Birthday Party Blues

31 Aug

As I’ve written before, I don’t invite people out to do things. The one time I do is for my birthday. I love birthdays so much that I’m willing to overcome my introversion and awkwardness to celebrate for one day every year. I had thrown myself an annual birthday party in Oakland for like 10 years, in various backyards, parks, and bars. I had a routine for it and people came to expect it and I was never (okay, only a little) worried that no one would show up.

When my partner and I started dating, I even had a few Orange County birthday parties, mostly with family and a few close friends at the beach, a neighborhood park, and a bar.

This year, I decided to challenge myself and have my birthday at a restaurant in Los Angeles and invite people I didn’t know very well. This was very anxiety-producing because I didn’t think anyone would come. I have to make it very easy for people, I thought to myself.

Location was first. It had to be near my work in a part of LA that people are familiar with, near the metro, and with free parking. I went with Chaya because they’re ROC-approved. Bonus: all night happy hour.

Timing. I picked a Monday night in the hope that people wouldn’t already have other plans. Conveniently timed for a casual happy hour.

Invitation. I wasn’t sure people I didn’t know well would come on their own volition, so I texted my sister for advice: “is it pitiful or is it persuasive for me to say in the invite that I don’t know many people here?” Her response: “that’s weird”. I left it out.

So the day of, I’m at work and super nervous no one will show. But as the day goes by, I find out that 9 of my co-workers are coming, which is a wonderful surprise. And when we arrive straight from work, I find 3 other people already there. And by the end of the night around 25 people have shown up.

I’m totally abashed to have been so anxious. And totally delighted to have spent my birthday with so many lovely people.

Later that night, my partner gave me an “I told you so” gentle scolding to stop complaining that I don’t have any friends and that I can make friends here if I actually try. It wasn’t the first time he said that to me, but I think it was the first time I actually believed it. I guess there are some lessons you learned at 5 years old that you have to re-learn at 35.

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