Birthday Cards Won’t Save the World

This is likely the most disjointed thing I’ve written in a while, but I am so absolutely livid… if I go back and try to edit, I’m going to get more angry, so please forgive the lack of eloquence and use of caps…
DO NOT SEND BIRTHDAY CARDS TO PEOPLE TO WHOSE BIRTHDAY PARTIES NOBODY ATTENDED… unless that person themselves is asking you to send cards. Do not send cards to people, especially out of pity.
For someone – especially a family member – to take a picture of a young woman in such a mortifying situation, then publicly post it to the internet without permission, begging strangers to make this young woman’s solitude and loneliness the center of attention…
If someone did this to me I would kill myself. No hesitation. The embarrassment would be way too much for me. My loneliness and rejection to be splashed across the internet and media would be too much for me to handle. And even if that weren’t one of my biggest fears, it would still be really embarrassing for a family member to have to beg total strangers to come to my emotional rescue, when those closest to me – my family and alleged friends – couldn’t even be bothered to support me. How lowly must I be that people who don’t even know me have to support me when those around me can’t? The abject terror of that situation is too much for me to consider.
And yet, the world at large is about to put a young woman through that, simply because her cousin wants to gain some notoriety as a savior.
As someone who is autistic, it’s no secret it’s difficult for me to connect with people. But as an adult, I’ve learned that life happens and sometimes people can’t make it. Sometimes people are cruel. Sometimes you’re not the center of attention and you just need to deal with it. We all have birthdays, they happen every year. They are what you make of them.
On one birthday in my mid-20s, I found out my fiancé had been exchanging naked pictures and sexual texts with his ex-girlfriend. I foolishly forgave him and we ended up getting married a few months later and, well… let’s just say I’m no longer married to that jackass.
A boyfriend physically assaulted me on my 30th birthday. I spent most of the day crying while he packed his things, because I kicked him out of the house, then took an Ativan so I could sleep through the rest of the night without doing something drastic out of sheer depression. Did I beg people to make it up to me? Nope. Because that’s not how life works.
Last year, the guy I was seeing ghosted me on my birthday weekend. He made an excuse about needing to work and how he would meet up with me later that evening. Never heard from him. We had talked about going to Catalina two days later on my actual birthday. No response to my texts or calls. I moved on, because that’s his problem, not mine.
This year? I spent my actual birthday in my pajamas, being stressed out, having a couple of anxiety attacks, and well… see the above picture. Yes, that’s me on my birthday and it was the only moment of solace I had during the course of the day marking my 35th revolution around the sun. Later that evening, I had a very awkward dinner with someone whom I was dating and things were ending between us, but he still wanted to hang out. Less than ideal. Did I beg people to make it up to me? Nope. Because that’s not how life works.
A few days later, there was the birthday party I planned for myself and for which a few dozen people RSVP’d they were going to show up to celebrate my birthday with me at a bar. How many showed up? Half a dozen.
Am I annoyed? Nope. Because hey… I’M AN ADULT. I had fun with the people who did show up and made the most of it. Had nobody showed up, I would have bought my own drinks, still made the most of it, eaten all the pizza myself (oh wait, I kinda almost did… hah!), and then went home to get a good night’s sleep.
Know why I’m comfortable with this?
BECAUSE THOSE AROUND ME NEVER MADE A BIG DEAL WHEN THINGS DIDN’T GO MY WAY AND NEVER MADE BIRTHDAYS THE END ALL BE ALL OF MY WORTH. I’m awesome 24/7/365… even when I’m not being awesome. I don’t need people to acknowledge my existence and my birthday to assure me of that. I just need to keep being awesome.
Just like the young woman, who inspired so many people to engage in this nonsense, is likely awesome in her own way and doesn’t need any of you total strangers to prove it to her. She needs her family to show her… without help from the outside world. Her family needs to step up and show her she’s loved, valued, and cherished.
Without making themselves into saviors in the process and potentially embarrassing her beyond what my words can even explain to you.
Don’t send cards. Instead, reach out to those in your life who matter and tell them they matter. Tell them you value them and cherish them. Birthdays are great, but you should tell them when there’s no special occasion to do so.
It means a hell of a lot more.