On June 20th 1988, I was born, and for the next 12 years I never had to worry about planning a birthday party. My mom would take care of that. She would invite all of my friends, order the food and the cake, find the perfect place, buy a piñata that was twice my size (I’m Venezuelan, ok?) and then, pay for the entire thing. Sadly, all good things come to an end and as I started to grow up and be somewhat independent, I started to rely more on the people close to me to make my day special. We only get one day a year, whether you admit it or not, we all like to feel special on that day and either we like it or not, our happiness depends on others’ attention. I had the bad luck of having my birthday pretty close to father’s day so every 6-7 years my day was taken by a much bigger celebration. To the point that my brother would wake me up at 7am saying “wake up, wake up, it’s father’s day, let’s prepare breakfast for dad!” Shut up Daniel, it’s my birthday!
I’m a natural giver and detail-oriented person. I like to celebrate birthdays and all special occasions - valentines, anniversaries, thanksgiving, 4th of July, passover, you name it. They are all amazing because they make our lives less monotonous. But the fact that we expect so much from others, mainly on our birthday is what affects me the most. The more I expect the more I get disappointed, and who the hell wants to face disappointment on their special day? Well, not me.
In order to avoid disappointment I’ve gone to extremes. As much as I like to celebrate special occasions, my husband kinda, sorta hates it. Mainly because I put so much pressure on him that he can’t stand it. I schedule reminders on his phone months in advance to buy me a present, write me a nice letter, make reservations, buy a cake, etc. I become a control freak in order to avoid disappointment on my day. But the truth is that every time I try to control the situation and he succumbs to my demands, I don’t feel as good as I thought I would afterwards. I feel like the entire situation was forced and unnatural. But if I don’t do it, I have the risk of not having a proper birthday celebration. I honestly don’t know what’s worse.
So, the other day while I was doing my spinning class at Pelotón, I experienced pure joy for a second. Maybe it was the music, the vibes, the fact that I’m taking care of my body. Whatever it was, it got me thinking “If I can enjoy time by myself like I’m enjoying this moment, I should spend my birthday by myself because if I can’t make myself happy, then who can?” That day, I arrived home and I told my husband about my plan. I already had a written list of everything I wanted to do, and even an entire schedule around it. He was delighted with the idea. Pressure is off gentlemen. And I must admit I was pretty excited too!
So this is how my day went:
5:00am – Brooklyn Bridge Sunrise
After facing 100 fears last year for my project 100 Days Without Fear, I realized how amazing it is to step outside of your comfort zone to create memorable experiences. Starting off my birthday watching the sunrise from the Brooklyn Bridge got me feeling energized, positive and in love with life.
7:00am – Yoga at Dumbo
Since I was in Dumbo already, I decided to stay for a free yoga class at the Pier 6. Even though I’m terrible at yoga, the weather was so perfect and the environment so peaceful that I enjoyed every second of it.
9:00am – Water Taxi
By this point I was starving, so I decided to head back to the city on the water taxi to enjoy the view and the breeze; one of my favorite things to do in summer.
11:00am – Brunch at Ladurée
After a nice shower I went for a well-deserved brunch at Ladurée in Soho, a place I’ve always wanted to go. They have a beautiful garden and deliciously looking food. I actually enjoyed my own company more than I thought I would. I challenged myself to put my cell phone away to not have any distractions.
12:00pm – Shopping at Soho
Since I was already in Soho, I decided to go shopping! I went to my favorite stores: Madewell, COS, Zara and TOPSHOP. I accidentally spent more than I should have, but you know, it’s my birthday so I wanted my cake and eat it too!
3:00pm – Chill at The Highline
I checked how many steps I had given since I woke up and I was at 20,000 steps already! So I decided to chill for a little bit at The Highline. I stayed there for an hour just relaxing, watching people go by and admire the city I like to call home.
5:00pm – Early Dinner at Zenkichi
25,000 steps later I arrived home and my husband surprised me with a romantic dinner reservation in Williamsburg. Zenkichi is an authentic and beautiful asian restaurant where you sit in a private booth with a curtain and you can wall the waitresses with the push of a button. The food was delicious and the dessert to die for: black sesame pudding.
8:30pm – POD39 Rooftop
We picked up my surprise birthday cake from Momofuku and headed back to the city to meet with some of my friends at the rooftop of the POD39 hotel. The sunset was just perfect and we all had such an amazing time (after the bouncer allowed all of my friends to get in).
12:00am – Sleep!
At this point, the only thing I was looking forward to was my bed, and I got it!
This was one of the best birthdays I’ve had in my life, at least in the post-era of my big a#$ piñatas that I still miss. Now that I think about it I’ll may get a piñata for next year!
I proved to myself that we DO NOT need anybody else in order to have a special day; what a blessing that is, right? We can be the owners of our own happiness if we regain that power instead of giving it to the ones who surround us. The less we expect from others the happier we will be when they prove us wrong. I learned that the less pressure I put on my husband, the more likely he will feel like planning something special for me on my day. If I can make every birthday like this one, I’ll be forever happy.