If you would have told me a couple of months ago that I would be spending my birthday alone, in self-imposed isolation due to a pandemic, I would have laughed. And then maybe have asked you about what happens next. No, seriously, do you know??
Since I’ve been taking this Corona virus situation – and the health of mine and my loved ones – very seriously, I felt wrong about giving attention to any thoughts of breaking isolation merely for my birthday. Especially since I urged my loved ones to take everything more seriously. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite.
I live alone and most of my immediate family lives in different states. Prior to COVID-19, I planned to travel to New York and spend my birthday weekend with friends and then spend my actual birthday with my boyfriend. But that turned out to be a bust. I wanted to see my boyfriend so badly because it’s been nearly two months since we were together in person, and he had offered to come, but I felt nervous and guilty about it given the severity of the virus and how strict I’d been thus far. And I’m sure I’m not the only one with a quarantine birthday who has felt this way, whether you wanted to be with friends, family, or your boo.
Obviously, there are a lot of people suffering right now and a lot of bigger issues than not being able to spend your birthday the way you originally intended. A lot of people have been deeply affected by this matter and my heart goes out to you all. I hope that we can all find solace during this stressful time. But I also believe that it is okay for us to mourn what could have been – even in the wake of a larger moment.
If you know me, you know that spring is my favorite season and – just like my plants – I truly come alive during this time of year. I had so many hopes for May. I planned to have my garden in full effect with my crops thriving and growing by this point. I had plans to travel to Cuba so I could practice my Spanish with the locals and immerse myself in the culture, learning about the beauty, struggle, and power of the island and its people. I had tickets to attend concerts and festivals, to get lost in the music, sing till my voice gets hoarse, dance in the sunlight with my best friends, and lay in the grass.
I wanted to be “living my best life.” I wanted to bring in this next quarter century, which is in alignment with a new decade, in a popping way. So I’m low key mourning what this month could have been for me and I don’t want to feel bad about that. I’m giving myself permission to feel. I am extending myself the grace and understanding that I would to another.
But after allowing myself to feel, I am allowing the moment to pass. I am reminding myself to release. When we are sad about things not happening the way we intended, we have to remember to let go of that need for control and to not wallow in feelings of regret.
Despite the occasional thought about what could have been, I am still very much grateful for what is. I know and understand that I am blessed with many things in my life. I am thankful to still be employed, to have a roof over my head and a safe place to sleep. Especially during a time when millions of people are filing for unemployment, struggling to pay rent, and where victims of intimate partner violence – stuck at home with their abusers – are experiencing heightened episodes of abuse. When you have an awareness for others and practice that level of gratitude, feelings of regret are fleeting.
Spending a birthday alone is interesting. And it also makes a lot of sense. Like people often say, “we come into this world alone.” It’s so important to be able to sit with yourself. To not only be okay with your own company but to be in love with it. Enamored with yourself. This can be easier said than done sometimes. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t shed a tear or two today because I had to facetime with loved ones instead of being with them. I am human and require physicality, so that is to be expected. But I also love me and love the time I get to spend with me and that time will and always should be sacred.
So today I spent some precious time loving on myself the way I deserve to be loved on and doing things that bring me joy and fulfillment. If, like me, you will be spending your birthday in physical solitude because of the quarantine, here is a list of things that you can do to make the day with yourself meaningful and so much sweeter:
- Consider waking up early so you can celebrate for the entirety of the day
- Rest, relax, and release any stress you’ve been feeling
- Clear your calendar of any unnecessary tasks
- Speak positive affirmations out loud as you look at yourself in the mirror
- Take a relaxing bath
- Make yourself a tasty breakfast and drink plenty of water to hydrate your body
- Go for a walk, bike ride, run, etc. and spend some time in nature, if you can (making sure to still maintain physical distancing rules, of course)
- Stretch your body/practice yoga, noticing which parts of you are tense and allowing yourself to seek some ease
- Dance to your favorite music and sing loudly with no inhibitions
- Cook your favorite meal for your birthday dinner
- Bake a cake and eat as many slices as you want (no guilt here!)
- Blowout your candles by yourself or with your loved ones through video chat
- Make as may wishes as you want!
- Consider a “Zoom Party” to bring together all of your favorite people, if that’s your thing. But don’t feel any pressure to if it’s not (or if you’re not in the mood)
- Watch your favorite TV show or movie
- Read your favorite book or the one you’ve been meaning to read!
- Use the Netflix Party app to watch something fun with loved ones
- Videochat with family, friends, and/or your partner / anyone that brings you joy
- Journal; write down how you feel about your day, your life, or whatever it is that you want. Be completely honest with yourself, allowing you to look back at this entry one day and to know exactly how you felt in this moment
- Or, do this very same thing but in video format or through a voice memo
- Write yourself a letter
- Do something creative (i.e. paint, draw, write a poem, sculpt, etc.)
- Make a vision board for your goals
- Do your make makeup if you want and your favorite hairstyle
- Paint your nails
- Have a photoshoot and take lots of selfies! Share them if you want
- Write a list of goals you want to accomplish for this new year
All of these things are optional and this list is not conclusive or definitive. I hope that it can be a soundboard of ideas for you to consider if you’re unsure of what to do with your day. I did many of these things and it made my birthday fun. But most importantly, I realized two things.
1) Although I was at first disappointed and a bit sad to be alone today, it’s a privilege that I am able to live alone and have a space to disconnect for a moment to focus on me. That’s something that many people are not fortunate to have. Be appreciative of that.
2) Just because we have to be physically distanced from each other, doesn’t mean that we need to be socially distanced from each other. Stay connected with the people who care about you and want to see you happy. They will make sure to make you feel loved and special today – even from a distance.
Today I found balance. I am so happy and so grateful to see another year. I hope that this year is full of blessings and prosperity. Advancement and abundance. I plan to build and break down barriers. I hope I reach my goals, I hope to reach new heights. I can’t believe I’ve lived for a quarter century. I feel amazing and I am so thankful for all the people in my life, the love I have received, and the blessings that God has bestowed upon me. I am ready for this next part of my journey. I welcome this new chapter. I am planting new seeds in unaccustomed earth. I am praying for them to grow.
Happy B(earth) Day to Me! ✨