Stressful Birthdays
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10 Ways to avoid stressing about another birthday, It's Just A number

Age is just a number, not your name tag.

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Lianne Josbacher
My 23rd Birthday at Barbacoa

About a week ago, my twenty-third birthday came right up from behind me. I swear, it does this every year. Every year when I was a little girl, during my birthday month, I would get so excited about my birthday— what kind of presents was I going to get, how many presents would come that year, if my mom would hide my presents or wrap them extravagantly, and how many people would actually say "happy birthday" to me. Hey, give me a break. It was the one time out of the year I would be treated and looked at as a Disney Princess: I had to give it my all and my little, naive-self deserved all of those presents and all of that cake. You might be smirking or chuckling while reading this, but don't deny that you've felt like royalty on your day of birth. I certainly am not.


In actuality, I still feel like have this little Disney Princess feeling the day before and the day of my birthday. As I have grown up over the years though, I have learned that the number and the quality of presents cannot top the quality of spending time with those most important to you. And, here are some other little words of wisdom, whether repetitive or cliche, to keep in mind during your month or even day of birth:

1. Time doesn't start over once you turn another year older

Maybe it's because I'm Asian, but every year I feel the need to accomplish last-minute goals or details right up to my birthday. It's sort of similar to the Chinese New Year, where the Chinese emphasizing the cleaning of one's home and one's self, except I try to wipe every little thing I have on my slate to start fresh the following day. I put it either on the backburner, make a Post-It note about it and completely ignore it, or not realizing I needed to get that thing done months ago. Either way, I stress about not fully "cleansing" myself and end up thinking I am not good enough. Spoiler alert: adulting is not fun, especially coming right out of college. Just saying.

2. A beauty makeover will not simply make you into a better person

Although coming from a non-beauty guru, I don't believe makeup completely changes a person. Yes, it gives oneself a better sense of self-confidence but not necessarily to the point of becoming an entirely different version of you— hopefully positive. The day before my birthday, I went to Walgreens and bought myself some makeup, alongside with some body wash. Every time I go into a makeup shop or down the beauty section of a store, I am always in shock by the number of different kinds of makeup, nevertheless the infinite makeup brands, anyone could use to "paint their face on."

While in Walgreens, I was going to be bold and try a different kind of mascara makeup brand, but I realized that a different makeup brand isn't going to give me magical powers to turn extra pretty. I realized that a different makeup wasn't going to make me "cooler" or one step closer to becoming a YouTube beauty guru. Yes, I can make a "cat eye" and have finally figured out how to up my eyeshadow game, but a naked face is a better face in my opinion.

3. You don't develop super intelligence overnight


Don't get me wrong, as you age, you do indeed get smarter but it doesn't happen right after swallowing a piece of birthday cake. I've been twenty-three for almost a week now, and I can honestly say my intelligence level has not improved. Yes, I just finished my 5th summer book (pleasure reading versus forced reading), but that doesn't mean I have become as smart as Sheldon Cooper after reading these books. Like most things in life, things sadly cannot last forever. For some, it's the ability to do CrossFit while for some it's the ability to run a mile consistently. For others, it might be as mundane as writing cursive or walking without having to take as many breaks or heavy breaths.

Whatever it is, don't take it for granted.

4. Starting over doesn't mean you won't have road blocks

We don't have a crystal ball all synched up with our DNA, our stream of conscious, our eating or spending habits. It's like a combination between a fit bit and a 23andMe DNA test. As a person with super Type-A Personality, I like to know things in advance instead of walking into a situation like a deer in headlights. Sometimes, it makes me go crazy when I don't know what's going to happen next or what the next move is. It definitely is a process, and continues to be a process, but not worrying about what happened yesterday, what will happen in a couple of hours, or what could happen in six months will help all of us live less like walking on eggshells.

5. Don't change your identity, change your self-image and your self-acceptance


Easier said than done, I know, but seriously: a better perception of who you are, your flaws, your achievements, your downfalls, your mistakes, and what you truly want (not what your friends want or your parents want, or what you think others expect of you) is the start to a cleanlier you. A continuing self-improvement sounds Gucci to me.

6. Don't make a mental list of "what I should have" or "what I should be doing" at this age

As I've said, before: age is simply a number not an identifier. From personal experience, especially being a former gymnast for twenty-one years of my life, I have always been a harder critique of myself. I am so passionate and am willing to do whatever it takes to be the best, or close to being the very best, that I end up feeling worse about myself. I know it's not the best idea to dwell on the past, but in this case, looking back at how far you've come to being the person you are today makes the slightest difference.

7. It's OK if you don't get money (or gift cards) as a present

As a recent college graduate, and even as a little kid, receiving money as a birthday present has always been a plus! During my undergrad years, I would love having a mini stack of gift cards I needed to use— it was free money and I could spend it on whatever I wanted to, no matter how unnecessary or stupid the purchase was. Don't get me wrong, the pit of stomach always hopes for gift cards in my birthday card or included with my wrapped birthday present, but I've learned that the smallest, personalized gifts make the best kind of present.

8. Take advantage of places that provide free food on your birthday!

Here's a list of places that provide something special for your day of birth: for free!

9. Low-key birthdays are just as fun!

A sum of my twenty-third birthday: going to physical therapy, then Walgreens, tidying up my apartment, spending time with my boyfriend, going out to Barbacoa for my birthday dinner, and watching John Mulaney's newest Netflix Stand-Up Comedy Gig at radio City. Yes, I balled my eyes out from laughing so hard. And yes, my stomach was sore the next day.

10. Don't focus on the number of people who send you "HBD" social media posts/private messages

In my opinion, those who make the time and effort to reach out to you on your day of birth are the real MVPs. It's the thought that counts!

Instead of focusing on what we can change about ourselves and start over, let's focus on what we can do one day at a time throughout our entire life and not just once a year on our day of birth.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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