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Birthdays come once a year (unless you’re born on February 29th, I suppose) and that’s part of what makes them so special. The other reason they’re so important to so many people is that it’s the one day that’s just about you: you don’t have to be a parent, you don’t have to be married, and you don’t need to celebrate a joint cause the way you do with holidays. This day is just for you, to celebrate the day you were born and celebrate your life so far, regardless of any classic milestones you may or may not have achieved.

That’s why sometimes it can be tough to not have too high of expectations. Perhaps you’ve never had a surprise party planned for you but always wanted one; maybe you want to celebrate with a trip or big bash but none of your friends are interested; or maybe each year you want something specific as a gift and your family showers you with everything but the present of your desires.

It’s easy to feel or sound like a) a spoiled brat b) sorry for yourself when it comes to your birthday. Over the past couple of years, I decided to start celebrating my birthday – I mean really celebrating. Doing things I love, eating things I love, and making the day the perfect day for me. I love my family, partner, and friends, but no one will ever understand me the way I understand myself, and it’s not fair to put these high expectations on your loved ones when you can do things for yourself. You’re also born and die alone, so why not do something special for yourself as an act of self love?

Here are some recommendations based on things I’ve done for myself:

  1. Stress less

For me this means I take the day off work if my birthday lands on a weekday so I can sleep in a bit. It also means making sure I plan to complete chores like cleaning, laundry, etc. before or after my birthday so I can spend my special day as leisurely as I like.

  1. TREAT yourself

If you’re not a cake person, get yourself a baked good of choice – at bakeries and certain grocery stores, you can buy a single slice of pie, a cupcake, a brownie, a cookie, or anything else that suits your fancy. Hate birthday cake but love tiramisu? Make sure you have that on your birthday! Don’t wait, hoping your fiance or best friend will remember, just do it yourself! A slice that’s just for you, you don’t need to worry about getting a whole cake for everyone on your birthday.

  1. Present yourself with a gift

This is the perfect time to buy something you’ve had your eye on: usually one item that’s a little pricey, or perhaps a couple of more inexpensive things on your wishlist – this is a great opportunity to plan ahead so you don’t do any impulse shopping of things you don’t really want or need.

  1. Spend the day the way you like

Watch tv, read at a cafe, go see a movie, just make sure it’s something you love to do. I like to sleep in, go for a walk, and pick myself up a coffee, flowers, and bagels or croissants – all my favourite things!

  1. Remember the little things

Write yourself a birthday card or note, wake up to pastries, make a breakfast tray in bed, do a number things depending on your age (e.g., write 30 things you love about yourself if you’re turning 30). 

Just remember this is your life, and you can do or have anything you want. This is especially important in years where you’re having difficulties with family or friends, don’t have a partner, or are feeling down. And if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. 

Happy birthday!

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