Ever since I can remember, I have loved my birthday. As children, my brother and I could choose whatever activity we wanted to do for our day, then we would have large backyard birthday parties that would go on for the entire weekend. Naturally, I caught on to the fact that the occasion was about me — and I ran with it.
When I turned three, I spent my birthday party running around in nothing but a tutu and a crown. When I turned four, I told a friend of my parents that had stopped by on the day of my party—by coincidence—to leave because he hadn’t brought me a gift. Each year I would order extravagant cakes, which my amazing mother would somehow manage to produce, with the utmost love. My birthday was my favorite day of the year.
As I grew up, I grew out of crowns, tutus, and extravagant cakes, but never lost my love for celebrating my birthday. But as is the case in life, as we grow up we gain more responsibilities and with them more stress and less time. So as an adult my birthday became less a day “all about me” and more the only day that I felt okay giving myself permission to say “no” to anything that didn’t make me happy.
When I started working as a teenager I requested off on my birthday, not wanting to give up my “me” day—a new tradition, that stuck with me thereafter. When I became a corporate manager, the pressure of putting my job above all became a reality. There wasn’t a single person I knew at the company I worked for that had requested off on their birthday. In fact, I didn’t know anyone who didn’t just go to work on their birthday if it fell on a workday, where I worked or elsewhere.
I weighed my options and felt the pressure to be “responsible” like everyone else; to work on my birthday despite any desire to have my one “me” day, and then I made a very important decision—I stuck to my intentions and refused to work on my birthday.
I realized that there were 364 days in the year where I could be everything to everyone, to fulfill request, and do favors, and tend to the needs of everyone around me… but this day, I could say “no” and let people dote on me for a change. It was the best gift that I could give myself each year. And so I continued my tradition, a tradition that I will never give up.
For all that we do for others in our daily routines, whether it’s as mothers, grandmothers, friends, wives, or employees, it’s also important to do things for ourselves. So make a point to give yourself whatever it is that you need—that extra couple of hours to sleep, a mental health day, girls’ night out, trip to the spa, or your birthday all about you—because we all deserve a “me” day once in a while.
By Leilani Rose
Leilani is a writer and editor based out of the New York City area. She has always had a love for travel, which was deepened by spontaneous adventures and culturally immersed years living abroad. When not writing, she enjoys traveling to new places and trying new food with her husband, yoga, and deciding which country to visit next. She believes that “yes” often leads to great adventures.