My birthday was the other day. And though I am now older than I ever thought I would be, I have conquered one thing: the birthday blues.
As far as I can remember I had unrealistic expectations for my birthday. And, then, when the day came, and it sucked.... I got depressed.
Also, my birthday is RIGHT after Christmas... so.... you know.
High School is really where the blues began. There was the year that my mom didn't buy me a birthday cake because I was on the South Beach diet and I pretended I didn't want one. Why didn't she read my 15 year old mind?
Or, every year that my birthday activity involved "shopping for audition dresses" or "shopping for voice recital dresses" (BLECH) which could not have been more stressful or depressing because... I hated shopping (yes.), auditions and recitals stress me out, but the biggest reason most likely was: I had not in fact been following the South Beach diet, or whatever other stupid plan I had given my poor teenage self, so shopping double sucked. (Also, my mother is a clothes designer and artist- and shopping with her is not that fun. Because its like an art project for her, and all I want to do is hide my head in a hole like an ostrich and hope that nobody can see my body).
But now that I am wiser, I see that all my problems were in my head. And I was also a big part of not making my birthday special.
Mom: "What do you want to do on your birthday Caroline!?"
"Ugh, I dunno.... I don't care"
"I guess we can go shopping. Or something"
"But you don't even like shopping"
"I know but I can't think of anything else"
"What birthday cake should I get you??"
"YOU KNOW I CAN'T EAT BIRTHDAY CAKE, MOM"
"Ok, what should we do for your birthday, then?"
"UGH. I dunno. Go shopping. I guess."
"Do you want to have a party for your birthday?"
"Uhh- No... too hard. I guess I'll just have like a dinner with friends"
"Ok, who do you want to invite?"
"Um.... actually... let's just have a family dinner. That is easier"
"You sure that's what you want?"
"uhhhh--- I guesss".
Yea, it was pretty much my fault. My little dark raincloud high school outlook + my unrealistic expectations that I got from tv shows, made my birthday blues what they were.
In college, my Mom would take me back to New York from winter break and ask me what I wanted to do, and my answers remained the same and very unhelpful.
One year I responded: "Who cares. Everything I want you can't give me anway!!!!" (I suppose: health, happiness, success)
My sophomore year, she gave me the gift of designing my dorm room (that she thought I had done a poor job with). She transformed it into this weird tent with canvas drop cloths on the walls in an attempt to "design my room to match my dorm furniture". It looked like a padded cell and I cried.
My junior year's birthday was only salvaged by my stumbling across "Engrish.com" as I hid in a room with my computer trying to avoid the world. It really cheered me up.
My senior year I cried, because on my birthday was the "shopping task" of finding an outfit for my musical theater industry agent showcase. I'm telling you, clothes shopping with my designer mother is like being critiqued in an art class. IT IS NOT FUN. And there aren't many good things to say. Even when she is being wise and protecting me with softer words, I know what she is thinking. I know what we are alllllllll thinking.
Last year I threw myself a party at my apartment, and I drove myself into insanity and exhaustion preparing, hosting and cleaning up the next day. Not to mention spending a LOT of money. Parties are expensive!
But this year! This year I woke up to my best friend's alarm while she visited the city! This year I made myself horrible, horrible seasonal winter squash based pancakes topped with a stick of butter and salt! I ate 10 of them and felt ill! I looked in the mirror at my grain-free-Christmas-treat-transformed body who doesn't fit into my already specially made large bra- I thought of doing my usual birthday crying- but instead said to myself:
No, Caroline! No! This year you decide to be happy! This year you will banish the birthday blues! You have the power to feel fat and be happy anyway! You have the power to enjoy your birthday party! And feel special! You HAVE THE POWER TO BE A BIRTHDAY QUEEN.
So, I DID. I went to the closest store to my apartment. I SHOPPED for a dress all by myself! And my new friend- a black, gay, fabulous salesman- made me feel BEAUTIFUL (but all the while I remembered that his job was to lie to me so I spend more money). He told me I should wear the skin-tight dress he brought out because it is "hot" and "this dress is why you go to the gym " (ha HA! joke is on you). I ended up buying the dress he said was "cute but more appropriate to wear to your friend's birthday party" because I listen to my owwwwwn voice nowwwww....
I went to my babysitting job, cleaned up poop out of the pull-up of a 4 year old, and got to leave work 5 minutes early!
I came home, got ready with my friend for my party at a bar I had never been to.... arriving only to find that the back room I had counted on was taken by a party that actually called.
But my friends arrived!---- and it was fun ANYWAY!
People! If I keep on using exclamation points like this I am going to drive us all INSANE!
My birthday was on a Thursday, so I finished up the weekend by staying in both following nights to recover from all the exhaustion that forcing myself to be happy induced upon me. I am recovered now.