Our birthday comes around once a year. It’s a day that marks another year we have lived, another year we have experienced. Some of us see it as day to celebrate.
Some of us see it as a day to not celebrate, and last year I wrote about this in a post called 7 Reasons To Not Celebrate Your Birthday.
For those of us who have reason to not celebrate our birthday and don’t want a fuss on this day, we might not shout from the rooftops about turning a year older. We might even go to great lengths to avoid drawing attention to our birthday in a time where many think you should be entitled to some special treat.
Celebrating my birthday and having anywhere near a big birthday bash is not something up my alley. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more reserved about celebrating my birthday, these days no more wanting a party (never had a party anyway) or some kind of celebration. In fact, I try to avoid any kind of birthday surprise someone might pull on me.
Here are some ways to avoid celebrating your birthday and avoid someone throwing you a surprise birthday party, and keeping your birthday on the down low.
1. Make your birthday just another day
Go about your birthday like any other day. For instance, if your birthday falls on a day where you usually go to work or school, then go to work or school and do what you’d usually do. Go about your daily routine, showing up and leaving on time, doing what you do each day.
The more you act like it is a normal day and don’t mention it is your birthday, the more your birthday comes across any other day, no celebration needed. It’s funny how many people seem to get excited at the mention of someone’s birthday, always so quick to wish the birthday person ‘Happy Birthday’ and being nice to the person (despite not knowing them too well). To some, birthdays are days to show you appreciate and care about others.
Blending your birthday into another normal day as you are out and about, it’s sort of like being a spy covering up any trail left behind. My birthday these past few years have fallen on a weekday where I have to work, and I give myself an imaginary the CIA badge of honour when I’m able to walk into work, do my work like a well-oiled machine and walk out without anyone wishing me ‘Happy Birthday’.
2. Avoid making special plans
To keep your birthday quiet, try not to make any special birthday plans involving others. In the days leading up to your birthday (or month as some people like month long birthday celebrations), friends and family might invite you out to celebrate your special day.
Your nice friends and family might want to catch up with you on this day to wish you well over a meal and a few drinks. Or they might say they want to catch up with you on your birthday, take you out and then you find yourself front and centre of a very public, very crowded surprise birthday party. That can be overwhelming if you’re an introvert or have some kind of condition such as epilepsy or agoraphobia.
If you are really worried about the latter in the lead up to your birthday, maybe turn down invitations to go out – giving subtle hints you don’t want a fuss.
3. Hermit and shell
Staying in and having a quiet day on your birthday is a good way to stay out of the spotlight. For instance, you could spend the day alone. You could go somewhere by yourself, going on a nice hike or shopping trip. You could also turn off your phone to really have the day to yourself without anyone interrupting your day.
By spending the day with and only yourself like a hermit crab under its shell, chances are you’ll avoid having a surprise party being sprung on you. Once again you can be like a spy, going incognito to new levels not just blending into the background but disappearing completely for a day.
You could take the day off from work or school on your birthday and avoid confrontational birthday attention. However, if it’s out of character for you to take the day off work without reason, then people could suspect it’s your birthday and they might make a fuss the next day.
4. Avoid social media
So many social media platforms have the option for you to display your birthday publicly. If you want to keep the day a secret, don’t put your birthday out there online. Anyone can stumble upon your (public) Facebook and Twitter profile and see when you were born. One time someone at my work saw my birthday on Facebook and on my birthday walked into work and announced ‘Happy Birthday!’. Then everyone followed with a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday!’ and ‘Do you want to celebrate?’ and also ‘What are you doing to celebrate?’.
Some years back I closed off my Facebook wall around my birthday. Not a fan of people wishing ‘Happy Birthday’ out of obligation just because it is your birthday. That said, there are sincerely thoughtful people out there who like wishing each other Happy Birthday this way – you might not think of them in years but they might actually think of you now and then.
5. Keep people guessing
Don’t mention your birthday or confirm it so as to keep it under wraps. When someone asks you when your birthday is, perhaps stare them right in the face, put on your best poker face and don’t give an answer. Stay silent and keep staring. They might then get the message you aren’t letting up.
Perhaps you can try making it fun and in response ask them to guess when your birthday is. One time someone wanted to know my birthday and managed to narrow it down to the correct month. So I got him to play the guessing game and you would think he would eventually get it. He didn’t.
6. Let others know you don’t want a fuss
The most direct way to avoid a fuss or celebration around your birthday is to say so. Be direct with others around you, out and about with it, insisting on no big scale birthday party and no ‘Happy Birthday’ singing. You could be even more direct and let family and friends know how you want to and are going to spend the day.
Each year my family are pretty keen on celebrating my birthday, buying a cake and singing me the song. After putting up with that for many years (even into adult years), I insisted no more song. Finally one year my family decided to drop the song but not the cake and continue to serve it up.
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Not wanting to celebrate one’s birthday may not be the same as disliking and wanting to avoid it altogether. As I wrote previously in last year’s blog post, some people get stressed over their birthday as their birthday could be a reminder of unpleasant occasions, bring up questions about existential life crises or they don’t get the expectations of needing to do something to be happy on their birthday.
The notion of the ‘birthday effect’ has been proposed. Also known as the birthday blues, there has been research suggesting an individual’s likelihood of death seems to increase around their birthday. While some Swiss researchers from the University of Zurich suggests you are 14% more likely to die on your birthday than on any other day of the year, there is no conclusive evidence. Usually when it comes to birthday and celebrations, one is more likely to go out and have a good time, perhaps drive home after a few drinks or stay out late on the streets running into trouble or being trouble, plan an outrageous-sort-of-reckless vacation or maybe even worry about the future up until we feel stressed out.
In short, we might not mind our birthday (hey, just another day) but rather not celebrate it because we 1) don’t like celebrations and 2) don’t want a fuss or attention or 3) don’t want to burden others.
That said, we’re all social creatures by nature and it’s hard to live a life of just being alone. In 2016 a study on social animals (mice) found brains crave company after periods of isolation. Similarly researchers at McGill University Medical Centre in Montreal found isolated participants in a study felt restless and became highly emotional after spending time in sound-proof cubicles deprived of human contact. Also, prolonged periods of isolation and feeling loneliness affect mortality rates. So in a way it’s no surprise many people don’t mind celebrating or at the very least coming together for birthdays – it’s in most of us to want to be and be together.
So it can be hard to avoid friends and family who want to make a fuss as they care about you and appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. And so it’s not always possible to avoid celebrating your birthday. Just like how life is out of control, how you spend your birthday can be out of your control. Someone could outsmart you and throw you the birthday surprise you least want and least expect…but also one to be remembered forever.
Do you try to avoid celebrating your birthday?