My next birthday is swiftly approaching, and I’m not sure whether I should be excited or a little bit nauseated. I’m getting so old (24), and at this point, I’ve had my fair share of birthdays.
I’ll admit, I sort of miss the early years of celebrating. Birthdays seemed so much easier when we were turning 8 instead of three times eight.
When we were little, birthdays were the most important thing ever. "It's my birthday" could trump everything, and I know I personally used that saying the entire day to get everything I wanted (because I was a little brat, it's fine).
Now that we're older, birthdays are different. They involve less cake (usually), more alcohol (always) and a few other changes that make your special day a lot more different than it used to be:
1. Presents now make you uncomfortable.
When we were little, we could never have enough presents. If there was not a large stack of brightly-wrapped, obscurely-shaped items sitting on the table in front of us at our birthday party, something was wrong. Presents did not make us uncomfortable; they made us whole.
Adulthood and presents are a different story. Whenever someone asks what you want for your birthday, you shrug off the question uncomfortably.
When you were little, you could rattle off the ever-growing list of what you wanted, on-command. Now, you just try to act humble while openly annoying everyone who has no idea what to get you.
The only person you still feel comfortable giving gift-giving instructions to is your mother. After all, she has to love you.
2. If you want a party, your mom can't plan it for you anymore.
As kids, we have limited responsibilities. Go to school, be relatively nice to people who aren’t related to you, don’t play with fire, etc. The demands placed upon us were not high. Our lives are scheduled for us – including our own birthdays.
All we had to do was say, “Hey, Mom, I want a Spice Girl themed birthday party,” and before we knew it, we were dressed as Posh Spice, surrounded by a bunch of glitzed and glammed 7 and 8-year-olds hopped up on too much ice cream.
I will never be able to top that Spice Girl themed birthday party. Thanks, Mom.
Now, if we want a party or something that even remotely resembles plans, we have to do it all by ourselves. Sure, sometimes our friends will help (depending on how much they love us), but for the most part, we’re on our own.
Somehow it doesn’t seem to be as much fun when you have to do all of the planning and deciding. It’s my party, I should be able to be indecisive if I want to. That’s how the song goes, right?
3. Your birthday isn't guaranteed to be the best day ever.
And when we were kids, it totally was. No matter what happened that day, our birthday was always legendary because it was ours. We were born that day, we were another year older and, holy crap, we were so special.
Even if you had to go to school, your mom would at least bake treats for the whole class and everyone would be super nice to you all day long.
They might even sing to you over the loudspeaker. My birthday always fell over school vacation, and I was kind of jealous because kids who had school birthdays were treated like kings for a day.
When you're in your 20s, your birthday might not be all that great. It might just be another day of the week. We have work and responsibilities; it’s hard to pause everything to celebrate like we used to be able to. Unless your birthday falls on a weekend, you’re kind of f*cked.
4. You can't use "because it's my birthday" as frequently.
I used to make my siblings do stupid things for me just because it was my birthday. That phrase was basically the law. You want that last cookie? Well, sorry kid, it’s my birthday. I’m 8-years-old, and today I rule the f*cking world.
Then again, I'm the oldest, so I always had an excuse to rule the world. Come to think of it, I must have been extra awful on my birthday. Sorry about that, siblings.
Now, it doesn’t really matter that it’s your birthday. Work still starts at 9 am, you still won’t get a seat on the subway and it’s still your turn to change the cat litter.
Birthdays are special, but they are no longer get-out-of-everything-free cards. Your glory days are over.
5. It now often involves alcohol.
On a happy note, now your birthday is a fantastic excuse to get drunk. Once you turn 21, all bets are off. Twenty-four is just your fourth 21st birthday.
Everyone supports you on this because it’s also an excuse for them to get crazy drunk, too. Pass the whiskey sours, please.
6. Not all of your friends will be able to celebrate with you.
For kids, birthdays are like national holidays. You get a birthday party invitation in the mail, and there’s no question: you’re going.
If you can’t, it is literally the end of the world. Of course, if you have a summer birthday, attendance isn’t as easy to come by. Poor souls.
When you’re older, not everyone will always be around to celebrate your birthday, even if you don’t have a summer birthday.
People are busy, your friends live all over the country and it just isn’t possible to get everyone in one place at the same time. On the bright side, this often means that we just have to have multiple celebrations. Let birthday week commence!
7. There might not be cake.
Cake is a birthday staple. It still makes appearances on birthdays, but it’s okay if it doesn’t.
We’ll settle for cupcakes, brownies, ice cream, cocktails… all of the above. If it’s sweet and you’re not supposed to eat it, it’s for birthdays.
8. No one forces you to write thank you notes.
Ah, and that used to be the worst part of birthdays. Of course we were always grateful for all of those presents, we just didn’t feel like writing out 26 cards to prove it.
Now, verbal thank yous, Facebook post responses, text messages and drinks are all totally acceptable forms of thanks. Thank God.
9. Instead of party hats, we wear tiaras.
Maybe we wore tiaras when we were little, too, but the standard birthday headwear seemed to be a party hat.
Many drunk girls on their birthdays seem to require tiaras as they invade bars with 20 of their closest friends. Hint: If you wear a tiara to a bar when it’s not your birthday, people will still think it’s your birthday and might give you free shots (I have tried this because I'm awful).
Whether you wear a tiara or not, birthdays are special. They may be different than they were when we were blissful 8-year-olds, but at least now they involve alcohol.
It’s the little things that get us through.