A Quarantined Birthday


Coronavirus and social distancing have ruined a lot of things for a lot of people. Countless seniors never got to experience a normal graduation, virtually all concerts have been cancelled, and summer trips are needing to be rescheduled. But one thing coronavirus has especially mixed around for me is my birthday, which is May 2. I’m turning 17 this year, and it feels really weird to not only be nearly an adult, but to also be experiencing a birthday when everything is shut down. So, here are just a few major things that have changed about my birthday this year, since it’s during the era of social distancing.

1. All of my birthday celebration is restricted to my house.
This one’s really obvious, but when you think about it, it’s kinda frustrating. Normally for my birthday, I would at least go out to dinner with my family, or spend time with my friends, but now, I’ll be spending my birthday dinner in the same dining room that I eat all my normal meals in. Instead of going out to my favorite restaurant to eat, we’ll be ordering takeout instead (support your local businesses!). Normally it doesn’t sound so bad to spend your birthday at home with just family, but when you’ve been restricted to home for the past month or so, it’s a little rough. Honestly, it’s a really privileged thing to complain about – there are so many people out there who can’t afford to do ​anything​ for their birthday. I hate that it took a quarantine birthday for me to realize this, but hey, at least I’ll know never to take my regular birthdays for granted.

2. I won’t be able to spend time with friends.
Okay this is another obvious one, but I really love spending time with my friends, and not being able to spend time with them when I know we all want to is upsetting. What’s mainly upset me is that my friend and I were supposed to go to California to see BTS (yes, the K-pop group) at the Rosebowl. It was going to be her first time seeing them live, our first time on a road trip together, and we were going to stay at my grandparents’ house in LA. I think this is one of the birthdays I looked forward to the most out of any of them, honestly. I remember buying our concert tickets and us getting ready to plan exactly what we were going to wear, what merchandise we wanted to buy, and just the excitement of going to see one of our favorite artists. It’s alright though, since it was postponed, so I’ll just pretend like it’s my birthday whenever the real concert comes.

3. Celebrating a birthday at school can actually be kind of fun.
I know my birthday doesn’t land on a school day this year, but I was hoping that it would be celebrated on the Friday before instead. Birthdays at school can either be like heaven or hell – you like the birthday attention, or you don’t. Last year was completely in between for me, since I felt really loved and appreciated by my friends, but at the same time, I had $45 worth of balloons tied to my backpack. Being pretty small, I literally looked like I was about to fly away if a gust of wind came by. Throughout the day people stared at the balloons, my teachers were annoyed by them, and my friends kept laughing at how ridiculous I looked. But in a way, I kind of wanted that again this year. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t seen people in the past month, but a part of me wishes I could have celebrated a part of my birthday like that again, even if it was a day early.

4. Gift Expectations
Every year when it comes to gifts, I don’t really care for anything much, to be honest. I will be more than happy with just a thoughtful card, some candy, and a hug, honestly. Gift-giving has never been, is not, and might never be my love language (except for when it comes to the birthday balloons. I really like them for some reason). I’m more of a quality time kind of person. So, this year, with the pandemic that we’re going through, I really don’t expect much from friends, and I hope they understand that, and that they just send me a cute birthday message or something. Now, more than ever, they have an excuse to not give me anything, and I’m honestly grateful for it, because I hate getting gifts. Again, this is an extremely privileged point of view, but I’m kind of hoping that I don’t get much from friends (I say I’m hoping, because as I’m writing this, my birthday is still a day away). I’d rather they take that money and donate it, especially given the state of many hospitals.
All in all, COVID-19 has completely mixed up all of our expectations for this year. Nearly everything was flipped upside down, and it’s weird times we’re going through. Even if my birthday isn’t exactly how I pictured it, I’m still fortunate enough for the things I listed to be unusual, and not just common birthday experiences. I’m happy that every year I’m able to go out with friends, eat at my favorite places, get spoiled with balloons, that my friends are always excited for me and give me thoughtful gifts. The main thing I’m disappointed about is the BTS concert, but that’s okay, there will always be next time. Hopefully this’ll all be resolved sooner rather than later, and before we know it, we’ll be back to celebrating everything with our friends and family.