Crushed In the Cubicle: You Say It’s Your Birthday?

In elementary school, your birthday usually meant cupcakes and a rousing round of “Happy Birthday” sung just for you. In college, it meant an epic bar crawl with shots galore that only cost you an epic hangover the next day. But now that you’re in the nine to five world, birthdays don’t seem to matter as much. You’ll still get slammed with work, get yelled at by your boss, and may even have to stay late—even if all your friends are planning to meet you for post work drinks. In short? It’s never gonna be a celebration. But here’s how you can make the day a little more festive:

Take the day off. If you have the time, why torture yourself? What with constantly checking Facebook for celebratory wall posts, making sure evening plans are in effect, and constantly keeping on the lookout for the mailman, it’s not like you’re going to get any work done anyway. But if that’s out of the question, then go to step two:

Let people know. The first time I had to work on my birthday, I was two weeks into a new job where I didn’t even know exactly who my boss was or where she sat. The whole day, I kept waiting for someone to say something—why are you so happy? Why does your cell keep ringing?—but no one did. When I finally left, I ended up spilling to the random accounting dude in the elevator. “I’m 23 today!” I said, in a voice so pathetically dripping with hope and excitement that I saw a flicker of concern cross his eyes. “All right. Party on,” he said as the elevator doors opened and he scurried away. After that, I realized that it was much better to tell my coworkers—even if they’re kinda lame, people like knowing those things. And it may even score you a free cupcake.

Send yourself flowers. Kinda tacky, but I can’t advocate it enough. Seriously, flowers always make everything better. [LINK:] Plus, if you send yourself flowers, you have a chance to enjoy the other bouquets you receive, instead of just feeling relieved to get them. Make sense?

Forget about calories. Or working out (unless it makes you happy). For this day, consider the vending machine your playground and convince your favorite coworkers to take you out to the Mexican place down the street—and order a margarita. It’s seriously the one day of the year where you can live it up, and why not start at the office.

Make the most of it. If you’re lucky enough to work in an office where they do an actual conference room celebration—complete with snacks!—don’t take it for granted. That means you can’t roll your eyes when they begin the birthday song, you can’t pretend to be busy when you’re called into a mysterious “meeting,” and you have to say thanks if your bitch of a boss sends you flowers—even when you know they came from her assistant, and that she didn’t even know they were delivered to you. And if that’s never gonna happen, then …

Create your own damn celebration. If you hate everyone in your office, spring for a mani during your lunch break. Get a full-fat latte before work. Don’t answer your phone unless you absolutely-I’m-gonna-get-fired-if-I-don’t-have to. It’s your day so live it up!

Finally, make sure to pay it forward!
Buy a Cinnabun on your cubemate’s big day. Be the girl who routes the card from cube to cube. Broadcast that it’s a shy birthday girl’s big day by letting it slip to the office gossip. The point is, you’ve got 24 hours a year where you really can make it all about you—why waste eight of them in the office?

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