My birthday is mine – why I don't feel like celebrating

Just as some people gather every year under grandma Helgas Tannenbaum in unity, on a day in January every year a crowd of people attacks my apartment and leaves chaos when it leaves. Nice people, it must be said, otherwise I wouldn't see them as my friends. However, they have a problem: They have got completely used to the fact that I celebrate my birthday with them year after year. This constellation of friends has existed for at least ten years. The problem: This time I don't feel like doing it – and almost started World War III. Kim Jong-un can still learn from me.

If someone wants to ask here now why I want to break with this nice tradition, which I'm not entirely innocent of: I don't know. I always enjoyed celebrating birthdays with friends, but this year the thought of partying and catering is kind of causing a rash on me. Maybe because there is neither a schnapps number nor a milestone birthday. Maybe also because I just don't feel like serving other people on my birthday and washing mountains of dishes for an hour the next day because I don't have a dishwasher. But either way: That shouldn't be a problem, I thought, after all, my friends alone have missed their birthday one or the other time – which I find absolutely okay myself.

"How are you not celebrating?"

I was teached a lesson. The first friend, whom I shared my decision with a month earlier, stared at me with wide eyes and asked me indignantly if I was serious. That is not possible, after all, I would have always celebrated. Just as you can't change a workflow, simply because you've always done it that way (doesn't everyone know a colleague?).

A little irritated by the surprisingly violent reaction, I explained that I just wasn't after partying. Instead, I decided to bake my own birthday cake for the first time this year and enjoy it with my family. I think the cake is enough birthday effort – unfortunately my girlfriend didn't want to see it that way. We discussed it for quite a while and in the end I broke off the topic exasperated.

Tear drama – but not from the birthday child

But she wasn't the only one that I seem to have completely thrown off the rails with my decision. Shortly after Christmas I got a voice message from another friend who was almost sobbing. She had been given a ticket for a show to the festival, which should now be on my birthday weekend. Short version: She would be terribly sorry, she felt completely torn and now did not know what to do. When I replied that I shouldn't celebrate anyway and that she should enjoy the show, she almost forgot to keep sobbing with irritation.

I must be sick

And one last case: my oldest friend asked what would happen next, about a week before my birthday. When I replied, she wrote me a private message and asked if everything was okay with me. Which was certainly meant nicely, but above all it finally showed me how right it is to let tradition simply be tradition.

Because I am neither sick nor mentally disgraced or shortly before a depression. I just find it corrosive to take things for granted that are beautiful but also do work for others. And because I just want to decide on my birthday how to spend it. That is why I stick to my decision and this year I will concentrate entirely on my first cake. After that, I will probably still be able to wash dishes for an hour – but at least I will be damn proud of myself.