According to the calendar year I turned 23 last week. I’m not sure whether I should be excited or a little bit nauseated. I’m getting so old, and at this point, I’ve had my fair share of birthdays. Enough to make some rather sound conclusions on anyway.
I’ll admit, I sort of miss the early years of celebrating. Birthdays seemed so much easier when we were turning 8 instead of three times eight.
When we were little, birthdays were the trump card. “It’s my birthday” was the line that could be used to get everything you wanted on that one day. On that day you could grab yourself a giant slice of the selfish pie and not feel guilty about it going to your thighs one bit.
Now that we’re older, birthdays are different. They involve less cake (usually), and more alcohol (always).
To celebrate the momentous occasion that is turning 23 I have compiled a list of things I miss about birthdays, of finally succumbing to becoming an adult.
1. Presents now make you uncomfortable
When we were little, we could never have enough presents. If there was not a large stack of brightly-wrapped, obscurely-shaped items sitting on the table in front of us at our birthday party, something was wrong. Presents did not make us uncomfortable; they made us whole.
Adulthood and presents are quite a different story. Whenever someone asks what you want for your birthday, you shrug off the question uncomfortably. When you were little, you could rattle off the ever-growing list of what you wanted, on-command. Now, you just try to act humble while openly annoying everyone who has no idea what to get you.The only person you still feel comfortable giving gift-giving instructions to is your mother. After all, she has to love you.
2. If you want a party, your mum can’t plan it for you anymore
All we had to do was say, “Hey mum, I want a Spice Girl themed birthday party,” and before we knew it, you were dressed as Baby Spice, surrounded by a bunch of glitzed and glammed 7 and 8-year-olds, fed on too much ice cream and fairy bread.
Now, if we want a party or something that even remotely resembles plans, we have to do it all by ourselves. Sure, sometimes our friends will help (depending on how much they love you), but for the most part, we’re on our own.
Somehow it doesn’t seem to be as much fun when you have to do all of the planning and deciding. It’s my party, I should be able to be indecisive if I want to. That’s how the song goes right?
3. Your birthday isn’t guaranteed to be the best day ever anymore
And when we were kids, it totally was. No matter what happened that day, our birthday was always legendary because it was ours. We were born that day, we were another year older and, holy crap, we were so special. The night before was the longest night in history! I always tried to tire myself out during the day to give myself some slim hope of getting to sleep that night.
When you’re in your 20s, your birthday is pretty much doomed as just another Wednesday in winter. Just another day of the week. We have work and responsibilities; it’s hard to pause everything to celebrate like we used to be able to. Unless your birthday falls on a weekend, you’re kind of screwed.
4. You can’t use “because it’s my birthday” anymore
Now, it doesn’t really matter that it’s your birthday. Work still starts at 9 am, you still will get stuck in traffic getting there and it’s still your turn to hang out the washing.
Birthdays are special, but they are no longer get-out-of-everything-free cards. Your glory days are over.
5. It now often involves alcohol
On a happy note, now your birthday is a fantastic excuse to get drunk. Once you turn 18, all bets are off. Twenty-three is just your third 21st birthday after all.
Everyone supports you on this because it’s also an excuse for them to get crazy drunk, too. Pass the vodka, please.
6. Not all of your friends will be able to celebrate with you
For kids, birthdays are like national holidays. You get a birthday party invitation in the mail, and there’s no question: you’re going. Every kid in the school gets invited and you’d always be guaranteed a present.
When you’re older, the dynamics shift dramatically. Most of your friends have moved away in search of a better life and any hope of hosting a party slowing gets shot down by the pressure of ensuring it’ll be a night to remember. And when it’s not… well then you just wish the day would end.
The bright side of this however is that it is nearly impossible to get everyone in one place at the same time. This often calls for multiple celebrations. Let the birthday month commence!
7. There might not be cake
Cake is a birthday staple. The best ones always make an appearance on your birthday. Triple teared, perfectly iced and decorated, themed and shaped into pigs, fairy’s, and gingerbread houses. Ahh those were the days.
I guess I’ll just settle for cupcakes, brownies, ice cream, cocktails… or all of the above. If it’s sweet and you’re not supposed to eat it, make it for your birthday.
8. You sleep through the night
I was almost disappointed last week when I woke up to my alarm just like any other Wednesday. I remember the birthday eves where your brain was too excited to even think about sleeping. You’d have to have games on your phone and an active imagination just to get you through the night. Birthday eves are the longest nights in history. I always found myself going over and over what we had planned for the day. Breakfast in bed, the presents, what I was going to wear and above all else, the party. Stop it you’re getting me too excited just thinking about it!
9. Facebook tells you when your birthday is
When did it suddenly become so impersonal? Your birthday transitions from a phone call, a visit, and a radio birthday shout out to nothing but a Facebook post or a text message. If you get over 50 people wishing you a “Happy Birthday, hope you have a great day” on Facebook then somehow that means you’re having a great birthday. And all you find yourself doing all day is checking Facebook. Case in point: it’s just another day. If that’s true, thank god I have Facebook to remind me when my birthday is next year.
10. Instead of party hats, we wear tiaras
Maybe we wore tiaras when we were little, too, but the standard birthday headwear seemed to be a party hat with that elastic tie that cut off the circulation to your neck.
Many drunk girls on their birthdays seem to require tiaras as they invade bars with 20 of their closest friends. Hint: If you wear a tiara to a bar when it’s not your birthday, maybe people will still think it’s your birthday and give you free shots (worth a shot!)
So there you have it. What celebrating a 23rd birthday feels like. Don’t worry though, there are some great things about birthdays that will always reign true.
Getting to celebrate another year getting older is a present in itself. I’d hate to think of the number of young souls out there who didn’t even get to have that choice.
I have had some amazing birthdays that will stick with me forever, and some brilliant presents to match. I have some wonderful family and friends who still managed to brighten up the day I turned 23 with a candlelit bacon and egg mcmuffin, a video montage of recent moments I should be forgetting or a night out at the local pub with my two best gals.
Whether you wear a tiara or not, birthdays are special. They may be different than they were when we were blissful 8-year-olds, but at least now they involve alcohol.
It’s the little things that get us through.