In years past, my birthday has been a pretty low-key event, usually consisting of a fun dinner out with friends and family. But with the current pandemic making this impossible, I was unsure how to celebrate my 19th. I know birthdays aren’t high on anyone's list of things to worry about right now, but they are certainly a fun distraction. Now that mine has come and gone, I thought I would share how I spent it in case you or a loved one have an upcoming birthday and are searching for inspiration!

An added layer to my birthday this year was that it was preceded by the anniversaries of the deaths of some family members who were, and still are, incredibly important to me. Due to COVID-19, I was unable to see, hug and share memories of these individuals with my extended family. Instead, I decided to reflect on their memory by spending part of my birthday sifting through old photo albums. It was extremely bittersweet, and I highly recommend doing this if you’re stuck at home with dusty photo albums at your disposal. I found lots of gems!

Photo courtesy of Bailey Richards

Continuing on with my self-reflection, I had originally planned on making a special playlist leading up to my birthday. This was, and still is (I think), a cool idea. However, I started formulating the playlist by looking at my Spotify-made playlist ‘Your Top Songs 2016’ and HOLY CRAP it was incredible. I had so many flashbacks. I’m not sure if this is just the case for me, but my music from 2016 hits, and so I ultimately bumped that playlist the whole day instead. Some highlights include old songs from the discographies of Chance the Rapper, Fetty Wap, Childish Gambino, Snoop Dogg and Tyler, The Creator. It reminded me of the hometown friends I was unable to hug and brought back so many happy memories that I could hardly listen to it without dancing or smiling.

Moving away from the past, I wanted to continue my annual tradition of supporting local businesses (by eating a ton of food, of course). So, for my birthday dinners (yes, I had two because ~divorced parents things~) I had tacos carne asada and mac n’ cheese pizza, followed by homemade cake and chocolate cheesecake respectively. I also enjoyed some chocolate from the amazing candy tower my dad’s girlfriend, Linda, made for me, which is pictured in the thumbnail. Though my body is still recovering from this two-day food bender, it was entirely worth it.

In an ideal, corona-free world, I would have been at Northwestern and thus able to celebrate with my friends. However, since we are in the midst of a global pandemic that requires us all to stay home, I was only able to call them. And so call them I did.

Photo courtesy of Bailey Richards

A minor detail that helped my birthday feel slightly different than any other day spent in isolation was cleaning my room in the days leading up to it. This allowed me to be more productive and, consequently, spend less time doing homework and more time celebrating. I am a strong believer in the clutter level of your space being a direct representation of your mind.

I also made sure to abandon the sweatpants-and-tee combo that I had grown so accustomed to wearing. Instead, I wore clothes I would have if celebrating under normal circumstances. I also spent copious amounts of time with my dogs, which is one positive aspect that I would not have been able to enjoy if I was on campus.

On a completely unrelated note, I also spent way too much time photoshopping this photo of me and Lil Nas X, who shares my birthday, so I felt compelled to include it.

Photo courtesy of Bailey Richards

All in all, it was a great birthday, and I am glad I spent it the way I did. I am incredibly grateful for my friends and family who made it special. I hope you found some inspiration here if you plan on celebrating a special day while social distancing. Stay home and stay safe!