I’m just coming off the (figurative) high from my birthday weekend. I still feel like my sister will be waiting for me on the couch when I get home, ready to go shopping (again), or eat something junky, or just talk. I still feel warm and (literally) fuzzy from having all of my friends around. From smiling, and cheers-ing, and boozing, and eating sweets. Birthdays are so incredibly wonderful. Everyone deserves to feel that loved, even if it’s for one day a year (though the more the better, of course! Half birthdays, perhaps?).
But birthdays also always provide a huge moment of clarity. A yearly reality check, if you will. A good glimpse into the condition of your life, relationships, yourself. Here are 5 things I learn, every year, on my birthday.
1. Who my real friends are.
This year, I ended the night surrounded by my closest friends (minus a few who had to make early departures (or were forced to) & were out of town), outside Katz Deli, and then a Chicken & Rice cart. Laughing hysterically, snapping photographs, eating fries suggestively (why are there so many references to food already!?), and taking the occasional sip of Qui tequila (PLUG!) from the bottle I was cradling in my arms for the entirety of the late night. I also had a dance party with my sister as my poor poor roommate watched at approximately 4am. In the kitchen. Yes. It was that kind of night.
But these things change from year to year. Last year some people showed and others didn’t. Some people called and others didn’t. A Facebook message is never the same as a text which is never the same as a call. An e-card will never replace one that’s been handwritten. But some effort is always better than none! Even if it’s belated.
2. What my expectations of people are.
For some reason, people think that the world should stop, turn, and focus on them and them only, on their birthday. I can’t say I’ve never felt this way. In fact, on Saturday I found myself asking my sister to table a conversation because she was ” here for one night and it’s my birthday and I just want to have fun!” That’s not cool. The best way to have a good birthday is not to have expectations. Don’t let one person’s absence ruin your night. If someone wants to leave, let them. If you’re too sober, buy yourself a drink (for God’s sake!). I’m not saying you shouldn’t think your night will be fabulous – of course it will be – but fabulousness should be based on things you can control. Namely, not people. People have their own minds and their own lives and their own stories. You never know what happened to them before they arrived at your party. And that’s just it. It’s YOUR party, not theirs.
But if you really love someone, stay at their shindig as long as you can (or as long as you feel comfortable), don’t stand silently in a corner, even if you know no one, and smile to show them you’ve having a good time. Everyone’s biggest concern is that people won’t have fun at their birthday party. So all of these go a long way (a longer way than buying them a drink, I would say! Especially once they’ve had more than they can keep track of…). If you can’t make it, just let them know. They’ll understand! It’s likely that they’ve missed a birthday party in their day, too.
3. How I’ve evolved.
In college, I wanted my parties to be EPIC. And thanks to my amazing friends, they almost always were. Blue lighting, fishbowls, wall decals, speciality playlists, themes (Court, I’m talking to you!). They were quite literally the bomb.
This year, I didn’t want to do anything. Now this is almost equally bad. I didn’t want to be a Debby Downer (as you know from my last post, I love my birthday, and can’t wait to be 25), but I just wanted something small, intimate, cozy, comfortable. Namely, I didn’t want the pressure of inviting people, not having them show up, and then being sad – re how i’ve learned fabulousness must be based on things you can control. In the end, I was convinced otherwise. A smart friend told me that when the day came around, I would want it to be memorable and wonderful and at least marginally epic. So I invited friends to a bar. Not a club. A bar, where I knew people could sit if they wanted to, chat if that was their drunken thing, and still dance their butt off if they so desired. This “bar” ended up being sort of party-tastic (dark, crowded, bumpin’), but everyone had a great time. And it may not have been as massively epic as my college birthdays (none of the aforementioned lighting, etc…. Though I could probably argue that it was), but for me, it was memorable and wonderful and frankly, just what I wanted! That’s so much more than I could have asked for.
4. How much people actually love me / How lucky I am.
Isn’t it astonishing? The amount of love you feel on your birthday? The people who will go buck wild, jumping on and off the crazy train, just to celebrate you? Good Lord. It’s amazing.
This is why birthdays are the shit. Seriously.
5. How much I love certain people.
This should be relatively self explanatory. It’s a case of “IF YOU LOVE [IT/THEM] SO MUCH WHY DON’T YOU MARRY [IT/THEM]!?!” Well, I will. I will marry them. And I will use Blakey Lively’s perfect engagement ring to propose. To show them this is true love.
I also learned one more thing. I can’t quite mentally justify it needing its own paragraph, so I’ll just put it out there here. 6. How important it is to wear a really great outfit. And maybe get a good manicure.
Happy birthday to me!