Life Imitates Heart

How to survive your birthday

I hate birthdays.

There’s just a natural, crushing disappointment that arrives every year alongside the phone calls and the birthday cards. Maybe it’s because I hate goodbyes, and no matter how much better I’ve gotten at saying hello to each subsequent chapter of my life, saying goodbye to time never gets easier.

Or maybe it’s the perpetual war between my natural chill, “I don’t care”, people-pleasing disposition and my desire to have just *one single* day out of the year revolve just a little bit around me that always leaves me disappointed.

Either way, I suck at birthdays.

So as I roll reluctantly towards 26, away from my parent’s insurance plan and way too goddamn close to 30, I’ve devised a little survival guide to help myself and any other birthday haters out there get through our big days without screaming into a pillow.

9 Steps to Survive Your Birthday

1) Turn off your phone. Nothing will drain you like the constant loop of responding to every “Happy Birthday” message or waiting to see if that one wayward friend is actually going to remember to text you this time. Just bury your phone in a drawer and go on about your big day like they did in the olden times.

2) Remember that no one gets to celebrate you more than you. You are the only person that you are required to spend every single second on this planet with. Go lie out in a cornfield and stare up at the stars and marvel at how surreal it is that you get to exist. Or go get blackout drunk if that’s your thing. Whatever helps you connect to the frequency of your life.

3) Reflect on everything you’ve accomplished in the past year. When you actually take the time to look at your life month by month, growing up doesn’t seem so bad. Keeping a running list of all your big and small accomplishments throughout the year can remind you that once in a blue moon you really do have your shit together.

4) Cry if you have to. It’s your day, for godsakes. Aging is starting to get weird. You’re falling off rollerblades and spraining ankles on a far-too-consistent basis. You’re creeping up 30’s driveaway and you’re too old to teepee the house. You still have no idea how to do this adult thing but your friends are getting married and having babies. There’s no shame in sobbing into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

5) Wipe the dried ice cream off your chin and commit to stop comparing yourself to other people. Those people and their weddings and their squishy-faced babies don’t have the same dreams or priorities or responsibilities that you do. Don’t use age as a magnifier to compare the gaps between you and other people.

6) Write down your goals. It’s a lot easier to say goodbye when you have something to look forward to. I read somewhere once that just by writing something down you’re more likely to do it. (Tell that to my goal of being able to do a single pull-up by the end of the year, though.) No matter how big, small, or ridiculous, write out your goals or a bucket list for the year. Anything that will motivate you out of complacency.

7) Take a trip you’ve been dying to go on. Invite your friends or fly solo. Do you. Be a little wild and adventurous. No matter if you’re turning 26 or 76, it’s never too late to try something new. Take note of the adventures whispering in your ear and use your birthday as an excuse to pack your bags.

8) Turn your phone back on for a few seconds to call your parents and thank them for putting up with you as you stumble through life. You’re only here because they decided it’d be cool to try their hand at parenting. It’s because of them that you get to sit out on your balcony with the last of the summer wind blowing through your hair and type out your lengthy list of complaints.

9) When all else fails, stay in bed. You don’t have to survive anything you sleep through.

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