I celebrated my birthday in February, and it was the first time in my 36 years that I’ve spent the day alone.
It had never even crossed my mind that this was something I might do. In fact, if you’d suggested it to me before this year, I’d have balked. It didn’t seem right somehow; wouldn’t it be lonely? Aren’t you supposed to celebrate with loved ones, go out… you know, make some noise about it?
And then this year came along and something in me said, I think I want to do this one alone. No meals out, no party, no drinks, no cake with candles or balloons. No fuss.
Of course I wondered if it would be lonely, if I would regret not making plans. I was slightly nervous I’d find too late I’d made a mistake.
It turned out to be one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.
I gave myself an agenda-free day, spent time reading, treated myself to a mug I’d been eyeing up for weeks in a shop near my home. In fact I ended up coming home with flowers, cake and some unexpected new clothes. The sun shone, which always helps of course. I had an IM chat with a dear friend. I spent an inordinate amount of time on Pinterest, lying on the floor, surrounded by cushions, tea and cake.
It was a slow day, a peaceful day. I did receive a few cards, and discovered that gifts, while lovely, are not necessary. In fact, I sent a gift to my parents; a bunch of flowers, as a ‘thank you for having me’ gift.
I learned many things on my birthday this year, about myself, what I need and want, what I’m capable of, what really feels good to me. I think mostly though, I learned that changing one thing can create a shift that gives you a new vision on something, whether that’s your work, your life, your relationships, yourself or something else.
And of course that is not limited to the ‘big’ things like life events! Small changes can make a big difference in creative projects, in a painting, in the outcome of a story.
I don’t know if I agree that you ‘must’ do the thing you cannot do. But I do know that you can. And that if you do, it will be more than you ever imagined.
Have you ever spent a birthday alone? Or taken action you never thought you were capable of? Did it change things for you? I’d love to hear how your brave or unexpected choices have shifted things in your life.