In the first year of keeping this blog I took the opportunity to reflect on my birthday, and I thought I’d do it again this year. After all, birthdays have always been my most introspective day of the year.
A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of a lockdown, I turned 29 and had one of the most relaxing and carefree birthdays to date. As someone who thrives off planning ahead and being organised, a lockdown birthday gave me everything I needed – forced rest, phone calls with family, flower deliveries, picnics with friends, a walk outside and a takeaway chai latte. Taking the day off work was the cherry I put on top of the cake, and the glorious weather on the day was a pleasant surprise.
In another world (i.e. every other birthday), I would have booked a dinner 4 weeks in advance, agonised over who to invite, stressed about whether to make it a big thing or a small thing, emailed the menu around with instructions to order in advance, frantically shopped for something ‘new’ to wear, and spent the night making sure I was spending equal amounts of time with people. I have always enjoyed the end result of these efforts, but it was nice to worry about any of the planning this year.
As much as I’m looking forward to all these lockdowns in Australia being over, just for one day it gave me a valuable lesson in slowing down and smelling the roses. Perhaps the best present I could give myself was permission to enjoy the day, without worrying about what could have been.
Whether it was spurred by lockdown or not, I also found myself not at all anxious about who I did or didn’t receive birthday messages from, or how heartfelt I perceived those messages to be. I know who my friends are, and one important day for me colliding with a busy day for them isn’t going to change my perception of that.
If I’d had a lockdown birthday for my 18th or my 21st then I probably would have felt differently. The fear of missing out would have been real, because at that point I didn’t realise that life goes on after your adolescent years. In a way, I think a lockdown birthday perfectly suited where I am in my life right now and what I value. It was freeing to not worry or care so much, and if that feeling is exponential then I can’t wait to turn 30.