Crying on Your Birthday


December 19th, 2000. I was born on December 19th in the year 2000, the year of the dragon if you were wondering, at around 6:48 pm. It was a pretty cold day in upstate New York – or so I’m told – and there had been a ridiculous amount of snowfall in the days before my triumphant arrival. December 19th, 2020, next weekend, is my 20th birthday. Two decades. Exiting the coveted teenage years. Probably feeling really old even though, objectively, I’m not. Birthdays are odd because everyone is celebrating and it’s usually a happy time, but there’s also something else there. There is an overwhelming feeling of emptiness that fills you up. I always get this weird nostalgia for nothing in particular; it’s a time that makes me unconsciously reflect on everything I’ve ever done and think. My reverie, beginning at midnight as soon as the clock hits midnight, signifying the start of “my” day, usually ends in tears.

I’ve seen recently that other people find birthdays kind of sad and that they cry too. So, with that, I made this playlist for us all. Consider it the perfect first 35 minutes of your Earth anniversary. We’ve got strings and synth and overall warmth to hopefully replace the fog that’s filled your chest.

To begin, I didn’t want to be too strong. So, Fleetwood Mac eases us into the night with “Never Going Back Again”. It’s a bouncy happy birthday rendition that doesn’t actually say the words, but you know they’re there. Next, we have “Inside Your Mind” by The 1975. Anything that builds like this will definitely build into your chest, crowding out any unwanted fog or ice that has probably formed during your last trip around the sun. It doesn’t build to anything drastic, just a slow warm guitar riff that’s not quite hard enough to break the moment. Next, we have Ashton Irwin with “Matter of Time (Interlude)”. For some reason, the interlude tracks artists sometimes include of their albums are always my favorite, and this is no exception. It’s perfectly and obnoxiously symbolic of this exact moment on your birthday actually; this sadness you feel, often times for no reason, on this (technically and cynically) arbitrary day, is a only fleeting interlude until tomorrow. Like he says, “it’s all just a matter of time”. Ben Platt joins the ring next with his track “In Case You Don’t Live Forever”. Admittedly, this may be morbid, but I like to think of it more as a reminder to consider your birthdays to be presents all on their own, because you made it there, didn’t you? Gross and cheesy, I know, so just revel in this one and we’ll move on when you’re ready.

Next we have “Protocol” by The Vamps. Its slow swing just kind of lulls you through any tears that may have formed. By now, the room is just kind of full as you sit in the dark, on your bed, with the only light coming from you laptop screen. ZAYN is ready to follow up with “iT’s YoU” to keep things calm. This song, for me, drops an additional, infinitesimal amount of something into my heart. I don’t know if it’s love or happiness or just contentment, but it drips like honey in an empty mason jar, and I’m quick to secure the lid so it doesn’t drown whatever else is living in there. “Immature” by Ashe is next. Her singsong talking and storytelling are at the forefront the track, so much so that you almost don’t realize how sad it is. It just feels like someone came to your birthday slumber party and you aren’t really alone. Charlotte Lawrence’s “God Must Be Doing Cocaine” floats in next to make you feel so small, in the best way. I’ve never had a song make me so comfortable in knowing that everything is a mess for everyone else too. Maybe I’ll treat this next year as a chance to get it together. “Things That I Miss” by awfultune and Sandosius is sentimentality produced. It’s knowing time has passed and missing it dearly, but letting it go to grow. It really is perfect for 12:29am on your birthday. 

DYSN follows with “It Felt Like the World”. It’s less than 2 minutes long, but it makes me want to leave my room right now and run down the empty street that’s waiting for me outside. It sounds like a Saturday night in winter, too close to Christmas to have anything social going on, but not close enough to feel that familial tie to the house just yet. You put on gloves and a coat, but you don’t have time to zip it because you just need to run outside, so you don’t.

To end the trance you may or may not have enter, Phoebe Bridgers joins the evening with “Moon Song’. This is another song that just screams reminiscence, but now in a sad way. By now, I will have been inured to the idea that I’m now 20 years old. With a duo of decades under my belt now, I can close my laptop and go to sleep, excited for the rest of the day. It’s a short 24 hours, so I can’t spend the whole thing crying, can I? 35 minutes is enough, and now I prepare myself for cake and warm wishes and maybe a present or two. 20 is big and it’s only the beginning. Happy Birthday.


1. Never Going Back Again by Fleetwood Mac

2. Inside Your Mind by The 1975

3. Matter of Time (Interlude) by Ashton Irwin

4. In Case You Don’t Live Forever by Ben Platt

5. Protocol by The Vamps

6. iT’s YoU by ZAYN

7. Immature by Ashe

8. God Must Be Doing Cocaine by Charlotte Lawrence

9. Things That I Miss by awfultune, Sandosius

10. It Felt Like the World by DYSN

11. Moon Song by Phoebe Bridgers

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