise party” for me too. It was fun but it sort of just felt like a pity party next to my brother’s.
After that I was kind of turned off by parties. The one that I can remember being the most fun was going to a bowling alley for my thirteenth birthday but I still don’t remember much of that day… probably because I wasn’t scarred or anything.
My 14th birthday was kind of funny but also not exactly a party. My high school marching band was having an Applebee’s fundraiser that happened to be on my birthday so my parents let me invite a small group of friends and then we were going rollerskating afterward. It wasn’t supposed to be anything big. One girl, who wasn’t my friend and actually never really treated me or my friends nicely managed to make me feel bad for not inviting her to the party so I was nice and a pushover and I invited her. I also said I didn’t want anyone to sing happy birthday at the restaurant because it is usually embarrassing for everyone at the table. A cake was secretly brought, and Applebee’s was asked to serve it and sing their birthday song. Well, they came out to sing… while I was in the bathroom. I was sitting there and heard them start clapping and then awkwardly and abruptly stop. I almost didn’t leave the bathroom. When I finally did, my friends were all smiling and waiting for me because they thought I didn’t know what was coming and that I couldn’t hear the previously failed parade from my bathroom stall. I did and they all came back clapping and singing, just like everyone else in the marching band who was there that night for the fundraiser. I smiled through it but ultimately wanted to hide away, curl up and cry.
Another birthday of mine happened to fall on the night of a football game. I was in the colorguard for my marching band so I had to be there. We were getting ready for pregame when my team captain stood up and announced that it was my birthday and that we should all sing happy birthday. Everyone on the girl’s side of the cafeteria started singing and it was really embarrassing and I once again wanted to hide away but soon enough, it was over and that was it. Hahaha yeah right. It was the end of the night and we were all packing up to go home after the game when the same team captain stood up on a table, reminded everyone it was my birthday, and then proceeded to start singing again. This time the guys joined in and the entire marching band and colorguard was singing to me. I then actually hid under a table because I was so embarrassed and just wished I was invisible.
Lucky for me that birthday wish came true. Because my birthday always falls at the beginning of the school year, everyone always forgets when my birthday is. My locker was never decorated and I almost never got anything from anyone (except for a few close friends). Even my family forgot on several occasions and only remembered at the last minute.
I remember being told to have a “sweet sixteen” cookout because my older brother didn’t do anything for his 16th birthday. I didn’t even invite anyone because I didn’t want to. My mum did that. It wasn’t a bad birthday because there were no real issues but it wasn’t a memorable one either. Besides, after that, I was finally done having parties and I didn’t have do them again. But that didn’t always mean my birthdays went well.
On my 20th birthday, I wasn’t feeling too great and by the time I had gotten to school, I had a migraine. I went about my day feeling like I was going to throw up. I finally got the sweet relief of getting to go home when my classes were done and I was happy that I could finally take a nap. I got home and searched my backpack for my house key only to look up through the kitchen window and see it sitting on the table. I called my mum crying because I didn’t feel well and I was locked out of the house. At the time we both worked at Panera at the Mall so she said that when I calm down, I could drive to work and spend the rest of her shift there and she’ll get me some clam chowder (my favorite soup) while I wait. I got there and my mum got me soup and while I was parking I saw Party City right next door and decided I wanted a balloon for my birthday. That was it. Just a balloon. When my mum got out of work we walked next door to Party City and I picked out a Finding Dory balloon. I was content. She had to run some errands so I tagged along until I finally got to go home and rest. My family all came home and my older brother joined us for dinner at the greatest hot dog place in the world, Gary’s Best (this was when I ate meat).
My 21st birthday was also not the greatest and was probably one of the first times I actually felt real fear on my birthday. I had work that day because I had no reason to request it off. I didn’t want to do anything anyways. My coworkers said happy birthday when they realized that’s what day it was and it was nice. No over the top thing happened. That is until I went to clock out of my shift and count my register drawer. I had turned around a couple of my managers were there holding a cake with candles on it saying “Happy 21st Birthday!”. I knew they were about to sing and I was practically begging them not to while trying not to cry. I was so filled with anxiety I was shaking because if they had sung everyone working, everyone in line and everyone sitting and enjoying their food would likely join in and I would have been extremely embarrassed. They quickly saw me panicking and promptly went in back so I could count my drawer and any of my coworkers who wanted cake could have some. That was the last time anyone has ever done anything to surprise me or sing to me (until this year but we aren’t ready to talk about that yet).
This year I had a great time. The day before my birthday I went with some friends to the mall where I got to go to the American Girl store and cried because little eight-year-old me’s dream was fulfilled, I got some stuff from Lush, and I made my very first Buil-a-Bear (which was on sale because my birthday happens to be on National Teddy Bear Day). Meet Boe:
And the day of my birthday was also great. I got up. I went to work. I came home. I did school work. I listened to Michael Bublé, ate some vegetarian options from KFC and watched The Do-Over starring Adam Sandler. My friends and some family wished me a happy birthday and it was quiet and perfect and everything I ever want to do on my birthday in the future.
So yeah. I’m weird and I don’t like to celebrate my birthday. But you know what, that’s fine with me because I get to enjoy my birthday the way I want to enjoy my birthday. By not doing anything to draw attention to myself while still having a good time and by supporting the other famous people I share a birthday with, even if one of them is dead. On that note, I would like to wish a quiet Happy Birthday to my birthday buddies Michael Bublé, Adam Sandler, and Colonel Harland Sanders.
I hope you all have a great day and the birthday of your choice when it is your birthday.