Single & celebrating! 4 ways to make the most of birthdays
I have a birthday coming up, and every year among the celebrations, the candles and the parties, there’s a little pang of disappointment and fear as I turn another year older, still single, and not where I imagined I’d be in life. Some years are harder than others. I remember the year I mourned the whole day because I was one year closer to being “too old” to make it in the music industry. The year after when I decided to embrace my wisdom, swam in a freezing cold sea and felt like I could overcome anything.
There was the year I was seeing someone and they didn’t wish me a happy birthday. And then there was my 2020 lockdown birthday when I was back in my parents’ house feeling like a child, when everyone else my age was celebrating birthdays with their partners. This year I’m vowing to enjoy my birthday as a single person. The birthday blues may come, but here are a few ways we can make the most of birthdays and make the blues leave just as quickly…
Try to make your birthday fun
Whether you feel like celebrating or not, it’s good to mark the occasion and make the most of birthdays in some way. Our culture offers many opportunities to celebrate couples and families – weddings, engagement parties, baby showers, Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day – but single people rarely get celebrated. It’s good to remind ourselves that we are important to God and to others, and our lives are worth celebrating.
You could make plans to see a friend or family member, or arrange have a phone call with a friend who lives far away. If you’ll be on your own, do something to treat yourself. It could be as simple as ordering your favourite takeaway, doing an activity you enjoy like a walk or cycle ride, reading a good book or visiting a gallery or museum.
There’s no doubt that the past 18 months have been incredibly difficult for so many people. But even in the hardest of times, when I look back I can still find moments of happiness, and can see the goodness of God in the midst of them. Last year on my birthday I sat down and made a list of memories from the past year that brought me joy. Some were big things – trips I’d taken before the pandemic hit, a show I’d seen at the theatre.
Others were smaller – that one movie night with a friend where we’d laughed until we cried. A phone call I had with my grandmother. Long walks by myself where God opened my eyes to how beautiful his world is. Life can be really tough sometimes, but God is always faithful. He is still there.
Make a birthday bucket list
I like to make a bucket list of things I want to do over the next year. These could be big things, like moving house, or a trip I want to take, or smaller things like doing a fun activity with close friends, learning a new skill, visiting local sites I’ve never been to before. It’s good to share your list with a friend, either so that they can join in or celebrate with you as you tick things off. My best friend recently battled her way through Russian author Tolstoy’s classic novel ‘War and Peace‘. I can’t see myself doing particular reading marathon that anytime soon…but I celebrated with her nonetheless!
Making a birthday bucket list helps to bring some excitement into the year ahead, ways to make each year unique. There’s a risk when you’re single of waiting until you meet someone for your life to begin. We need to be proactive about living life now, even if it just in the small things. Each year when I look back, I’m grateful for the experiences that I’ve had, special moments with friends, things that I’ve chosen to do that maybe wouldn’t have happened if I’d been married.
Remember your life and your journey are unique
Finally, when the birthday blues get you down, it’s helpful to remember that while society paints this perfect blueprint of meeting someone fresh out of school or university, getting married, having children and living happily ever after – the reality is much different. Life is complicated. People are complicated. Some relationships sadly end. Some people find love for the first time in their 40s, 50s, 60s and far beyond.
You are not running out of time. Things might not have worked out how you imagined, but your story is just as valid. Everyone has their own journey and unique set of circumstances. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Just ask God to show you how you can make the most of where you are right now – and when they come around, make the most of birthdays!