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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois State chapter.

Having a birthday during a global pandemic isn’t ideal, but it’s something almost everyone has encountered this past year. The Corona Virus escalated quickly last March, and we all got sent home from school a week before my birthday. It was easily the worst birthday I’ve ever had. I wasn’t prepared to go home at all, and all of my birthday plans at school had been crushed — we were all on hard lockdown! However, now it’s a year later and we’re distributing vaccines (yay!!) This doesn’t mean the pandemic is over though. Until we’re all vaccinated, we need to remember to keep wearing masks and being responsible. We’ve made it one year, we can be patient a little while longer. In the meantime, my birthday is coming up again and I’m determined to make my birthday and yours an insane amount of fun while also being able to keep the CDC guidelines in the back of our head.

Keep it Small

It’s not what everyone wants to hear, but this is important. Hangout with your friends and family who are the closest to you and make you feel the most appreciated. Also, make sure those people have been tested or wear masks around you. It’s always better to have a small gathering of those who impact you the most rather than a bunch of people who you barely know. No one wants to get sick on their birthday or spend the next two weeks in quarantine, this also goes for everyone who comes into contact with you. That would be the biggest birthday bust.


Make sure you’re caught up with all of your assignments BEFORE your birthday that way you can focus on yourself and really celebrate. Once you’ve gotten caught up or gotten ahead on homework, put your phone down. You don’t want to be checking your email every five seconds to see what your professor says, they can wait a day. I would also recommend sleeping in or doing a little self-care in the morning when you wake up. Doing a face mask or watching my favorite TV always gets me motivated to start a long and eventful day (Big Time Rush comes to Netflix on my birthday, so that’s what I’ll be doing).

Go Outside

Get out and get some sunshine to boost that serotonin! It’s almost spring and the weather has been GORGEOUS outside. A picnic on the quad literally sounds like heaven on Earth right now. There are also a lot of lake spots around the Bloomington-Normal area too. I went to one the other day that had sand and it was almost like I was on the beach. You can really do just about anything outside like eating, listening to music, hiking, biking, playing volleyball, or even just exploring. If you don’t have time to get outside, drive with the windows down or open the windows in your room. Fresh air is key.

Free Food!!

This one’s more like a hidden life hack. It could honestly be an article in and of itself. If you Google right now “where can I get free food on my birthday?” at least a hundred places will come up including Applebee’s, Auntie Anne’s, Baskin-Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cheesecake Factory, Chili’s and so much more. Usually they give you a free dessert if you sign up for their emails for coupons. I always go to a Mexican restaurant for my friends and I’s birthdays because they’ll give you a sombrero, sing to you AND give you free fried ice cream. What more could you want? *heart eyes*

Do What You Love

This is your day dedicated to YOU. The ball is in your court and you get to make all the rules. If you feel like traveling across the country on a road trip, go for it. But also if you feel like staying in bed all day binge watching iCarly, that’s okay too! Don’t let other people peer pressure you into having some huge rager or doing anything that you don’t want to do. This day only comes around once a year, so don’t let anyone (or a pandemic) ruin it. If you’re not happy, then no one will be happy.

Even though COVID-19 is still around, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Sure, we’re limited sometimes, but we shouldn’t put our life on halt because of it. It’s also important to stay optimistic because the pandemic is close to being over! Having a tough birthday last year made me realize all of this. As long as we keep our heads up and keep appreciating the little things in life that make us who we are, then we’re unstoppable and capable of so much more than we realize.

Bella Sibenaller

Illinois State '23

Hi, my name is Bella and I'm a junior here at Illinois State. I'm a psychology major, but I'm also going into nursing. At ISU, I am also apart of the National Society for Leadership and Success and currently serve as the social chair. My hometown is Charleston, Illinois. It's a super small town south of ISU. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with friends and Facetiming my eight year old sister. If you have any questions about Her Campus or any of the other organizations I'm involved in, please reach out! My Instagram is @bellajsib.
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