Updated: May 22, 2021
For 10 quarantine birthday ideas, skip to the end!
I don't self-disclose often, but felt this post may be helpful for others who are celebrating a birthday during COVID19.
Today, May 9 of 2020, I turn 30 years old. Having my 30th birthday during quarantine has given me permission to turn off my expectations. Most of my adult birthday memories involve being in various unhealthy romantic relationships and creating unrealistic expectations of my partners that I knew would never be met. I’d also tell myself that unless my partner, friends and family met my expectations of X, Y and Z…my birthday wouldn’t be enjoyable.
As you may imagine, I set myself up to be constantly let down. I self-sabotaged (almost) every year, and convinced myself that nobody cared enough. I convinced myself that I couldn't count on others. I was expecting people to read my mind. Isn't that wild? I was self-centered. I used to tell people "I’m not a birthday person” as a protective measure so that the bar wouldn’t be set too high. I told myself that by making that statement, there would be little room for disappointment. I would lie because I never believed I was going to be shown the attention I craved. I used to think attention on my birthday was all that mattered. I used to believe that attention equaled love. I believed that if I didn’t receive the right amount of attention, I wasn’t loved.
Now at age 30, I see things more clearly. Others may add to my happiness, but my happiness and attitude are in my own hands. This year, with the limitations on social contact and options for “celebration" taken away, I feel extremely at peace. I have zero expectations and have given myself full permission to simply enjoy my day. I have planned absolutely nothing and am taking each minute as I’d like to. If friends or family don’t reach out, it doesn’t bother me. If I don't get a certain amount of social media attention, it doesn't bother me. My birthday isn’t about others validating that they are happy I’ve been around for another year. My birthday isn't about the level of attention I receive or that others notice I'm receiving. My birthday isn't the only day of the year people show me they care. My birthday is about celebrating another year of experiences, of heartbreaks, of goals reached, of goals set, of effort, of mistakes, of tears, of laughter, of memories, of disappointments, and of learning. My birthday is about looking myself in the eye and saying “I see you, and I accept you.” My birthday is about feeling grateful for my health, for my body, for my mind, for my opportunities, for my privilege. My birthday is about dreaming for the future and getting excited about all of the things I have yet to learn and people I have yet to meet. My birthday is 100% about my relationship with myself, and the joy it brings to know I’ve made it one more year on this earth and am still thriving.
This year I choose to keep on growing and remain committed to my relationship with myself. I choose to remove expectations I put on others to prove my worth. I choose to take the weight off of the birthday expectations I’ve piled on over the years. I choose to stop stating “I’m not a birthday person” as a defense mechanism. I choose to be honest with myself and use rational thinking when it comes to the expectations I put on others all year long. I choose to communicate more clearly about what I need with both myself and others. I choose to commit to continue working on my relationship with myself. I choose to remove the stigma that I've placed on birthdays as a pressure to spoil the birthday person.
A birthday is like a New Year's celebration for each individual. It's the true landmark of another year lived, another year of growth and change, and another year of memories. Don't get me wrong, birthdays are wonderful to celebrate with those you love and who love you, but they can be equally as beautiful spent with yourself.
I'm choosing to spend today catering to myself. If you or a loved one have had or are anticipating a birthday during this quarantine, I wish for you the ability to grasp this opportunity and use it to remove expectations, labels, and defense mechanisms from your special day. I wish for you the empowerment to ask for what you need. I wish for you the ability to truly and genuinely celebrate yourself. See below for some ideas on how to do so.
10 ideas for your quarantine birthday:
1. Write a list of all of the things you are proud of accomplishing so far in your life.
2. Write a thank you letter to yourself.
3. Take some time for self-care and treat yourself the way you would treat a loved one.
4. Bake yourself a cake or support a local business and order a cake or cupcake for yourself.
5. Move your body in a mindful way to show it appreciation for getting you this far. For example, if you take a walk or hike, pay attention to how your feet feel as they step onto the earth, how your knees bend, how your core holds you up, how your neck turns your head to take in the view.
6. Come up with some ideas for ways to celebrate with others once the quarantine ends.
7. Order yourself some flowers or your favorite food to be delivered.
8. Watch a movie you've been wanting to see, or buy yourself something online.
9. Turn on music that gets you moving and dance around your home.
10. Have phone calls or video chats with those you love.