Expectations vs. Reality: Birthdays In Your 20s

10 Reasons Postgrad Birthdays Suck
Expectation: You look extremely hot. This is your one chance to actually look decent, and you pulled it off. You’ll have to beat potential hookups off with a stick.
Reality: You realized when you were halfway to work that you left your going-out outfit at home. You attempt to convince yourself that your work clothes will be good enough, until you spill salad dressing on yourself at lunch. Oh well. You can buy your own drinks.

Expectation: You’ll have a crew ready to buy shots for your group.
Reality: Everyone is exhausted from a long day of work, and shots sound like a lot of trouble. You order yourselves a round of beers.

Expectation: You’ll be going home with that 10 who has been eyeing you all night. Score.
Reality: The only thing you can imagine going home to is your sleep mask. Flirting was a lot less work when you were younger. Even if you took someone home, you can’t imagine having the energy to do anything other than sleep.

Expectation: A night full of dancing with hot strangers.
Reality: Your back hurts from working all day. Not only does dancing not sound appealing, but you also give up the idea of a bar stool for a remote table with backed chairs.

Expectation: A night full of celebration and excitement for the big birthday. You haven’t had this much fun since your college days.
Reality: Birthdays have gone wildly downhill after 21. The only thing distinguishing this outing from a standard happy hour is the fact that you started drinking at 7 instead of 5.

Expectation: A night to talk about anything but work.
Reality: A night to talk primarily about work.

Expectation: Getting completely hammered off of bottomless margaritas.
Reality: Calling it quits halfway into your second drink because tomorrow’s a work day.

Expectation: Birthday cake, of course.
Reality: You’re on a diet.

Expectation: You finally get an opportunity to let your hair down.
Reality: There’s no way you’re letting your hair down. You haven’t washed it in days.

Expectation: Finally meeting someone attractive and staring into their eyes all night long.
Reality: You woke up an hour before your alarm went off, and you’ve had bags under your eyes ever since. You can’t even imagine your own mother wanting to look you in the eye.

Expectation: Getting carpal tunnel from giving out your number so many times.
Reality: You end up writing your number on your bar tab. Hey, a 20% tip gives you pretty good odds with the bartender, right?

Expectation: Finally getting the chance to hook up with the only other attractive, single person in the office.
Reality: The HR rep was invited.

Expectation: You won’t be going home alone for once.
Reality: Well, technically, you’re never going home alone. You have your fish.

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Steph W.

Steph W. is a new Master's degree graduate with an intern's salary and six-figure taste. She realizes her expectations far exceed reality, so she spends her days pinning away Loubs she pretends are in her physical closet instead of her virtual one. Her hobbies include attempting to trapping her boyfriend into marriage before he finds out how insane she is and pretending that Black Box wine tastes as good as the kind she could afford when she was gainfully employed. Send her tips for getting out of student debt at

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