Forget Christmas, Valentines and New Years; birthdays are one of the most stressful events in the calendar. In the world of social-sharing, there is immense pressure to promote your day, as an almost evaluation of your life.
Just like New Year’s, when you finally settle on an idea, you come across someone flying abroad, hiring a hall or celebrating a week’s worth of entertainment, from fancy dinners, group clubbing and luxury spa weekends.
With my birthday tomorrow, I have been asked numerous times, what will I be doing. As a child, this was far easier to select. I was lucky enough growing up, to have a large garden which contained a trampoline, built-in swings, a make-shift swimming pool and a tennis net which I also used for badminton. This meant garden parties followed by a sleepover. Other years involved swimming, bouncy castles, pizza hut and bowling.
From the sounds of it, I had enjoyable age anniversaries. The reality however, was far bleaker. Most of my friends were away on holiday so it was a struggle to find a group of people. There were two years that hardly anyone could show and I remember feeling sorry for myself. In my teenage years, I did not have many close friends and sometimes just ended up shopping with my family. Because of my insecurities, I hated trying on clothes and usually walked away with disappointment and sadness.
Overall, it has been a mix of incredible memories and one’s that I would rather forget. By the time I reached 20, I was determined to have a party that I would fondly remember.
I became friends with a Mayfair club promoter and spent my early twenties, attending luxurious nightclubs – including the Playboy – and received free drinks, free cake and occasionally free dinner. Maybe it was the ‘freeness’ of it all, that made people actually want to attend. Not to mention that the places were exclusive and associated as ‘wealthy’.
By being photographed in amazing locations, it was my way of fighting back against the people who had belittled me or were mean to me throughout high-school and college. It was a status mark to say – look at me – my birthday proves how much I have changed.
Whilst those years were fun – I would definitely do it again, the moments did infuse reality. It is astonishing how a person can magically shift their schedule once you inform them that the cost is complimentary. If there was a price (not stating that people should spend a fortune for someone’s birthday), even if it was inexpensive, people are known to let you down. I shared a bonding moment with my sister the other day, when she declared that she hated arranging her birthday, as this has happened to her before.
Never have I had a set group of friends who got together and planned something. So going back to my original statement: How to celebrate your birthday, this is what you do.
You take away every conceivable drop of pressure. Do not tell yourself that because it is 21st, 18th, 30th, 50th – that you need to spend a fortune on partying. My ex-boyfriend last year took me to the W hotel where he splashed hundreds on drinks in a bid to impress me and in honesty; I would have rather just had fun in a more relaxed environment.
My 20th was far superior to my 21st and it was really does not matter to me. Society will dictate that certain years are somehow more celebratory but in the end, we are all at different stages in our lives at different times and the game of life is to have as fun as much as possible – not to be defined by your birthday.
Whatever you establish, whether you want to go on holiday or stay in with a takeaway, do it because it is purely your choice. Just focus on what will make you happy and not on trying to compete or feeling that you are missing out if you do not plan extravagance. Maybe one year I would love to go to Hawaii and I am sure that on another year in the future, I will be found at a tapas restaurant. If you are wondering, this year I will be going to a local nightclub with my best friend – I will be guaranteed fun and possibly lunch with my sister. After all, it is about the company more than anything else.
What is your ideal birthday? How much pressure do you feel to celebrate?