I’m an introvert. For me, a huge birthday party is synonymous with agonizing torture, not with celebrating.
I’ve never really liked my birthday. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the days of the year that I fear the most. I hate all the extra attention I receive, and the pressure to make a special day out of it (usually with a party) is insufferable.
When I was a teenager, I used to have long and exhaustive fights with my mother in the weeks leading up to my birthday. She always wanted me to celebrate it with a huge party filled with family and friends. But to me, a huge party was synonymous with agonizing torture, not with celebrating. Instead, I wanted to celebrate my birthday with something small, like going to the movies or the bowling alley with a small group of my closest friends.
No Birthday Party For Me, Thank You
More often than not, I used to win these fights and ended up doing what I wanted for my birthday. But all these arguments took a toll on my mental health and my self-esteem. Whenever I refused to have a party or make a big deal out of my birthday, people called me a party pooper, a killjoy, and a downer. I didn’t have the words to defend myself (I was still a kid), so I internalized all those insults and convinced myself that there was something “wrong” with me. It took me years to realize and accept that there was nothing wrong with me — I am an introvert.
I am now a proud introvert who can defend the reasons behind my actions and behaviors. In case you’re curious, my relationship with my mother has improved, but I still hate my birthday. And I believe that a lot of the reasons stem from the fact that I’m an introvert. Obviously, not all introverts hate their birthdays, but over the years I have noticed that a big portion of the online introvert community feels aversion or indifference toward their birthdays. So here are a few reasons I believe some introverts (like myself) don’t like their birthdays.
5 Reasons Some Introverts Hate Their Birthdays
1. They don’t like all the attention.
This one’s a no-brainer. Introverts don’t like being the center of attention, so to have an entire day dedicated to them can be quite uncomfortable… especially when they are put on display in front of a lot of people who are anxiously waiting to see their reactions while they open their gifts or while they make a wish and blow out the candles to the tune of Happy Birthday (but more on that later).
In my case, I especially hate all the attention I receive for something as trivial as turning one year older. I feel like I haven’t earned it and I don’t know what to do with it. Being the center of attention makes me anxious, uncomfortable, and insecure. I always try to avoid it and redirect that attention to something or someone else. But when it’s my birthday, that is an almost impossible thing to do because it’s “my day.”
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2. They don’t like parties (especially ones focused on them).
Birthdays and parties practically go hand in hand. When your birthday is coming up, everyone expects you to throw a big party to celebrate it. Introverts tend to dislike parties because we don’t like big crowds, loud noises, and shallow socializing. And this aversion to parties doesn’t change when the party is ours. If anything, it makes it worse.
When we throw a party, we usually end up feeling anxious and worrying if everyone is having fun. It’s our party, so we feel the pressure and the responsibility to be a good host and make sure that everyone’s having a good time. But in the process, we sometimes end up forgetting about having a good time ourselves.
And don’t even get me started on surprise parties. It’s undoubtedly a nice gesture for someone to throw you a surprise party because it shows that they care enough about you to go through all the trouble of organizing an event like this. But a surprise party is practically a living nightmare for an introvert. If there’s anything worse than having a party, it’s not having knowledge or control over your own party.
3. The pressure to make it a “special day” can be insufferable.
This is one of the things that bother me the most about my birthday: Sometimes I just want to do something small to celebrate it, like going to the movies or taking a long walk around the city. But the pressure from others to make it a “special day” can be downright unbearable. I get it, I was born on that day, but why does it have to be the most special day of my year? Why do I have to have the time of my life specifically on that day? That’s just setting myself up for failure because the expectations to have a good time are always way too high. (And we introverts don’t like pressure anyway!)
Plus, when your birthday is coming up, it seems like everyone has their own opinion about how you should celebrate it. Instead of asking you what you want to do, people always try to tell you exactly what you should do to celebrate it. Whether it’s a party or going dancing at a club, more often than not your birthday ends up being about what other people want to do instead of what you want. And God forbid you suggest you don’t want to do anything for your birthday — because people will look at you as if you’re crazy. They will try to convince you that you’re wrong and that you will regret it for the rest of your life if you don’t do something special on that day.
4. All the phone calls and “Happy Birthday!” messages are too much.
This one will come off as kind of ungrateful because it’s undoubtedly a nice thing to have people in your life who care enough about you to take the time to wish you a happy birthday — but to an introvert, it can also be a bit (or a lot) overwhelming.
Phone calls, in general, make us uncomfortable, but when the sole purpose of a phone call is to wish us a happy birthday, it’s even worse because all the attention is on us. And after the “Happy Birthday”s and “Thank you”s, the inevitable small talk follows. This makes us even more uncomfortable. And it doesn’t help that the people that usually call to wish you a happy birthday are relatives or friends you only talk to two or three times a year.
The same goes for the Facebook messages and texts you receive throughout that day. After the pleasantries and birthday greetings, you have to make small talk (again, in a different form) with all the people who wished you a happy birthday. This can be a bit too much for many, which is why I think a lot of introverts tend to hide their birthdays from their social media pages.
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
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5. The singing — does everyone really have to look (no, stare) at me?!
There are few situations that are worse for an introvert than being in front of a cake while their friends and family sing to them for what feels like a three-hour rendition of the Happy Birthday song. I never know what to do or where to look when that melody starts… and suddenly I have a cake in front of me and dozens of eyes on me.
There is no appropriate reaction for that situation. Do I smile the whole time? No, that would look fake and my cheeks would probably start to hurt after the third “Happy birthday to you…” Do I put on a poker face? No, that would probably come off as bratty and ungrateful. Do I sing with them? No, that would look stupid. Do I run away and hide in the bathroom? No, that would probably lead to a lot of questions. Whoever came up with this particular birthday tradition obviously hated introverts and wanted to see them suffer.
Just to Be Clear: I Don’t Hate All Birthdays, Just Mine
It should be noted that I don’t hate all birthdays, just mine. I love celebrating my friends and family’s birthdays. I love seeing them happy and buying them presents to celebrate one more year of their lives. But when the spotlight is on me and the birthday is mine, I hate it. I hate the pressure and the attention and the Happy Birthday song.
However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t enjoyed my birthdays before, because I have. But the birthdays I have enjoyed the most are the ones when I did what I wanted to do, like going to the movies or the bowling alley with my best friends, not when I succumbed to the pressure from others and ended up doing what they wanted me to do.
So if you have an introvert in your life and you want to truly make their birthday a special day, just ask them what they want to do and respect it, instead of assuming that everyone wants to celebrate their birthday by throwing a huge party and being the center of attention.
And if you’re an introvert who hates their birthday like I do, there are some ways that you can enjoy this “special day” — you just have to set realistic expectations, put your foot down, and do what you want to do, whether that is having dinner with your family, going dancing with your friends, or staying home with a good book and a Netflix marathon. I can’t promise you that you will start loving this day, but at least you’ll enjoy it. And the good thing about birthdays is they only happen once a year.