I’ve always hated my birthday. I think it’s due to the fact that I hold this one day a year to an exceedingly high standard that it can never quite reach. I see influencers like Tana Mongeau and Kylie Jenner dining at five-star Malibu restaurants and vacationing at world-class resorts in Bali for their birthdays, and I’m suddenly reminded of my student debt and the fact that I’m well… not a celebrity.
But this year is different.
With the onset of the Coronavirus, social distancing is a practice embedded into our way of life for the foreseeable future. No lavish birthday bashes with hundreds of guests or expensive dinners at renowned restaurants, even for Hollywood’s elite. Everyone, including your guilty pleasure celebrities, have to view this special day through a new lens.
At the beginning of April, I had a conversation six feet apart from my best friend in his backyard while we “celebrated” his 20th birthday. I cynically joked that although still three months away, my birthday could very well be in quarantine seeing as how the virus was rapidly progressing in our state. We laughed and both naively agreed it wouldn’t be that way; that for my 20th birthday we would hug and be together again with Coronavirus being a distant, dreadful memory.
Well, here we are: three months later and my birthday has snuck up on me once again.
With no end in sight to this pandemic we’re facing, I weighed my options when thinking about a safe yet fulfilling way to spend this day that I dread so much every year. I considered dinner at an outdoor restaurant, or staying home with my family and watching a movie, possibly buying those number balloons to spell out my age and getting a good Instagram photo — all plausible, yet mildly disappointing options.
If you’re having trouble deciding what to do for your birthday this year — when you hold the responsibility on your shoulders of stopping the spread of a global pandemic — my advice to you would be to look at the day through a different lens. Large parties are not an option, but maybe consider having a small celebration with a few close friends: sit around a fire pit, go to a drive-in movie, or have a potluck picnic. If you and your family are on good terms, stock up on sweets and finish that game of monopoly you started God knows how long ago. A quarantine birthday doesn’t have to be an absolute bummer: allow yourself this one day out of the last four months to invite in the people you love most; whether that be physically from a safe distance, or figuratively in your heart.
This year for my birthday I decided I’m going “down the shore” (to the beach, a true Jersey girl at heart) with my boyfriend and family. Surprisingly, I’m actually pretty excited about it. My plans might not include the friends I naively thought I would be able to see on this day, but I know we’d be together if we could, and that’s enough to placate the birthday cynic in me for now.