Don’t Plan All of the Details for Your Birthday

This week was my birthday.

I don’t say it for the views or the “happy birthday” messages. I want to be somewhat modest about my birthday on my blog, but this has been on my heart to write about for a while now.

This post was written on my birthday and I enjoy that it is a time capsule for that day, so I kept it that way! I love writing about moments in time and being able to read them the same way someone sees a picture or a movie. 

Oh, and a note to anyone who has (anonymously) appeared in this post today: I kept you anonymous for a reason. I don’t want anyone to hassle you about things in the past! Just know that if it was a less than exemplary moment from back then, I have no ill feelings towards you or any situation that is being recanted. I wanted to share this post with everyone so that you all know that you are not alone in the quest for the best birthday ever (and then sometimes falling short).

So with all that cleared up, let’s get started!

So today is my birthday.

At first, I wasn’t thrilled about it. It was shaping up to be a dud of a birthday, just like the last two. I think, as these birthdays progressed and got more and more sucky, the higher my expectations were for the next birthday.

All I remember is thinking, next year, it has to be better. And for a few years, this wasn’t the case.

When I turned 20, my day started off pretty good.

My family and I went to my favorite breakfast joint this side of the Connecticut River. I got my favorite breakfast and we all had fun hanging out together. We went to the mall after breakfast shenanigans and got my baby blue Chucks, which is one of my favorite pairs of shoes to this day.

But after that, I didn’t have anything happening. I figured things would work themselves out and I would find something to do. But one of our cats was looking sick that day and my mother was debating on taking her to the emergency vet. It was a Saturday, so we couldn’t take her to the normal vet.

That left me alone for until that night for food and presents. Good job, Gem! You’re planning skills are impeccable. 😐 

Here is an old picture of me being a dope on my 20th birthday.

I went down to the dam near my house, and I wrote. I wrote just as I am doing now, except it was in a notebook instead of a computer. There were two pieces written: one about my day, and the other a short story. It was a beautiful day, so I took some pictures too. It was a relaxing afternoon, but wildly uneventful.

The next year was going to be my 21st, and I made a point to make plans.

I had to have plans. After all, it was my 21st! This is basically the last landmark birthday that I’ll get ’til I’m 30, and that’s usually not a landmark birthday that people are looking forward to.

I was going to do everything that I could to make it a perfect day. My big plan was to spend it with my best friend at the time. We were going to go to my favorite breakfast joint this side of the Connecticut River and just do fun stuff. My expectations were sky high for my 21st.

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and I over-planned.

Him and I had gotten into a fight the night before. It was the kind of fight where I didn’t know if our friendship was going to recover from it.

So instead of going out to breakfast, I probably cried for three hours. My plans were killed on my 21st birthday. I had no back up, no plan B.

And of course, everyone was wondering why I wasn’t hanging out with him! I had to explain myself to everyone in my house, give them the short version of the junk that had transpired the night before. No bueno.

My big brother got a hold of me on the phone, and he invited me to meet him at Starbucks. I obliged, but I was bummed for obvious reasons. I should have been having eggs over-easy on a pile of hash browns… But I’ll settle for Starbucks and a pastry of some sort.

We talked about my dilemma, and we talked about his then girlfriend. (They got married later that year!)

I made a chocolate decadence covered in ganache. It looks small, but it was seriously dense!

Between coffee and cake, my birthday last year was a bit of a blur. I’ll add to this if I wrote about it somewhere, but other than that, that’s all I can say about it until that night.

Update: I didn’t write about it, but I do remember getting facials with my sister! It was really nice to just let someone else do a deep clean in my pores.

We opened up presents, ate cake, the whole nine yards. I’d say that was the best part of that day. I didn’t have to think about anything that occurred the night before; all I had to do was eat and enjoy the company of my family.

Here’s me with my brother and sister 🙂

My sister took me out for my first drink, Which was an Angry Orchard. She ordered for me.

And by the way, I didn’t drink before my 21st.

Honest! My parent’s house has always been a dry house. They stopped drinking before I was born, and my friends in high school didn’t drink. I didn’t have too much in the way of friends in college either, so you can’t be tempted by what’s not there, right? *pained laughter*

And #notsponsored, but I really like Angry Orchard. I’m a sucker for hard cider. What was not tasty, however, was when the bartender put in an apple pie shot in it… bleh.

The bartender also tried to give us free shots. I had to pass up on them because I didn’t know how my body was going to react to 3 drinks worth of alcohol on the day before my first day of a new job. In hindsight, I probably would have been fine. But I did not want to come in hungover on my first day of work!

And I went home. That was it.

I hate telling my 21st birthday story, especially since everyone is expecting me to not tell one. Apparently, everyone else blacked out during their 21st and don’t have a story to tell.

In all honesty, I wish I had blacked out on my 21st.

So here we are, my 22nd birthday. I have since lost that friend from my 21st. I mean, he didn’t die. We’ve just parted ways for now. And you would think that that I would be super popular, with my dashing good looks and my way with words.

*Flips hair*

But I’ve had my share of not-so-bueno friendships, so I’m very careful with the people I do hang out with. We’ve got to vibe, y’know? It’s important that we think on at least a similar wavelength.

Anyway, since I’m so selective, this is me saying I don’t have a whole lot of friends. And that’s okay! I’ll get the people I’m supposed to get in my life. I’ve spent enough time by myself to know I’ll be okay on my own.

And as fate would have it, I had met a girl less than a week prior to my birthday that I vibed really well with. I didn’t want our first legit hangout be on  my birthday. That just seemed kinda off. And you know who you are! I probably should have just asked…


My sister was working that morning, and my parents had an obligation. Once I realized I was going to be by myself again, I flipped my lid. I didn’t want this to happen again.

“Why don’t we just go to breakfast really early in the morning?” My mother said, jokingly.

“That’s not a bad idea, actually.”  I said.

So that’s what we did. We woke up at 5:30 AM to get Denny’s, and I was surprisingly not tired at all. That was definitely a memory I will cherish.

I went to my favorite coffee shop in a neighboring town, where I am at now. The cafe mocha drinks here are delicious! I am writing by the big storefront window like I wanted to. Though, in my ideal setting, it was sunny out. But being an April baby, you come to expect your birthdays with rain. Sunny birthdays are a rare treat!

Having a cafe mocha and a chocolate croissant at my favorite coffee shop, waiting to snag the window seat! 🙂

Instead of the sun beating down on my face, I got to hear the rain drip and see the people on the street ducking for cover. I loved it.

I got some coffee to take home with me too! You all know how much I love beverages, alcohol or no.

The lady at the counter was so patient with me too. Here I am on cloud nine, sniffing all the coffees until I find the one(s) I’m taking home, and I’m holding up the line! They can go ahead of me. I’m in no rush. I’m just like a kid in a candy shop.

I shopped for clothes too.

Goodwill and other second-hand shops are my gig. I mean, I can afford clothes. It’s just at this point in my life, I prefer hunting through thrift and consignment shops. It’s better on my wallet and better on the environment too! I could probably write a whole post in defense of thrift and second-hand clothes shopping, but I will save that post for later.

I spent 2 hours in Goodwill and only walked out with a few items, and that’s okay. It’s about the hunt for me! I find it almost cathartic to just rummage through these clothes given a second chance.

I wasn’t even expecting to spend that much time in Goodwill. But allowing the day to go as it will, I let it happen. 

My last stop was to Whole Foods and to get a lemon yogurt, because this is how I treat myself. I like lemon yogurt, okay?? Don’t judge me!

Anyway, my fun in the… erm, rain was done for the day. It was time to get home, get a cake, and make dinner. My brother, his wife, and their son even made it over for birthday festivities.

And yes, I helped make my birthday dinner. Sometimes, you can’t keep me out of the kitchen!

We ate dinner, ate cake, and opened presents. Before I knew it, family was walking out the door.

Daniel was helping me open presents!

And then, a little miracle happened.

As we were cleaning up (or rather they!) I saw I had a missed call from my goddaughter’s mother’s phone. Were they calling to wish me a happy birthday?

I called back. There was a silence after the phone was picked up.

“Talk to her,” I can hear in the background.

“Hi Ellie!” It was Rem, my goddaughter. My heart leaped. This is the first conversation I have ever had with my goddaughter on the phone.

“Hello! Is this Miss Remy?”

“Yeah. I wanted to wish you a happy birthday!”

“Thank you!” There was a beat. I’m not used to talking to kids on the phone, so I resorted to talking about her and school for a while. I feel like I am slowly turning into that adult that asked about school even when you didn’t like talking about it.

“Do you want to talk to Will?”

“Sure!” I could hear the phone shuffle.

“Hi Ellie!”

“Hellooo meeester Weeeeel!” I could hear him giggling on the other side of the call.

“Happy birthday!” He’s such a goofball. I can hear it in his voice.

“Thank you so much!”

“Ask her how old she is now,” I could hear Rem in the background.

“How old are you?”

“I’m 22 this year!”

“Wooooow….” He sounded amazed, like 22 was such a far distance. I mean, that’s still 18 years away for him. It probably seems like a lifetime away.

When it was time to wind down, they handed the phone back to their mother.

“Happy birthday!” She said to me.

“Thank you!” I smiled. “That was just the sweetest. It made my day.”

“Yeah, Rem didn’t stop talking about it between yesterday and today. I’m pretty sure her first words out of her mouth this morning were, ‘it’s Ellie’s birthday today!’”

And it touched me so much, I was ready to cry. She not only remembered my birthday, but she was excited for it. And at 7, that’s probably the best present from her I could ever ask for.

Here’s a pic of me with most of our birthday selfie props.

At the end of it all, I consider today to be a success.

I look at my Facebook wall, and I see that less people than usual wrote on my wall for my birthday. This could very well be the dwindling population of people my age on the site, but I saw something different this year.

There were people like my goddaughter, who called me. There were people who texted me, even people who got a hold of me on Messenger. That means (at least to me) that there were more people who wanted a personal connection with me and that feels really super special.

I also saw all the people around the dinner table and felt the love. I didn’t know if my brother and his family were going to make it that night, but they did. They were all there.

I didn’t get it completely right this year, because I stressed about it for a week.

Though I knew better, I still wanted my birthday to not be like the others. I was trying so hard to make it different.

I just wanted a good birthday, but somewhere in my birthday timeline, I was able to take a step back. My expectations needed to be set much lower, like any-other-day lower. It couldn’t get much worse than last year, right? If I plan to be by myself for part of my birthday and do the things that I want to do, things aren’t so bad. I’ve come to expect rain on my April birthday so when the sun shines, it’s a nice treat.

Maybe I have set my standards too low. But in my opinion, if I expect too much out of my birthday, I’m setting up myself for failure.

This year, I focused on what made me happy. I set the standard to just not be sad. And strangely enough, that made it a good birthday indeed.

So learn from me, kids! Don’t be so stressed out about your birthday being the perfect day. Let it be a day where you, your family, and your friends celebrate you.

Humans have the blessing and the curse of a vision of the future. Sure, it gets us to plan, but our expectations have a way with not lining up with reality. We just have to learn that it is okay when things don’t go exactly to plan! Easier said than done, amirite?

Do you have a birthday story to share? let me know in the comments down below!

Cheers dears!


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