How to enjoy your birthday and banish the pity party

When I was a kid, my mother used to go out of her way to ensure I have the best birthday experience every single year. Starting from the best outfit, to the latest kids shows, to the long guest list and off course the cake. When I grew up, birthdays became so disappointing and depressing that I came to the verge of developing a birthday phobia - if thats a thing.


I am a perfectionist by nature, and for those of who are not, you kind of have this constant need to ensure that everything is perfect, the best, the greatest and you become so anxious when it's anything less. Needless to say, when it comes to special occasions, I always want to ensure I have the best experience ever - especially around major milestones. And so my birthday phobia started on my 16th birthday..

16 was for me the first big adult milestone. It was also when I became old enough for my mom to throw me one of her ever-grand birthday celebrations but the expectation of having it still resonated with me as I marched into mu adult years. And so, I must have started dreaming about it a year in advance, imagining what I will wear, how I will act surprised when I walk into a restaurant to find all my friends and loved ones there screaming "Surprise!". 

But then my 16th birthday came, and I celebrated in a small gathering with my closest friends. It was not a surprise in any way, and we all had to be back home by 10, and so it was over before I even realized it has started. 

I still remember how I felt that evening. Laying in my bed thinking "Well, thats kind of sad..". Where are my celebrations? the balloons? the huge massive cake? Why wouldnt people see this GRAND milestone for what it is? Why isnt it "perfect"?..but I was short of answers.

That feeling stayed with me in every single occasion that followed.

Birthdays, Bridal Shower, Bachelorette Party, Baby shower, Mother's day..I would get anxious before the day and dream and plan and set my super-high silent expectations, which was almost impossible for anyone to reach.

Now fast forward a few years (ehm, decades) and I reach a massive milestone..turning 30. For more than 2 years I fantasized spending this birthday on a fancy beach in the Caribbean, a lavish hotel in Santorini, or going wild in Ibizia and I have been discussing it for months with my husband. Then the month came, and life happened. Between our crazy business schedules and a few other unexpected hiccups, I ended exactly where I was on the evening of my 16th bed, at 11 PM, starring at the ceiling and thinking why the hell am I here again?!

For a few hours I threw myself a pity party, I mean, turning 30 itself sucks, but add to it spending it alone, with the super high bar set (We are talking the level of a surprise birthday performance by ColdPlay here!) and it becomes one of the biggest disappointments in my life. I was bummed, I felt a sense of resentment that I could not celebrate this milestone the way I always dreamed I would.

Then, it hit me. What the hell am I waiting for? Why am I even here? Why am I placing that much silent expectations only on others and not taking any of the responsibility? And why shall happiness be only about how big the celebration is? I am a grown (Gulp, 30-year-old) woman, I live in one of the BEST cities in the world, and I have all life's pleasures within a stone throw away. So what am I waiting for? 

And so it happened.

I decided to banish the pity party and to take matters into my own hands, giving myself the BEST birthday weekend ever. So I booked myself into one of the best spas in the world, treated myself to an incredible caviar treatment and massage, then went out to get my ultimate favorite burger in town, then went on a shopping spree and got everything I have been wanting for sometime, then bought myself the biggest and most chocolate-filled cake ever and came back home and threw myself a birthday party with only me and my little daughter in our pyjamas singing our lungs out before stuffing our faces with the heavenly cake and laughing till we fell asleep. And it ROCKED. 

For the first time ever, I managed to let go of the anxiousness and genuinely enjoyed my day. Taking control of my own happiness has been life changing. I also had an important revelation: Celebration shouldn't be about how big is the cake, or how expensive is the gift; its about celebrating all what you have achieved and the blessings in your life. Its about you celebrating the fact that you have made it through another year. Its about you reflecting on what has gone badly and how can you make it better.

Unfortunately, In today's world, we have been taught to focus too much on the commercial side of things that we often forget the sentimental and more realistic purpose. Take Christmas Holidays for example: more and more each year it is becoming about the picture perfect tree, jumpers, grand gifts, fireplace photos, and less emphasis on the essence of the holidays - spending quality time with family.

Dont get me wrong, we all still need to feel appreciated and pampered by others (Its still amazing to feel important to the people you love the most and seeing them going out of their way to make you happy). But we need to realize that it shouldn't be only about this. Loving and appreciating ourselves is the first real step towards achieving happiness. 

You have a choice to BE happy, we all do. We choose to create happiness or we choose to blame others/other factors for our misery. I read this a million times and it always sounded a bit "Bumper sticker" material to me but it was only this year that I truly experienced it. Dont let anything dictate your happiness, you can be happy when you set your mind to it.. #Behappy

P.S.: If by any chance my husband is reading this, I am still totally looking forward to that trip-of-a-lifetime you promised me for my 30th, baby ;-)

..And with that,
We are back right where we started.

Nada ElMahdiComment