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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Happy Birthday in the Pandemic

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I almost canceled on Jenny’s birthday at the last minute back in 2017. The party was over an hour away in heavy traffic and I just had one of the worst days of the year blow up in my face. Earlier that afternoon, my funder for a startup media project told me he was abruptly pulling the plug on all of his venture investments. I needed to process the shock and figure out a plan to take care of the employees I had recruited that year.

But I went to the party anyway.

Not only was Jenny one of my closest friends, a voice within told me it mattered. Much more than stupid projects that come and go. Here in 2021, that venture itself is meaningless to me except for the fond memories of the team. We were all working together to build a dream.

“Music Video” of Jenny’s Birthday Party in 2017

Usually I would pour out my mess and scatter them on the table for my friends to dissect and counsel me. But it wasn’t the time or place – it was Jenny’s day. So I smiled and joined along. I’m glad I did.

Now at the start of 2021 where I just celebrated a very quiet birthday, I’m grateful I went all the way to Hongdae in 2017. It’s a reminder of the in-person gatherings we took for granted as our lives have changed because of the coronavirus. It’s also made me realize that during this pandemic, there are people everyday who have to celebrate their special day quietly – almost as if the world is on mute.

To all those who celebrate in isolation, happy birthday to you! And take time to remember some of those birthday parties you’ve had for yourself or attended for someone else. Once we can return to normal, let this period of pensive regret spur you to attend many birthday parties no matter how you feel. They will be the important memories later on in life.

Photos of how I did spend my pandemic birthday are on my Instagram. @theseoulite

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