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Nadia @igotyou

I hate birthdays. I never wish people. When I do, I don’t write them long, meaningful messages. When I do, I drop a cold “Happy Birthday” text in the last few hours of the day. I never call to wish. I never send birthday videos, or write birthday cards.

It sounds weird, I know. I spend practically all day on my phone, and I just don’t have the strength to wish. I thought it was weird too, and I just couldn’t figure out why I do that. I thought I was just lazy. But now, I know why.

In school, I was surrounded by people who I knew weren’t good for me. People who I was determined to change. I was under the impression that the love I had for my friends could perform miracles on them. What I didn’t realize was how lonely I felt even in a crowded room. Real friendships meant very little. It was all about how big the group was when we went out. Make a plan with 30 people, and 15 are sure to show up! There was no depth, and I was simply a backup plan. I didn’t mean anything to most of them. They were a fun group to hang out with, but we didn’t share anything real with each other. I realize that now.

I had other groups of friends- my “Anglo-group”, my theater group, my swimming friends, my college friends (once I joined college)- but for some reason I never completely fit into one group. I had a few similarities with everyone, but I never felt like I truly belonged. That makes for a very lonely life- to be surrounded by so many people who say they love you, when you feel that they’re only friends with you because they pity you.

I have a birthday party every year and I invite everyone! Do you know why?
Because I’m afraid if I don’t throw a party for myself, on my birthday, I will spend the day alone. No one will do anything special for me- no surprises, no friends randomly showing up at my doorstep, no birthday video calls, no cake cutting at midnight, no random flowers and cake arriving, no nothing. I throw myself a birthday party because I’m afraid if I don’t, no one will show up for me.

Does it help me feel less alone? Absolutely not. It makes me feel worse. Sitting alone in a room with 40 people, all in their various groups, chatting, laughing, making plans for what they’ll do after they leave my house and the next day (I was born on Christmas Eve), while I am completely excluded from the plans even on my own birthday.

So, I hate birthdays. And the possibility of me spending my birthday under lockdown and not even being able to invite people over makes me nervous already. Its been on my mind for the last two days because I wished my oldest friend a simple “Happy Birthday, sorry for texting so late” text at 8 pm on her birthday, in spite of all the years she has been in my life.

I feel guilty, ashamed, and pretty helpless.

1 reply

Hey, I can understand some of what you are feeling. I’ve never had a large group of friends, and I felt lonely growing up. I personally do not care for birthdays very much, and I feel like a lot of people make them into a bigger deal than they need to be. They’re just like any other day of the year, and they shouldn’t act as an evaluation of how many friends you have or how loved you are.
If you want to celebrate, spending time with one or two people can be special even if it’s something simple and ordinary. You can just be honest and tell them that your birthday is soon and that you’d like to do something together. Or you can spend it alone and treat yourself - have an entire cake, buy flowers for yourself, bake cookies, take a long nap in the sun. Don’t surround yourself with people just for the sake of it if they’re not really important to you.
I generally don’t wish people unless they wished me or it’s really important to them. But if your friend cares about birthdays, it’s good to do something nice, even a simple text shows them that at least you remembered. You really can’t expect others to celebrate your birthday if you don’t do anything for theirs. Or try to do little things throughout the year - small gifts, buying lunch etc, to show them that they are important to you.
I used to hate birthdays because I felt like I needed to prove to other people and myself that I wasn’t alone. But birthdays are really not that serious unless you make them. Consider what things and which people are truly important to you.


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