Solo Birthdays are Awesome

How do you feel about birthdays? It varies from person to person; some look forward to it each year while others don’t want to be reminded that they’ve gotten a year older. Regardless of how we may personally feel, it’s undeniable that it’s a time in our lives that our society at large usually views as a monumental occasion and thus, places a heavy emphasis on the necessity of celebration. Traditions vary across cultures and countries but generally some sort of celebratory song is sung, food is eaten, and well wishes are sent. In the US for example, we place great importance onto the concept of ‘milestone’ birthdays. One article featured on Punchbowl.com  describes milestone birthdays as, “those that mark a big birthday year such as 30th birthdays, 40th birthdays, 50th birthdays or any other big milestones. Since adults typically stop having birthday parties to commemorate each year older, milestone birthdays often turn into big, elaborate parties”. So essentially, birthday celebrations are generally festive, highly socialized events. But what about the people who don’t have anyone to celebrate with? Well that’s where I come in. In this article I’ll be sharing my experiences with celebrating my birthdays alone as well as offering some advice for mastering the art of solitude. If this sounds interesting to you, then please keep reading!

This idea of wanting to spend my birthday alone first began about two years ago. To paint the scene for you, I was now in my second year of college at UCR, far from my home in little hicktown Fresno, California and was basically friendless. At the time, it was odd for me to be in this situation—I’m not a shy or timid person by any means. Meeting new people and making friends comes easily to me. So how was it that I had no friends to enjoy my 19th birthday with? Long story short, I had fallen out of touch with the friends I had made in the previous year over petty, catty nonsense. As a result, it seemed like most of that large group of friends disseminated and everyone moved on with their lives. But that did little to comfort me as the days until my birthday inched closer and closer and I began to realize that not only would I be without family, but I’d also be without a single friend. Naturally, an extrovert like myself would begin to panic. Truthfully, it initially was a hard adjustment and in a way, I felt bad about myself. Somehow something shifted in my mind. In other words, I can’t really pinpoint what exactly changed my mindset or clicked in my head (although I’m sure it must’ve been a reassuring call with my mom), but suddenly I told myself that there was nothing wrong with spending your birthday alone or being by myself at all because with or without anyone, I was going to enjoy myself—and spoiler alert, I did!

Woman staring at a window sadly Photo by Tiago Banderia from Unsplash

My first birthday by myself wasn’t eventful in nature because it was as simple as putting on a cute outfit and eating all the free food I could get, but it’s a time I’ll never forget because it represented a new me: one who didn’t mind eating out or catching a movie at the UV alone. One who could now focus on her studies and begin raking in straight A’s and B’s. One who didn’t have to deal with drama and gossip. In hindsight, the takeaway of that single event was the best gift I could’ve ever given myself. And because I enjoyed myself so much then, I’ve been traveling alone ever since! For example, the following year I travelled to Los Angeles twice for two concerts I’d really wanted to attend—one being the BTS Love Yourself Tour concert in Pasadena and then later for my 20th birthday I travelled to Los Angeles again on a whim and had the time of my life! As soon as I checked into my hotel and tossed my things down, I was already out the door again to go find my own fun (which is how I ended up impulsively getting my septum pierced). 

Photo of young brunette woman wearing a backpack and walking down a street alone shot from behind Photo by Karel Rakovsky from Picjumbo

Throughout the brief but eventful weekend of time spent eating out here and there, shopping beyond my means, and even visiting the Broad where I met a K-drama actor that I liked (!!!),  I had just done all the things I wanted to do. See, that’s really what all of this is about—being able to do what you want to do without having to worry about others not wanting to participate or complaining or flaking on you. It’s about not rushing through the day and just enjoying the moment; unplug from your phone and social media and just take in your surroundings. It’s about meeting new people along the way, seeing new places, eating new food, and loving yourself. That’s really what distinguishes loneliness from solitude because in solitude, the soul isn’t craving any particular thing or person but rather, emphasizes the quality of being by oneself. Doing so, occasionally or frequently, really allows you to see the world differently and you may even come to enjoy it as much as I do. So whenever you’re thinking about going somewhere or starting up an activity and are afraid to because your friends aren’t willing, remember this article and just go for it. Life is too short to fret over what others may think of you when they see you in public without a large group of friends beside you. You aren’t responsible for anyone’s opinion of you; it’s your life to live and you ought to make it a damn good one!