Friday, 26 November 2010

Birthdays are not always a piece of cake

Birthdays. Anniversaries. Christmas. Every year, they come around, and every year, they fill us with expectation. Excitement. Hope. Panic. Fear. Dread, even. Not necessarily in that order, but each of these emotions is sure to creep into our consciousness, despite our best attempts to drink ourselves into oblivion and numb the pain by eating our way through the huge box of chocolates our aunty sent us.

First there is the expectation. You WILL have a good time. And everyone else who shares your birthday celebration with you must have a good time too. No pressure. This Saturday was no exception. A matter of days after the first birthday where I felt compelled to lie about my age, I had arranged a night out in Angel for curry, beer and music. A relatively quiet affair, deliberately designed to be as little hassle as possible for me. It was easier enough to organise but there is still that niggling need to have a really good time. And not just yourself. Everyone else has to have a wonderful evening too. Otherwise you are a social failure.

Almost as devastating as flat conversation over your Korma is a poor turnout. Silently dreading the last minute ‘can’t make it’ text messages that make you feel like a Billy no-mates you sit in the middle of a crowded restaurant with your mum and the office geek. Then, just when you were starting to relax, there is always the fear that your chums from work will irritate your uni mates, your boyfriend will say something totally un-PC to your socialist vegetarian friend and your best mate will end up telling your boss how much you hate them before throwing up all over their Prada handbag. Then someone will get food poisoning. Another person will hate the music in the pub. And your sister from the sticks will get mugged outside whilst having a fag. My God, my hand is trembling at the thought of it as I shove another chunk of birthday cake into my mouth.

Then there’s the morning after. You have a hangover. You’re a year older. You feel pretty crappy. The fact that your chum from Manchester has just bought a new house, your old roommate from uni has just had their first novel published and everyone else has a baby/cat/Mini convertible doesn’t help. You start to question yourself. Where has the last year gone? What exactly have I achieved? Why haven’t I got where I want to be yet? When am I actually going to grow up and get my act together? WHERE IS MY LIFE GOING?

Today is the morning after the night before. Amazingly, I have emerged relatively unscathed. Admittedly it was a relatively tame night, but everyone seemed to have a good time. It did take us half an hour to sort out the bill and the pub was a bit noisy and crowded for some people, but only one person didn’t show up (flu is an acceptable excuse) and no-body got arrested- despite some attempts from the boys to con a free beer out of our waiter.

As for my self analysis? Well, the last year hasn’t been too bad. No, I don’t like my job and am still devoid of any real status symbol (unless my new fandangled digital camera counts – thank you Mum, Dad and Him Indoors), but I have three quarters of a novel and a new qualification under my belt, have nearly paid off my student loan and managed to save almost enough money to pay for a deposit on that oh-so desirable first flat. And, you know what? I have survived another year in this crazy world. And that is something worth drinking to. Read more by Shelly.