Social Question

longgone's avatar

Why do I feel obligated to have a party for my birthday?

Asked by longgone (17912points) July 23rd, 2015

It’s my birthday next month, and – like every year – I feel as if I have to throw a party. I hate parties. They exhaust me in general, and even more so if I’m hosting. I can’t help but fret about whether everyone is having enough fun. I worry about different groups of friends mixing, wondering whether any of them feel as socially awkward as I do when I’m meeting lots of new people at once.

Do you ever feel that kind of pressure? There is no-one urging me to celebrate, so I am not sure where the feeling comes from.

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24 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Why do you have to throw a party? No one likes going to a party someone throws for themselves, because then thay feel obligated.

If your friends want to celebrate your birthday, let them, but don’t throw a party for yourself.

snowberry's avatar

Don’t throw one, and design a day where “party” won’t be part of the conversation. Take a day or two off at the time you’d normally have your party. Go somewhere out of town or stay with a friend (make sure you don’t tell them your birthday either)!, and just have some fun.

As for why? I don’t know, but you don’t have to live in that world anymore if you don’t want to.

DoNotKnow's avatar

I can certainly relate to throwing a party and all of the anticipated awkwardness and fatigure that will come, although I have never thrown my own birthday party. Maybe you can separate the two.

How do you feel about throwing parties in general? Do you feel obligated in some way? Do you enjoy them?

How do you feel about your birthday? How would you feel if you were not doing anything on that day?

Maybe you really do want to do something to recognize your trip around the sun, but are expressing this in the form of a party, which you may not particularly like. If so, maybe getting together with one or two good friends and hitting your favorite restaurant would be sufficient?

Pachy's avatar

I think the guilt comes from the pressure society has put on us about birthdays… but in my view it’s a waste of guilt and certainly a waste of time to fret about it. I don’t know how old you are but what I’ve discovered is, the older you get the less important celebrating your birthday seems—except in your own head. You don’t want to throw a party, don’t… just do something a little nice for yourself to mark another year of life.

longgone's avatar

Yep. It’s the party thing that bothers me. I go to parties because I get invited. I enjoy only very little of the experience, and I’m completely beat when I get home.

It’s not even like I want to ignore my birthday. I like family birthday dinners, a few friends over for brunch, that kind of thing. Still, every year, I feel like I have to invite pretty much all the people I spend time with, mix them up, and serve cake.

DoNotKnow's avatar

I remember the first birthday I didn’t really recognize with others. I was sitting in my dorm room in college, drinking from a cheap bottle of merlot, playing guitar, and feeling quite sorry for myself. But then I realized that what I was really feeling wasn’t self-pity. I didn’t really want to celebrate the arbitrary date. I was feeling a bit of anticipatory embarrassment at the prospect of responding to “What did you do for your birthday?” with “Hung out in my room and drank way too much wine.” When I realized this, I immediately felt better about the whole thing. I realized that what I really wanted to do was exactly what I was doing. I ended up writing and recording a few songs. (But I have my loner, antisocial tendencies.)

Here2_4's avatar

Instead of answering your question, I will offer this suggestion. Don’t.
Liberate yourself. Take a spa day. Go for a long bike ride. Go fishing. Do something completely unrelated to throwing a party.
If it doesn’t work out, then next year you will know you don’t feel obligated, you feel driven. Your inner force just wants it.

Coloma's avatar

I think you need to realize that this is a self imposed sense of obligation, and you have no obligation to do anything you don’t want to do, except pay your taxes. haha
I have never thrown a birthday party for myself, what has given you the idea you have to do this?

longgone's avatar

@DoNotKnow You keep describing me, to a t. Slightly scary! Yes, I definitely try to fit in with my party-loving friends. Every time they invite me to go clubbing (which is something I dislike much more strongly than parties), I want to want to say yes, just to fit in. Which is silly. They are my friends for a reason, and I love that I can be honest and simply say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Another thing that I think about is the idea of comfort zones…parties are outside my comfort zone, and part of me thinks that pressuring myself there may make me “grow” in some way. I’m not sure I even believe in that, but it’s something people keep giving me the same advice on.

@Here2_4, @Pachy and @snowberry Thanks to all who are encouraging me to do what I want. I need to hear that so I will actually follow through!

@zenvelo and @Coloma Funny, I think we just stumbled upon a cultural difference. I’m not sure whether it’s just my social circle, but planning your own birthday party is the norm around here. Parents throw parties for their underage kids, of course, and some people are into surprise parties…but from what I can tell, most parties are hosted by the birthday girl/boy. Interesting.

filmfann's avatar

I have embraced self-hatred, so I don’t believe I deserve a birthday party. I never celebrate birthdays, which I find self obsessive.

bossob's avatar

Have you thought about how you would enjoy spending your birthday? Having an option or two or three to choose from, other than the same ol’ same ol’, will help you decide what your priorities are.

You may never know unless you break the pattern: some of your friends might be thinking the same way about parties as you do.

ucme's avatar

You appear restrained by social constraints.

Here2_4's avatar

Your pic looks like a B&W cameo when I am standing across the room. It looks like a woman’s face, hair piled high, shadow down the right side of her face. The lifted leg is where her hair sweeps back from her forehead. Funny.
@filmfann , you deserve to celebrate your birthday however you want also, even if it means you prefer to not to.

ucme's avatar

Because that wasn’t weird

JLeslie's avatar

I never feel obligated to have a party for my birthday. My birthday is January 3rd! Halloween, Thanksgiving (big holiday celebrated in America) Chanukah, Christmas, New Years, everyone is tired of holidays and parties by the time my birthday rolls around, including me!

I do birthday month and do fun stuff over the entire month. A little freer than usual with money, and go out for a nice dinner or two. I start planning a vacation weekend, even if it doesn’t actually get scheduled into January. I don’t worry about celebrating on my birthday.

JLeslie's avatar

Isn’t August a big vacation month in your country? What about a long weekend with a girlfriend? Go to Spain maybe? Isn’t it inexpensive there now? Or, Italy! Or, look at last minute cruises if you aren’t very far from the water. They usually are a bargain last minute. I can take a 4 day cruise for $400US in the summer. Less expensive other times of the year.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I have never throw a birthday party. My birthday party is thrown by anyone who is inerested. If no one is interested, I don’t care. All I get for my birthday are congratulation from friends and occasional presents and that’s it. And I’m still alive and smiling.

Think about it: the party is there for your amusement. If it doesn’t entertain you why do you have to do it? Why stress yourself while you’re supposed to have fun?

ibstubro's avatar

I suspect that this is an ‘angst’ you go through every year, and the previous year’s memories always cancel out the dread?

Relax and embrace it.

Have theme. You’re the Queen. Ensconce yourself in the dining room, or another room that has limited visibility of the rest of the house. Don’t worry about your ‘minions’.

snowberry's avatar

I don’t do crowds well because I can’t understand anything when there’s music going and everyone’s talking. I clam up and paste on a smile and wait through it. It’s like a symphony of sound for me.

I’m also not a fan of birthday parties especially if there are a ton of presents and a houseful of people. A few is fine, and a few people along with it works as well.

longgone's avatar

I’ve abandoned my party plans and will be doing a few small things to celebrate – brunch with one group of friends, a birthday outing with another…

Thanks, all! Feeling much better about this now.

longgone's avatar

@JLeslie No, traveling is pretty expensive in August. Love your idea of spreading a birthday out a little, though!

ibstubro's avatar

Well, then, Happy Birthday, @longgone!

Mimishu1995's avatar

@longgone Happy birthday and enjoy yourself :)

longgone's avatar

Thanks :]

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