I can haz party?
April 14, 2012 2:15 PM   Subscribe

Should I do something for my birthday?

I am turning 17. My birthday is nearing, and it falls on a Monday [Apr. 16]. I never really planned anything for my last few birthdays, just small get-together parties with pizza. Nothing too special.

I'm not too sociable, that is I hate being in a social setting because I eventually start to pick at the flaws of everything around me. I know it's common to not celebrate your birthday, but I find it unsettling that I have no drive whatsoever to even do anything other than to sleep and stay at home doing nothing.

I have friends, but I don't feel like inviting them anymore. The motivation for celebration is gone.

Now, I'm not some freak who's afraid or hateful of society; I have a part-time job and I juggle school with that and I also go out with friends from every week. What bothers me is that all of my other friends are doing something while I am not, even if they do something that we do all the time or something that is incredibly small.

So what's your guys' take on this? Do nothing or hold the biggest party on the block? All ideas welcome, just need some perspective here.
posted by Angel of Khaos to Society & Culture (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're not too sociable and hate being in social settings, then it seems crazy to hold the biggest party on the block. There's no obligation on anyone to have a birthday party, and there's no reason that 17 should be thought of as any more significant than any other birthday.

If a small get together with a few friends and a couple of pizzas satisfies you, then do that -- happy birthday!
posted by modernnomad at 2:20 PM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I just turned 30. I felt a lot of pressure to have a big blowout party--it is a big round number, after all. Honestly, though, I thought about it, and I just don't have the drive to put together a huge blowout party. Instead, I spent the night before at a concert with my best fellow, got some much needed quiet alone time the day of, and dressed up fabulously and took myself out for dinner that actual night. It was really really lovely, very calming.

Give yourself permission to buck societies expectations and spend the day exactly how you want to. It is your birthday, after all.
posted by mollymayhem at 2:22 PM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

You should do something you enjoy on your birthday. If that means getting together with a friend or two, that's cool. If it means getting ice cream and a nap by yourself, that's cool too.

Don't do something that will put you in a Bad mood!

I didn't do anything for my birthday this year either and it's one of the parts of being a grown-up introvert that I enjoy very much --- I finally feel comfortable admitting that "nothing" is what I WANT to do sometimes, and I'm totally allowed to do that.
posted by heatherann at 2:26 PM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

So how would most introverts spend their birthdays other than having small parties or doing nothing? I'm just curious here.
posted by Angel of Khaos at 2:30 PM on April 14, 2012

Eh, I don't much care about my birthday, either. I try to make sure I go out to dinner with some friends on or about the day, and for my 30th I declared to all and sundry that I was going to be at a particular place having a drink and they were welcome to come hang out (which worked well, no planning needed and a solid bunch of my friends showed up.) Otherwise, I have been known to forget about it altogether.

Now, I will say if "I have no drive whatsoever to even do anything other than to sleep and stay at home doing nothing" describes your entire life right now, that's a little more distressing (and one of the main symptoms of depression.) But that's another question.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:31 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, last year, I worked 15 hours, crashed a motorcycle, fixed it enough to ride home and collapsed into bed. Year before that, I detailed vintage Italian and British motorcycles, went dirtbiking for the first time, and had dinner and a few beers with a good pal. Year before that, I went to Angel Island and had a picnic with one good friend.

What's something that you really really like doing? Do that.
posted by mollymayhem at 2:34 PM on April 14, 2012

Doing nothing sounds fine.
I have a party when I feel like one, not when the calendar hits a certain date.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 2:51 PM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you generally don't like parties, don't have a party. You're not socially obligated to do this.

The nice part about birthdays is that unlike hobbits and their obligatory distribution of mathoms to everybody, human birthdays are all about them. And if what you really want is a night off, and not say, going bowling or a party in the backyard with balloons or drinking under age with the kendo club, or whatever, take a night off.

I'm not really a perfect introvert, but generally I make a big fuss out of my own birthday- cupcake and tiara style, but asides from maybe giving the neighbours some cupcakes so I don't get ill, I like to be by myself with a book. Personally my favourite of a lot of holidays (thanksgiving especially) is doing all the trappings all by myself and not sharing. I've also been known to make a tiny Thanksgiving - small chicken instead of a Turkey, mini-pumpkin to make a tiny pie, etc...

I don't hate people, but for me holidays are a lot more about the ritual and a lot less about the humans, generally those are the stressful aspect. 17 is a hard age to be introverted what with other's ability to impose on your time, so take your peace where you can grab it. "It's my birthday!" is one of our culture's fantastic catch all excuses for doing things your way.
posted by Phalene at 2:57 PM on April 14, 2012

You can just pick a friend (or go alone), and do something you feel like doing that you don't usually get to do. A hike, skydiving, afternoon in the library, movie in the afternoon. Or just use it as an excuse to be able to sleep in all day, guilt free.

Ignoring it sounds totally fine as well.
posted by Vaike at 2:59 PM on April 14, 2012

I haven't really had a birthday party since I started high school (I was very introverted in high school, though I am much less so now). I am approaching 34. I have survived. No one has complained.

Some ways I have spent birthdays: bar hopping with strangers at a professional conference, having a beer with my roommate, on vacation by myself, fancy dinner with my sister, oh, and there was the year where my 21st birthday coincided with my graduation from university, that was very close to being a party, and indeed there was cake.

I've ignored my birthday some years, but I wish I hadn't; part of the reason I ignored it was because I was afraid no one else cared and if I had a party no one would come. This was probably not the case.

Do what you want; if your friends really want an excuse to party, maybe you could let them plan a party for you but let them know you might duck out early.
posted by mskyle at 3:03 PM on April 14, 2012

You want to know what I did on my birthday this year? I baked myself some cookies (I like baking and I like cookies) and made myself some earrings (I like making things and I like earrings) and did a little reading and listened to some music and watched some TV. I didn't see anyone else all day (my boyfriend came over later, though) and it was awesome.

Do whatever YOU want to do. If you feel like inviting a few people over, do it. If not, don't. You can't worry about what other people think you should be doing.
posted by phunniemee at 3:23 PM on April 14, 2012

Happy upcoming birthday! It's your day, so do what you want, but do something nice for yourself. And, take a few pictures.
posted by caclwmr4 at 3:25 PM on April 14, 2012

I stopped having birthday parties in high school because I was afraid no one would come (I read a book in which this happened to a teenage girl and it stuck with me). In retrospect, I wish I had had the courage to invite a couple people over for pizza or at least go watch a movie or something.

But that doesn't seem to be your thing, so I grant you permission to not have a birthday party if you don't want a birthday party!

Things that I think would be neat for a birthday-
1. Run a 5k (just run if you are very reserved, if you are less reserved it would be fun to maybe wear a Burger King crown or a tiara or something because race volunteers love being able to say something specific to you). If you are in a biggish city, there will probably be a few tomorrow (Sunday) morning, if you don't mind doing it a day early. Actually, most of the things on my list are better done on a weekend.
2. Go for a hike that's a little bit challenging and has a nice view at the end or in the middle.
3. Pamper your mom like crazy with a nice meal and maybe some flowers and stuff because 17 years ago today she want through crazy difficulty to give birth to you and that was a nice thing for her to do. If you aren't in touch with/close to your bio-mom, you could do this for any mom-like figures in your life because it's nice to have a parent to look out for you.
4. Go on a long bike ride.
5. Go out to breakfast somewhere nice.
6. Make a crazy fancy breakfast for yourself at home.
7. Create some kind of scavenger hunt for yourself- find 17 different flowers, or 17 different animals, or one thing that starts with each letter in your name, whatever.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:34 PM on April 14, 2012

I was really glad when I got old enough that people stopped giving me crap about not wanting to do anything for my birthday. For the last few years of high school I tended to combine my party with another friend's who had hers around the same time as mine. (By this I mean, she had a party at her house with her friends. I invited maybe one or two additional people. We then called the party "troublesome and troublefriend's birthday" when discussing it.) Do you have any friends with birthdays soon whose parties you can tack yours onto?

Now that I'm grown my husband and I usually go to fancy dinner for my birthday, and he gets me a present. He knows I'd be upset if he tried to have a party for me.
posted by troublesome at 3:42 PM on April 14, 2012

Happy birthday! Mine and yours are only a day apart.

I also don't really like to celebrate my birthday publicly...so I don't. Looking back, the only birthdays I regret are the ones where I got talked into having a party. For my 17th, I had my first boy-girl teenage party and it was a disaster from beginning to end and wound up with me and my parents in a shouting match in front of everyone. My favorite moments at the party were down at the edge of our property with my best friend, watching the fire we'd started that everyone quickly lost interest in. For my 23rd or 24th, I went bar-hopping, drank too much, and hated every minute of it. By contrast, for my 26th, I volunteered at a community garden day and didn't tell a single person that it was my birthday. I got sunburned and smelled like manure and had a lovely time.

For several years, I got myself for a nice massage (Spa Week is generally around this time in many cities). This year I'm buying myself a hammock for the backyard. I like to go out for sushi around this time, too, because I don't do that often. And I sign up for a lot of the restaurant deals that give me a free something around my birthday (I'm super looking forward to a free Starbucks chai later this week!). There's a list somewhere of all the free stuff you can get for your birthday, and that helps to make it feel special even though it's not celebratory.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 3:46 PM on April 14, 2012

Happy birthday! Do something for yourself...if that means a bunch of friends together, do that. If it means having a night out with one or two good friends, do that. If it means hanging out somewhere entirely alone and reading a good book...have at it!

You don't get many days where everyone says it's okay to do whatever you want, so take advantage of it.
posted by xingcat at 4:05 PM on April 14, 2012

I'm an extrovert generally, but I don't really like being told when I have to be in a particular mood. So I often give birthdays a miss.

When I was a teenager I used to just invite a close friend or two to join my family for dinner on my birthday. The "party" consisted of "there will be a cake after dinner". I think my friends enjoyed this--it kind of indicates a bit more closeness than a blow out party.

Afterwards we hung out and talked, or watched a movie.

Three friends of mine have been close all their lives, and birthdays about 4 months apart. Each year, they all go for dinner near each of their birthdays and have a nice quiet chat about their lives and dreams.


I think your "two close friends and a pizza" is a great party. So is "laze about all day in bed with a library book".
posted by chapps at 4:10 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like to do something for myself, by myself - like a massage or facial (but could be gym or batting cages, or anything, really) and then meet a close friend or two for dinner or drinks. But just do what you enjoy.

Happy Birthday!
posted by cestmoi15 at 4:12 PM on April 14, 2012

Today is my birthday so I've been reading the responses with great interest. I never throw myself a party, I don't even really like attending parties in general.

This year I slept in, listened to my favorite music while reading & curled up with my cat. I did stir to make a fantastic quiche (homemade butter crust!) and then my fiance arrived and we rolled keftedes together. (They are his favorite food, I'm not really sure how they got involved with my birthday.)

I will sort of celebrate next weekend with a baseball game, then a taping of Jeopardy (we would have done those things anyway, but it is nice to be able to use that as the celebration explanation when people ask about my birthday plans - I've found it is hard for some to accept that I don't really feel the need to do something on my birthday.)

Last year, it was gourmet grilled cheese and watching a new movie release I'd been wanting to see. Another year, a really extroverted friend insisted on organizing a party for me - I comprised on a group outing to a baseball game, so I wasn't the main focus.

This has been a really long way of saying, do whatever makes you happy on your birthday, even if other people think it "isn't enough".
posted by cessair at 4:23 PM on April 14, 2012

Aim for something in between "nothing" and "the biggest party on the block."

No matter what else is going on my life at the time, I like to set aside everything else and use my birthday to actually appreciate the fact that I'm alive. I think about a friend who had cancer, who said that she dearly hoped she would live to see her next birthday. She didn't. As long as I'm still here, I feel like I owe it to her to celebrate that. It would be an insult to her memory, and to the lives of everyone who died too soon, to mope around feeling sad and small just because my life isn't perfect.

Celebrate by doing something that will please YOU, even if it's something quiet and small. Take a long stroll someplace interesting. Sit on a bench and watch people. Go to a museum. Read some poetry, or write some. Daydream about something pleasant, say, what would be your ideal summer vacation? or the best place in the world to live?

Eat something that you would not normally allow into your diet, and really enjoy it.

And doing something nice for your parents is a great idea. Take them out for dinner, or cook something for them at home. Your appreciation will mean more to them than you can imagine.

Enjoy your day!
posted by Corvid at 4:25 PM on April 14, 2012

I don't think I've done the party thing since I was a kid. For my 30th I went overseas. I suggest doing something you really love on your birthday rather than something that you feel obligated to do.
posted by mleigh at 4:27 PM on April 14, 2012

The only big one I've ever had was my thirtieth - I invited people from two jobs, family and the softball team for a meet up at a bar. The most noteworthy thing was that ten people met each other that night, and five couples are still together 23 years later. Boggles my mind, but that's a pretty good present.

My favorite thing to do for the unannounced birthday is to go see a first run movie in a really nice theater at the earliest show. I've often been alone in the theater, and it's like it's playing only for me.

Have a Happy Birthday.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:30 PM on April 14, 2012

Instead of celebrating my bday, I give my mom a card and we spend the day together. I figure it's not just a special day for me, but also her. She brought me into this world after hours of labor and 9 months of uncomfortableness, so it's really "our" day.

I never have a party. I just invite my mom out to celebrate another year older and a thank you for having me.
posted by Sweetmag at 4:30 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I never really understood all the hubbub about birthdays. Everyone has one every year, so what really makes it special?

This year for my birthday mother nature gave me monthly gift and my roommate flipped out at me for no reason (he didn't know it was my birthday). If I was a drama queen, I could have been all "it's my birthday!", but I don't think a birthday makes me entitled in any way.
posted by eq21 at 4:50 PM on April 14, 2012

I seldom if ever do something the day of and many years I don't do anything at all. Usually sometime within the following month I'll be out doing something anyway and will spontaneously declare it my birthday thing. Depending on how mercenary you are feeling this can be used to make your friends pick up dinner. :-)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:33 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've found when I try to plan something with lots of people and things, it's anticlimactic: people flake, get lost, are really late, etc. My last few birthdays, I've had a great time by: having lunch or dinner with just a friend or two; going on a random road trip up the coast (you could do any other drive you enjoy); getting lost in an excellent museum, etc. I have another friend who very politely refuses to do anything on his birthday. So no, you're not alone! It's your day: spend it however YOU want!
posted by smirkette at 5:42 PM on April 14, 2012

So how would most introverts spend their birthdays other than having small parties or doing nothing?

I am an introvert! Additionally, I find coordinating large events very stressful. After several years of having sort of miserable nights in which I planned something big with a bunch of disparate friend groups who didn't actually get along with each other, and dealing with the hassle of getting those large groups into restaurants, bars, etc., and then watching them fight over where we had to go next, etc., I finally realized that trying to please other people on my birthday was making me unhappy, so I said "fuck it, no more." For my 26th, my boyfriend and I went out for a nice dinner, and then afterwards my best friend met up with us and the three of us went to a bluegrass concert together. For my 27th, I had a picnic in the park with a small group of friends (like maybe 3-5 people?) and then my boyfriend and I wandered around a cool neighborhood that I'd never checked out before. Doing something you like with your one or two best friends, or with your family, or even by yourself, is all totally fine - and don't feel like you have to justify it to anyone! I think if you actually do nothing you will feel bummed out - I like the idea of a hike or a museum or something.
posted by naoko at 5:44 PM on April 14, 2012

Eh, I'm not doing anything for my birthday this year either. Weekday birthdays are hard to do anything with (most of the time people don't want to get together anyway), the weekend before my birthday is the biggest event of the year here, by the weekend after it seems anticlimactic. Adding to that, I have a super busy day where I don't even have lunch free that day and two classes to go to that night, until late at night. I felt kind of bummed about that until I remembered that uh, this is pretty much how my weekday birthdays go. I always have some class booked that day!

Do whatever the hell you want to enjoy yourself on your free time and don't worry about the shoulds.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:40 PM on April 14, 2012

So how would most introverts spend their birthdays other than having small parties or doing nothing?

I very literally hide under blankies or sometimes the actual bed on my birthday because it falls on a huge noisy awful holiday and I hate it forever. Usually I will watch a movie that I really love and maybe eat a cupcake. I never let anyone come over or lure me out anywhere and by gum I like it like that.
posted by elizardbits at 6:46 PM on April 14, 2012

Not directly birthday related but from your comment about "I find it unsettling that I have no drive whatsoever to even do anything other than to sleep and stay at home doing nothing":

If it's been a long time for you (that might be a week or a month) since you've felt motivation to do something or motivation to be with other people in particular, it might be worth pushing yourself to do something you usually like. Sometimes people fall into a slump and it can help a lot to go out and do the things you enjoy.

Not necessarily the same party you throw every year, but just call up a friend whose company you enjoy and eat together or talk together or walk around downtown. And again not necessarily on the day of your birthday - but if you're finding that every day, all you want to do is lay on the bed and stare at the ceiling, that probably is something you'll be happier to fight.
posted by Lady Li at 11:28 PM on April 14, 2012

When I turned 17, I went out for a meal and then some drinks with my then-boyfriend. I didn't enjoy it - I remember crying into a gin and tonic because I was getting OLD. Perhaps it was the fuss that was made?

Nobody says you have to go out or whatever on your birthday. Hell, the best New Year's Eves I've had have been doing something quietly with close friends, and that's another night upon which you're meant to go out, get drunk and/or have The Best Night Ever. Stay in, invite your favourite people, have your favourite food and watch a stupid film.
posted by mippy at 2:11 PM on April 15, 2012

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