Alone on my Birthday

Later this week I will turn 23. Now this isn’t going to be a blog post about how old I feel and that I haven’t achieved anything or how young I feel and that I’m really insecure and have no idea what I’m doing in my life. No, this is a blog post about how my whole family has abandoned me on my birthday.

Disclaimer: Family, I’m not really mad at you. I love you all lots and lots. Hope you’re having a great time. 

If you’ve spent any time with me recently then I’m sorry because I can’t stop talking about how my parents are currently in India. My dad is taking a sort of half sabbatical and my mum has decided to go with him on his research adventures across Asia for three months. Specifically, India, Burma, Thailand, Singapore and Japan. I am insanely jealous. This means that my parents are going to be half way across the world on my 23rd birthday. How dare they!? Everyone knows how important 23 is.

But my being upset about not being able to spend my birthday with my parents doesn’t really make sense. I’ve spent the last three years at university where I haven’t always seen my parents on my birthday or their birthdays. But I do see them at some point in the birthday week. I was lucky enough to have the most amazing friends at uni who definitely feel like family to me. With my parents and my sister, on birthdays it’s tradition to wake up ridiculously early and open presents in my parents’ bed together. With my university housemates we’d come barging into the bedroom of the birthday girl blasting Taylor Swift’s “22” whilst jumping on their bed and then open presents. My birthdays have always been filled with so much love, fun, smiley faces and people who mean the world to me.

This year is different. My parents are in India, my sister is in Holland. And my uni housemates are scattered around the UK and the world. I’ve moved to London into a place with people I’ve just met. And even though they’re all great, it’s not the same as the family I had before. It might be the more I get to know them but right now we’re still in that process.

I’ve made plans with some of my friends in London to go bowling in the evening and I’ve taken the day off work so I can relax. But then I’ve not actually made any plans in the day and I’m a bit worried that I’m going to get sad and bored. I’m feeling sad about waking up in the morning of my birthday without anyone there to jump on my bed and sing Taylor Swift and hand me cards and presents. I even bought my own birthday present this year which I’m going to wrap and open myself.

I’ve been having my ups and downs about how I feel about my birthday this year. I’m definitely having a down moment as I’m writing this. We’ll see if I post it, if you’re reading this then I guess I did. I’m not really asking for your pity. I guess I’m just reaching out to ask if this is normal. I’m usually the most excited person about my birthday but I’m not looking forward to this one.

How do you feel about your birthday?

To perk everyone up here are some photos over the years of my birthdays (I like fancy dress).


16th Birthday Party


18th Birthday Party

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19th Birthday Party


22nd Birthday Party

Hope this post hasn’t been too much of a downer,

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  1. Hey Hannah.. if it helps, know that theres always people there in spirit! I woke up on Christmas day and my granddad was rushed to hospital (I live with my grandparents).. it was a bit of a shock. He died about a week afterwards

    But on the bright side (if I could make one) is that being alone I realised what I had, and I hope that your birthday is filled with love and joy!


  2. Hi Hananh,
    This is perfectly normal.
    When you have family around to tell you stories and give you attention on your birthday usually,its perfectly normal to feel this way when its ripped away.

    If you feel sad about it again just try and look at the positives that you do get to see some people on your birthday.

    Happy birthday Hannah 🙂


  3. Hi there!

    I’m going to Uni in Cardiff, but originally from the US. Last year I lived on campus and had flatmates and coursemates to celebrate my birthday with, give me cards, make me dinner, all the good stuff. This year I am living on my own and didn’t have classes so other than a phone call from family and lots of lovely FB birthday wishes I was on my own for the day.

    It definitely felt a bit weird and yeah kinda sucked waking up on my birthday and knowing that my day wasn’t going to be any different then a usual Tuesday.

    But I still treated myself to a sushi extravaganza at my favorite sushi place and then came home and watched Top Gun.

    Sometimes you just have to make your own fun!

    Have an awesome birthday, however you end up spending it!

  4. Well, I think your thoughts on your birthday are understandable; it’s your first proper adult birthday after all – post university, that is – so of course it would be nice to share it with loved ones. I hope in the end you feel more up than down on the actual day.

    With any luck you’ll still be on a high from your Institute of Sexology meet-up.

  5. I can see where you are coming from, I moved from Illinois to Texas (it’s about the length of England) a few years ago and I left all my friends behind. The first couple of months were difficult but it already sounds like you are getting to know people already. I think wrapping your own present is a little weird but don’t let me tell you what is normal.

    I personally only really have one more birthday to look forward to. In the united states people look forward to their 16th birthday so they can get a drivers license, their 18th birthday so they can smoke and vote, their 21st so they can drink, and their 25th because all Insurance costs go down. I’m going to be turning 25 this July so last age milestone then I’m just getting older. Anyway I hope you have a good birthday and I hope you bowl a 300.


  6. Like others have said, I think it’s normal to feel that way; it just sucks. I obviously don’t know you and what does and doesn’t work for you, but I know for me taking the day off and opening a self-wrapped present would only aggravate the problem – it would just cause me to stay hung up on the fact that I’m alone on my birthday and day off. Worse yet, I would feel like I’m wasting a day off that I could have spent on time with friends or family.

    From this post it seems like what’s important to you is the experience; the hanging out with loved ones and just having a fun day. Perhaps you could postpone your birthday and celebrate it some other time? Wait for your parents to return, or wait till the weekend and spend the day with friends? Heck, go to work and bring a cake? This birthday will turn out different than usual no matter how you turn it, so might as well try and make the most of it. And by “most of it” I don’t mean “most extravagent”, just whatever helps you have the best day possible under these circumstances. =)

    Just my two cents! (And happy early birthday!)

  7. This link came up in my newsfeed. Honestly as a mum of 3 approaching my 30th birthday I would tell my 22 year old self to relish alone time. Treat yourself to a spa day. Enjoy lunch alone. Buy yourself something special. Enjoy! (I would send you a video of my son singing shake it off to wake up to if I knew you!!)

  8. Hi Hannah,

    It sounds like you’re reaching a turning point. We all do, at some point, and the early-to-mid twenties is a pretty standard place for this type of turning point to occur. Think of it in this positive light. You’ve reached the age and maturity level where your parents are now able to pursue some absolutely amazing ambitions – that tour through Asia sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime – knowing that their being with you in spirit is sufficient on your birthday. That’s not something they could have done when you were younger or less mature. There will be milestone birthdays where you’re going to want to be surrounded by friends, if not family. 30 is your next “biggie.” I find 23 interesting, only because it’s an age where we all tried very hard to hold onto the somewhat carefree attitudes of our college days (uni days across the pond) knowing full well that life was about to rear its ugly head within the next year. So I’d say your feelings are quite normal. The actions of those around you, though, are equally normal. So… Take the opportunity to shape THIS birthday around how YOU want it celebrated instead of how others would plan it for you. Oh, and Happy Birthday! Mine is on the 20th, and as we all know, ALL good people were born in February. 🙂

    — Ron

  9. My darling Witton, this is totally normal. I am so gutted I can’t be with you this week, let’s FaceTime on Thursday and I’ll sing Taylor to you and change the lyrics to make sense.

    None of us may be there in body but we are all there with you in spirit. So many people love you, especially your crazy Birmingham family!

    I love you millions, and I’m calling you on Thursday no matter what! I might even call you at 6am and sing the wake up song before I sing Taylor 😉

    Miss you, always here even if I don’t seem it.
    Rach xx

  10. My 20th was during a 4 month trip to South America and I felt horrible. I think I cried over skype haha and I’m not even a birthday person.
    It’s perfectly normal to feel sad when you’re away from family and friends and just that feeling of home, especially for a special occasion.
    You will feel better about it though, I promise!
    Happy birthday 🙂

  11. Hi Hannah,

    You asked if it was normal or not to feel that way. I would say that yes, it is. When you’re used to spending time with close people on your birthday (or no matter which day actually), or used to doing the same funny things with the same funny people every year, that kind of change can be a little… depressing I guess.

    You’re not going to have your family or closest friends around this time, but it doesn’t mean your birthday has to suck. As you said you’re going to relax and go to the bowling so it sounds great, doesn’t it? You’ll make new kind of memories and maybe this birthday won’t be as awesome as the previous ones, but at least you’ll still have some fun. (I hope so!)

    (besides, you have subscribers fulllll of love who will think a lot about you because they love you and because you’re amazing!! (and that includes me of course haha) )

    Sorry for the mistakes, I’m French…

  12. I totally relate to the parents being absent on your birthday; for the last decade my parents spend my birthday on “vacation” in South America because my dad is always in the winning group for the sales award trip for his company, but really it’s just an excuse to do more work in a tropical location so my dad can’t get out of it (and it’s also the only time my parents can vacation together, so I would feel bad if they stayed home on my account). Anyway, being alone on significant days isn’t so bad really, it’s a great time to get introspective and have some serious, quality alone time. I’ve gotten so used to it that sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed when friends and family do want to get together, so I’ve started deliberately planning time for just myself, and time for social stuff.
    Wishing you the happiest birthday, no matter who you spend it with! 🙂

  13. Well, I think your thoughts on your birthday are understandable; it’s your first proper adult birthday after all – post university, that is – so of course it would be nice to share it with loved ones. I hope in the end you feel more up than down on the actual day.

    With any luck you’ll still be on a high from your Institute of Sexology meet-up.

  14. Hello Hannah,

    First, I’m glad that you are acknowledging these feelings instead of bottling them up. Also, I like that you are starting to analyze them instead of let them sit and fester. It good to get it out.

    Secondly, I feel like people miss what they can’t have when really they should be focused on the moment. An example, is wanting a boyfriend or girlfriend. People struggle for that person so much that they forget to focus on what’s important. That is the moment that you are in and BEING you. We miss moments to treasure ourselves in a single fashion by celebrating the next breath. I struggle with BEING myself daily. The mask resides to cover up my insecurity.

    How does that relate? What I’m trying to say is stay in the moment. Continue the Taylor Swift 22 tradition with yourself or call up your University homies an ask them to sing it with you. Jump on that bed and smile. Heck, if you do feel blue let it happen. Be in that moment. Remember that blue times will pass and turn to shades of purple. The color is the emotion of roller coaster.

    In the end, there will be people that remember your birthday. I know I have valued your intelligence that you’ve brought to the YouTube community. One day I’d love to meet you and see how cool you are in person.

    Your videos make my day better.
    I truly hope this message will brighten you.



  15. Hey Hannah! I’m eating my lunch right now as I type. Anyhow, I guess you’re feeling like your 23rd will be more ’empty’ and ‘silent’ compared to the other ones. Since, you said that your family and housemates are away, I think you feel like this upcoming birthday won’t feel like a birthday ? Please tell me if I’m wrong. On my last birthday, I didn’t really do much. That night, me and a few of my closest friends just gathered in the lounge and hungout for hours. That’s just me, because i prefer the closest people around me rather than a BOOOOM-DAZZLING party filled with people I might not even know.

    And you asked if this is normal? Yes, it is. I’m uncomfortable with the term normal because if you think deep about it, it actually doesn’t exist. Normality doesn’t even exist. I think it’s just a word created by society based on the majority of opinions and what actually exists. Like…this is going to sound weird, but it’s ‘normal’ to have 2 nipples right?? Because thats what most people have. But what if suddenly, 99% of the population was granted an extra nipple so they have 3. Result = 99% would become ‘normal’ and the 1%(which were previously ‘normal’) becomes the abnormal. Most dumb example ever, but whoooooo careeees.

    When you said, you weren’t looking forward to your 23rd birthday, my heart just sunk. Because it reminded me of my birthdays I didn’t look forward to. It sucks. And on a note…I ALWAYS buy myself a present on my birthday, just like you. So that makes us both losers.

    I think what I’m trying to say is, you should just be yourself. Don’t force yourself on feelings that don’t naturally come. Good or bad feelings don’t matter, as long as they’re HONEST feelings. And btw, your whole blog post is a example of this. You posted what you felt.

    And…………Happy Birthday Hannah!!!! 🙂 HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!

    (Oh yea, back on nipple example, that reminded me of that guy that got his nipple sliced off when Daenyrys(can’t spell it, the dragon lady) was buying an army in Game of Thrones. You watch, right? ARE YOU EXCITED FOR SEASON 5!!?!?!?)

  16. Happy early birthday Hannah! I’m always alone on my birthdays and trust me it can actually be quite nice, you can spend all day reflecting your life and how far you’ve come and where you want to go from here, birthdays are a great milestone in your life to think about stuff 🙂 you can relax and have some “me time” reading, watching shows/movies, take a bath, pamper yourself and all that 😉 hope you have fun!

  17. Hi Hannah,
    I can totally understand how you´re feeling. I guess that´s one part of growing up and getting out into the world. Maybe just try sth. new and go out with new friends or people you want to know better. Or you could treat yourself with a very nice spa day or sth. like that. Don´t be bothered by being alone for some time. All your friends and family will think about you and even I will do :). Keep your head up and smile, it´s all about your inner attitude towards this day.
    Lots of hugs from Germany!

  18. Hey Hannah!

    I turn 25 (half of f*%king 50, 1/4 of a F*%KING CENTURY….*sob*) on the 27th and I just want to forget about it. I’m happy to stay early 20’s, it’s an age where you can still be discovering yourself and you’re still exciting and nobody expects tooooooooo much of you. Mid twenties means life/kids/house/mortgage/pension planning…….. I’m not ready for that, at all. I’m not ready to be nearer 30 than 20. Oh god, hand me the anti wrinkle cream!

    Joking (maybe), in all seriousness I wouldn’t worry. Fill your day with what makes you happy and while doing those things make sure you always have some sort of alcoholic beverage within reach and chocolate if things get nasty.

    Have fun!

  19. Hey

    Don’t be feel down about feeling alone on your birthday, it’s really not that bad altho I know you’re usually a very happy person.

    I stop celebrating my birthday after my 16th now this year am turning 31 I don’t feel old cos people still think I’m turning 24 so basically I’ve been celebrating it for almost 7 years now, I must say tho that I do have really good friends cos they always come around on my birthday. You will never be alone on your birthday cos you always have someone around you even tho it’s only one person plus you have a lot fans that surely will celebrate it with you.. (do a live feed on your birthday and take your fans with you) HA! That would be kinda cool haha

    Hope you feel a bit better now!

  20. Hey Hannah! Don’t be down ! i believe today will be amazing for you :).. Just don’t stay at room/home. Go have a walk or go to a place where lot of ppl having joy because I believe the environment will make you feel like them. Last year I just came to London study and non of them know that was my birthday which is more worst Hannah ! Don’t be down ! Happy Birthday !

  21. Hey Hannah,

    As many have already said before me I think that what you’re going through is normal. With that being said I also think that what you are experiencing is just another natural step of growing up. I also feel that as hard as this has been for you you’re still very lucky.

    My parents separated when I was 10 and that made birthdays difficult. Prior to the seperation, my birthdays were always great, we went to Rainforest Cafe on the day of, and then I would have a really sweet party later that weekend. They were always themed (fashion, acting, medieval) and a group effort on the part of both myself and my parents. When my parents separated, birthdays changed completely and not always for the better. With that being said I’m not writing this to tell you my vague sob story but just to say it that what you sound like you are experiencing isn’t that bad and will only be shitty if you let it.

    It’s definitely a change from what you’re use to and you’re perfectly entitled to those feelings. Many other people grow up with different, sometimes much more difficult, birthday experiences and I think that it’s important to remember that when you feel down about yourself. It puts it into perspective and allows you to recognize the other things in your life that you can be grateful for. It might seem like a silly idea, but it really makes it easier to be happy. For me as I grew up I learnt how to enjoy what I did have rather than be sad about what I once had. That mentality changed my perspective and helped me to enjoy my birthday and also be able to let the day pass without any feelings of regret or sadness. I mean for me, it is just a day like any other; the value I put on it is entirely my choice.

    Besides just because you don’t celebrate your birthday with you’re friends and family on occasion doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate it yourself. Perhaps not by wrapping your own present but instead by just pampering yourself and having a me day!

    I apologize for the extreme length of this ‘reply’. I had come in with the intentions of a short and sweet response but clearly that did not happen. And by the way, Hannah I’ve been watching your videos for a few months now and I think you’re great. I love your educational/vlog style approach and I just saw your TED talk which you killed congrats! You’re so lucky to do a talk I have gone to 2 TEDx talks and really want to present one myself- oh and I’m am also a history major! Keep up the good work I have faith that you will do sweet things in the future!

  22. Hi Hannah, I’m currently nearing the 20th mark on life (lol) and I think my last birthday that was an actual party was when I was 8, sometimes someone that wants me in good graces will make or buy a cake, presents are a type shrug affair to me at least. I don’t mind, my eldest brother is worse than me he doesn’t like to be reminded of it at all, and has turned his phone off the day of, so as not to receive b-day calls, only my middle brother enjoys the actual b-day, makes us all endure party things, which are quite cruel. (clean up comes to mind)
    Happy (late) Birthday, breathe in and out and do something that only you enjoy, let it complete you for a little while, then share it with everyone. (annoy everyone with it) and grin.

    If you want another book check out My commander by Alanea Alder, it’s paranormal fiction, hopefully you don’t mind that and all the swearing. it’s I belive a trilogy but I could be wrong. ( PS: its Incredibly FUNNY! And a quite quick read)

    Hugs and love.

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