There is something about birthdays as an expat which can be, well…a little weird. I’ve never expected surprise parties or a private jet to NYC. I’m happy with a card, a phone call, even a text. But even being fairly easy going about my birthday it can still be a strange day. The feeling is hard to explain, but I’ll try my best
Disconnection – People might forget, it’s a simple fact of out of sight out of mind sometimes, try not to take it personally. New friends might not even know it’s your birthday and it can be awkward to bring it up without seeming like you expect something in return.
Guilt – Its great to talk to people in your homeland on your birthday, but not being able to physically touch them can be hard. Since you are the one who left should it be your responsibility to go back?
Exhilaration – You can do anything, the choice is yours and you can spoil yourself rotten if you want to, really whats stopping you?
Peace – It’s just a day. No bigger a deal than you choose to make it.
The best thing you can do is Make A Plan
Any plan. Something that you can stick to, will keep you occupied and minimise any negative emotions (we all need a good mope now and again but on your birthday try to keep the moping to a minimum, honestly, you’ll feel better for it). This way you are reliant only on yourself to ensure that you enjoy your day, because sometimes others forget.
Want to stay in bed all day eating gummy bears and watching Netflix? Do it. I can recommend the new Haribo sour gummy bears, stock up so you don’t have to leave your house at all!
Want to party with 200 of your closest friends? Do it. Best to enlist some help for this one and start the planning early.
Want something in-between? My preference lies here, now is the perfect time to start a new tradition.
Give back – Miss your family pets? Go walk some dogs or love on some indoor animals at a local shelter. Help out at a soup kitchen.
Do something you’ve been waiting to do – A new cafe I’ve wanted to check out, make a reservation. A path you’ve been wanting to follow, take it.
Do something that you wouldn’t normally do – Bungee jumping, Kayaking, wine tasting, reading a newspaper in a café midweek. Do it.
Pamper yourself – You know that outfit you’ve been saving for a special occasion? Wear it. Read that book/visit that museum/crack open that bottle too!
Having a plan has made expat birthdays a lot more tolerable for me and the experience has made me a lot less forgetful of other peoples birthdays. Win win. And yes, it is my birthday soon, and yes, I have a plan 😉