I turn 21 in 35 days, and it’s freaking me out. Not in an ‘ermagerd I’m going to be soooooo old’ way, I’m actually excited about being 21 – it’s just that I have the worst anxiety around my birthday. It’s supposed to be a happy time, but all I can think about is the party, and it stresses me to no end. I love birthday parties, especially my own – I mean, who doesn’t? But I always have the little girl’s voice inside my head going, “What if nobody comes?”.
I had somewhat of a traumatic 19th birthday. I was dating someone, and from months in advance I had been asking him to organize something, because at the time I was still relatively new and pretty much all of my friends were still really just his friends who knew me as “_____’s girlfriend”. I hadn’t gotten over my initial culture shock and anxiety so I was too scared to invite them out, fearing they wouldn’t come because they didn’t know me that well, which is why I had asked him to organize something – thinking that if he invited them, they would be more likely to come.
Long story short and it was a week until my birthday and he still hadn’t done anything. At this point I gave up on the idea of a party, and had resigned myself to maybe just hanging out with a few people – and so I asked him again if he could get in touch with someone, anyone really, and that maybe I could get a cake and blow out some candles.
I don’t know, something in me really places waay too much importance on the cake. There’s just something about all your friends around you singing (sometimes awfully, but that makes it so much better), being the center of attention and then everyone watching as you blow out the candles and make a wish. Man, I’m awful. I’m crying just typing this.
But yeah, at this point all I wanted was just a few people and a cake. That’s not too much to ask for, right? Maybe it is. Maybe I’m spoilt. But the little girl inside of me was so distraught as the day drew nearer and no plans had been made. I felt like it was my fault because I hadn’t overcome my anxiety and asked people myself, but those who have the same phobia will understand that it’s just so crippling, and so I slowly just started to accept that nothing was going to happen.
My parents flew over from NSW to Melbourne so they were in town for my birthday, and in the end (the afternoon before my birthday), I took it upon myself to book them, myself, and my boyfriend at the time tickets to go see a musical. In itself was amazing – I ended up going to see it again – but it just wasn’t a birthday thing in my mind, just taking my parents out to see a show. Again, I think I’m spoilt in saying all this, I know people get much less.
I wanted to stay out in the city after the show, I figured if nothing else me and my boyfriend could have a good time, who knows, maybe I’d meet some nice people and they’d all wish me happy birthday. But instead we went home, my boyfriend reasoning that we’d only be able to have a drink or two before we’d have to head home. I started crying in the taxi. Silently, thankful it was dark. When we got home I cried again. Cried because I didn’t get cake, and I didn’t get to blow out the candles. It’s so stupid, I know, but it just felt like the whole world had forgotten it was my birthday. The one day of the year that’s mine and I didn’t get to have it.
My boyfriend and I went for a drive that night and he took me to a 24 hour supermarket, where I paid for my own cake and candles (how sad is that), and blew out the candles in the car. He laughed at me for being so desperate for a cake, and I never admitted it because I loved him but that hurt me so much.
Anyway, that was probably the worst birthday I’ve had. My 20th was much better in comparison – in that something actually happened – but was still small and I still felt ridden with anxiety. But I got cake and had friends over, and it was good.
Which brings us to now. I’m still organizing my 21st, and it’s giving me so much grief. I’m torn between being blasé about my birthday and just saying ‘let’s all just go out and party’, and having a ‘proper’ 21st. Since coming over here, I’ve noticed a couple of things that 21st’s all seem to have in common… One of them being speeches. Having only been living here for 2 and a bit years, I don’t know if I should ask people to do anything for me, because everyone’s really only known me for the same amount of time. Part of me is also terrified of asking anyone to do them for me, because I’m scared they’ll say no.
Secondly there’s the venue + bar tab, which I haven’t really spoken to my parents about, but I can take that out of my own money so that’s alright. I’m still debating whether or not to have my party at a venue, because I’m paranoid that not enough people will turn up and it’ll feel hollow and awkward, or having it at home – but I have almost every other social gathering at my house, so it wouldn’t feel any different to those.
Anyway. Should stop feeling terrified, wipe the tears from my cheeks (again) and actually sort this damn thing out. I just get too fragile around my birthday.
Honestly …I’m scared.