Yesterday I turned 19. The awkward age before one is officially out of their teens and the birthday that isn't traditionally as important as 16, 18 or 21. The age of 19 is not a 'milestone,' and so doesn't expect a grandiose soiree of sexy time, reckless behaviour, heavy drinking, and morning after regrets. Poor lame 19.
Surprisingly my birthday this year was my favourite one. Although most of my birthdays were –out of choice –quiet. This year was especially care free since people don’t make a fuss about being this age, and as a self-proclaimed introvert, that earns double points. I simply spent the day with my best friend, who accompanied me in ‘fast-food hopping,’ taking advantage of the free empty calorie food that you get on your special day (I swear I was 2 kilos heavier by the end). Later that night, I dined with my family at Shakahari a quaint town-house conversion in Carlton that serves amazing vegetarian food that we watered down with a bottle of an organic Shiraz called Battle of Bosworth. Perfect.
On the notion of surprise presents, I can’t remember the last time I was unbeknownst to what lay beneath the tacky wrapping paper. Turning 19 is no exception. This year, Dad and I went to Ikea on my birthday eve. I went on a manic frenzy, I was my four year old self at Disneyland; wide eyed and euphoric, mesmerised by the intricate and chic showroom. No sarcasm intended, the Ikea experience is never complete without an average tasting meal –cheap cannelloni, crusty mash and Oreo cheesecake with added ‘fridge smell,’ for dessert. Perfect.
My last party was my 14th. Weeks of preparation went into one night. I made playlists of songs that I hated. There was an overabundance of untouched food. And I spent the night jumping from one group to another trying to make sure everyone was having a grand time. Never again.
Since then I’m not one for troublesome, complex, or well thought out displays when it comes to my day. I completely defied the traditions that connotes to the past ‘significant’ birthdays. I did NOT make a dramatic entrance emerging from a large cake at my 16th revealing my face freshly pierced with hooks and bars. Neither did I conceive an ornate gathering Gatsby-esque style to get piss drunk, with champagne fountains and an elaborate dance number on my 18th and I probably won’t for my 21st. I would much rather end the night getting fat, watching an episode of my favourite show –currently The Mindy Project.
As someone who values the time they have on their own and tries to avoid overwhelming attention, I made my birthday private on Facebook. I find greetings from ‘Facebook friends,’ (note: ‘Facebook friends’) to be incredibly vain. You get a surplus of meaningless ‘Happy Birthday!’ posts on your Facebook wall. The whole thing feels disingenuous. I mean, if they really wanted your day to be ‘happy,’ they shouldn't need a reminder of having your name embellished with the ‘gift’ emoji. And then feeling obliged to respond to every single one just feels like work. And the last thing you want to do on your birthday is work. I apologise for sounding like a complete douche. Do know that I did receive the most beautiful heartfelt messages from my closest friends, that made me smile like an absolute dork.
Even though I’m young the novelty of birthdays died a long time ago. Why do we invest so much time to celebrate life on just one day when we should be doing that every day? Birthdays for me, have become less selfish through lavish means and more selfish through making the day –just like every day of the calendar year –as gratifying as possible, even if it’s as simple as eating your weight in churros with your best friend, or feeling like a child again at Ikea.