Nothing marks the passing of time like a Birthday, right? It’s impossible to mark another milestone in your life without looking backwards and reflecting. This year what sprang to mind was actually Birthdays themselves and how I like to spend them.
I always thought that deciding to grow up and settle down would be an active decision – that one day I’d just wake up one morning and be all ‘That’s it now, thanks. No more partying for me. Time to start behaving myself and being an adult,’ Except you don’t decide, it just happens, without you really noticing.
Just three years ago I woke up on my 30th Birthday with a hangover from hell, full of woe about the rapid passing of my life, all anxious about the fact I hadn’t achieved much and stressing about whether or not chances were slowly slipping away. It wasn’t my finest hour. That was how I handled anxiety back then though. I hit the town, drank a lot, pretended I was having the BEST TIME EVER in order to fool myself everything was fine. True to form, life decided to flip one eighty and I had what was then the best year of my life so far – I got a new job, I moved into a house I loved, I got Bonnie and I got engaged. A lot has changed since then of course, but the biggest thing being that I no longer feel the need to mask my insecurity by throwing a huge party and downing shots like there’s no tomorrow. I’m not tee-total or anything – my poor attempt at Dry January proved that not to be the case – but I just don’t feel the need to put on a brave face and pretend life is perfect anymore. They’re funny like that, special occasions. Think of Christmas, Birthdays, NYE or anniversaries. We’ve somehow come to believe that these days, which are actually just like any other day, simply must be out of this world amazing, otherwise the whole thing was a bust and you may aswell not have gotten out of bed. We put way too much pressure on ourselves to make it ‘special’ that inevitably we normally end up spoiling it for ourselves.
This year, I decided I didn’t want a party, or a huge night out. I just wanted a relaxing day doing the things I love most. And here’s how it went down:
I spent the first part of the day having cuddles in bed with my pup, one of my favourite treats. We got up late morning and wandered downstairs for a lazy breakfast and I opened my cards. Next, Ollie came over and we took Bonnie for a long walk along the canal. Serendipitously, it was my favourite kind of day – freezing, but with clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine. We stopped for a coffee, then headed home, taking Bonnie on her first ever bus ride (she was not impressed. Sorry Bons). Later I headed out to meet a special someone for cocktails – there is something that feels more decadent about drinking cocktails late afternoon in the middle of the week rather than on a Saturday night out with the girls somehow, so it really felt like a treat. I failed miserably at getting an outfit shot to show you my Dune Sylver boots, which I’ve had for a couple of months now without managing to post. Then I headed off to meet my family for a curry in Birmingham’s famous Balti Triangle, where I opened my gifts, drank Prosecco and ate the biggest naan I’ve ever seen. Then we went home and watch Bonnie open her gifts (True Fact: My Birthday is also her Birthday. We were so excited about bringing home our puppy that we didn’t realise this until a week or so later when we had a look through her paperwork. So she was destined to be mine I think!) and go to town on a toy pig which she adored and protected with her life for about a day before killing mercilessly and disemboweling it on the living room floor.
Hardly the most exciting story ever, is it? But I think it goes down as one of my favourite Birthdays in a long time, and I didn’t need to dress up and dance and drink lots with a hundred people to make it so. This does NOT mean my days of wearing a dress and high heels for the hell of it are over, by any stretch you understand, nor does it mean I won’t cherish drunken nights out singing karaoke and dancing to 80’s cheese, but it does mean I’ll do those things because I feel like it, not because I feel some sort of pressure to pretend I’m living life to the full and don’t have a care in the world. The year I’ve had I fully expected to wake up on my Birthday feeling sad and insecure about my future, and there was certainly an element of that, but I also felt like it was ok to feel that way, and that I still had a lot to feel grateful about.
And if that is what getting older means, bring it on! I embrace it wholeheartedly!