My birthday was on Feb. 22, but the anxiety surrounding it began a month before when my roommate told me she would like to set up a birthday party for me. Thoughts flooded my head, one after the other, with more intensity each time. I froze and could not formulate a “yes” or “no.”
After the age of eight, I stopped having birthday parties. I went out to dinner for my sweet 16 and that was it.
Here are five reasons why birthdays, not just my own, make me nervous… and you might just be able to relate.
The pressure of remembering birthdays
Without Snapchat or Facebook birthday notifications, my memory of others’ birthdays would be awful, but not everyone has social media, especially the older generations. No one wants to be forgotten on their birthday by their friends or family members, and I definitely do not want to be part of the reason that someone gets the birthday blues due to my inability to keep track of the day they were born.
Since I don’t check social media often because of my busy schedule, I get nervous I will miss one of my best friends’ birthdays because Google Calendar let me down just one time. Then just like that, their 21st birthdays have passed without me wishing them a happy birthday.
Being the center of attention
Now this directly relates to my own birthday, but a huge reason why I never had birthday parties after the age of eight is because I never liked when people sang to me.
I hated it when people would sing happy birthday at a party and everyone, literally everyone, would have their phones in my face trying to record the moment. I don’t mind if it is one person, but too many phones overwhelms me. The awkward moment of trying to ask people not to record me spikes my social anxiety, which tends to increase when everyone is sitting there, singing to you, and you just have to awkwardly smile at them.
I do not like that feeling, and I avoid it at all costs.
Making party plans
Let’s go back to the way I froze when my roommate told me she wanted to set up a birthday party for me.
After overthinking the question, I answered “yes.” I thought that I should give it a try seeing that I have not had a birthday since I was 16 years old. She mentioned that she would plan it for me and all I would have to do is give her a guest list and some smaller details I would like for the party. Then she would take care of the rest. With that being said, I became anxious thinking about what cake everyone would like.
What if they are gluten-free or allergic to chocolate? Will people be upset? I over-thought about the decor and what food I could have to make sure that everyone was included. I worried about whether the friends I was inviting, since they are all from different groups, would click or not. I worried about accidentally excluding someone. After my roommate realized that I overanalyze everything, she took full control of the situation and told me not to worry about it.
Thank goodness for my roommate!
The discomfort of opening gifts in front of friends
I could care less about gifts. To be honest, my friends, in themselves, are my gifts. I love each and every one of them. I know that may sound cheesy, but it is true. I get nervous when I open gifts in front of people. Even though I know I will love every gift, I get anxious about being the center of attention, like I mentioned above.
I became apprehensive about the situation when I started to realize that some people might not be able to afford as much as others, so then I got worried that they might be uncomfortable. To deal with this, I stopped opening gifts at parties to make sure that no one feels uneasy about the situation.
Distressed feeling on not being posted about social media
Who has ever been nervous to check their social media, especially Instagram, on the day of their birthday, out of fear that no one has posted about them? While I don’t like being posted and do not get stressed over this, many of my friends do. With the rise of social media, being posted about, especially on your special day, is so important for some. While I cannot totally relate, I understand why. It is just another stressor that makes birthdays not as enjoyable as they should be.