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I think we can all kind of agree that after your 21st birthday, it’s all pretty much downhill from there on out. Your family members stop making a big deal about you, your theme parties go from “Dead Celebrity” and “Harry Potter Because We’re Never Growing Up” to “It’s a weeknight, let’s keep it mellow” and “We can’t get too loud because my roommate is already asleep.” All you really have to look forward to is a lower insurance when you rent a car and the somewhat valid excuse of begin hungover on a Wednesday.
I don’t mean to complain too much…okay yes I do. But the thing about birthdays is you feel like they’re always going to be exciting and then one day you wake up, and they really aren’t.
But it’s all right! There is a light at the end of the Birthday Blues Tunnel. And that light, friends, is paved with shots you have no business doing and cold french fries you will inevitably end up drunk eating.
But before you reach the nirvana of birthday acceptance, you must work your way through the 7 Stages of Birthday Grief.
Step One: Feeling Of Foreboding And Dread
“Oh, god. It’s coming. I’m going to be a year older and less desirable and my age is going to change on all of my dating apps and social media. And everyone’s going to ask what my plans are but I don’t really want to go through the effort of actually planning anything. Fuck, do I lose my health insurance ON my birthday or at the 1st of the year after?”
Author’s note: it’s on your birthday. No more ER visits for this champ.
There is an overwhelming sense of nausea you are overcome with when you think about being another year older. It usually hits around two weeks or so before the big day and will have you looking at your life and comparing it to where you thought you would be by now, and it almost never lines up to where you think you should be. Way to let eight-year-old you down. Way. To. Go.
Step Two: Disassociation And Ignoring
“Maybe if I don’t make a big deal about it no one else will. I can subtlety delete my birthday off of Facebook so I don’t wake up to 27 notifications before I’ve sucked down my coffee. No one remembers anything without social media anymore. That’s it! I’ll just pretend it isn’t going to happen!. Genius plan, ME.”
You can attempt to ignore the big change in your age, but the fact of the matter is, it’s still going to come. Even if you narrowly avoided the slew of Facebook HBDs, or have not made so much of a whisper towards your friends as a reminder, you cannot hide from getting older.
Step Three: Forget About It
Also known as the Donnie Brasco stage.
Friend: “Are you excited?”
You: “For what?”
Friend: “Oh stop playing. What do you have planned for next week?”
You: “Uhhh….not much. Why?”
Friend: “DUDE. Your birthday!!!!”
You: *internal scream*
All of the denying and the panicking eventually paid off (sort of), and you forgot all about the impending b-day. That or your real life took over and gave you a distraction of sorts. But then a card came in the mail or an email from Sephora about your free gift came, or a friend reminded you that you’re supposed to “celebrate” and it all came crashing back down.
Step Four: Depression
There are no words. There’s probably not even an inner monologue here. There’s just you, feeling sorry for yourself about getting older and facing your own mortality. You’ll probably feel like a bum while eating left over pizza in bed and binge watching some show on Netflix. You’ll turn off the volume on your phone because no one should have to deal with the human raincloud you are. Everything is terrible and you are inconsolable. Somebody cue the John Mayer because you have the Birthday Scaries.
Step Five: Fake It Till You Make It
“Okay. Walk it off, slugger. Are you feeling really bored in your career lately and so single it hurts? Yeah, a little. But no one got anywhere by feeling like a shit stain. Well except for Hemingway, but that really didn’t end well…too soon?”
The fact of the matter is that no matter what, your birthday is going to happen. You are going to continue to get older. Sure, you can sneakily change the year on your Bumble profile to keep it at the same age for a while and you can simply not acknowledge the request for your favorite flavor of cake from your work wife or husband, but that’s just kind of lame tbqh. Slap a smile on your face even if it’s fake, and force yourself to have a good time.
Step Six: Laughing At Oneself
“Did Ari honestly send me a link to the 2 Chainz “Birthday Song” at 8 a.m.? Oh my god. *starts playing it and cracking up* I mean all I want for my birthday is a bellini, but I wouldn’t kick a big booty hoe out of bed given the opportunity.”
At some point you will realize that freaking out about a birthday is just plain silly. You’ve been panicking and stressing and for what? To give yourself a birthday stress zit and birthday stress migraines? That’s just dumb. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, buy yourself a balloon, and the get the hell over it. And along the way, laugh at how dramatic you were because woah, that was unnecessary for someone at your age.
Step Seven: Acceptance
“So it may not be an epic surprise party like when I lived with 9 other girls, but this dinner is actually pretty nice. It’s also nice that we don’t have to only drink the house wine because it’s all we can afford and nobody got stressed out about getting carded. We’ll probably go out this weekend and they’ll buy me drinks and bouncers will say a half-assed happy birthday, but this dinner with people I care about and talk to more than once a year on Facebook is honestly great. Sure, those ragers with a hundred people and kegs were fun, but grown up birthdays are fun too. And hey, the cake is still free.”
Always say yes to free cake.
And from me to you, happy birthday!.