I’m self-employed and my job takes me out of town a lot. Three years ago, I worked away from home during my birthday. I was in Chicago, staying at a Holiday Inn with two coworkers. After a long day of work, my coworkers were tired and didn’t want to go out. One of them sweetly bought me a beer and appetizers at our hotel bar/restaurant. It was a kind thing to do, but I couldn’t stop feeling like the whole day was extremely depressing, and I swore to never work away from home on my birthday again.
This year, I broke my promise and was out of town working once more on my birthday. I ended up getting a really amazing job in Dallas that I’m still out of town for. The job takes me out of town for 24 days, one of them being my 30th birthday.
At first I was worried I was going to feel really lonely and depressed. I had already planned a birthday dinner out with my closest friends (a tradition I love every year) and when I got the job, I cancelled the dinner. Then I had a better idea, and changed the date of the dinner for when I got back. Having a birthday celebration still happening at a later date made me feel a lot better- like the party hadn’t stopped, it’d just gotten delayed.
I was then much calmer about being away for my 30th. And once I let go of my expectations, an amazing thing happened- I ended up having one of the best birthdays ever- even while away from home. I relaxed and simply made a plan for the night. I invited everyone I worked with out for dinner and drinks, and I researched restaurants and bars in Dallas. I found a well-reviewed (go Yelp!) Afghani restaurant (never had Afghani food before in my life) called Nora and it ended up being awesome. Then a coworker recommended we head to a line-dancing, two-stepping, mechanical bull-riding (never done any of those things) bar called Cowboy Red River. It was like nowhere I’d ever been before, and we had the coolest night, Texan style!
Letting go/relaxing on my birthday was the major foundation for a great night. I had no real expectations, but it helped to have a plan and get people on board with it early. I was also lucky to be surrounded with really supportive people who made the day feel special.
I guess this once again all figures into my favorite quote- “wherever you go, there you are.” Even though I was away from home, I felt much more centered this year, and I took that feeling with me. No matter what happened, I knew that I was okay. And it was nice to feel at home with myself on my birthday, even on the road.