We’ve all been in the awkward situation; how do YOU react when people (coworkers, waiters in restaurants) sing “Happy Birthday” to you?
by Lauren Westbrook
My boss called me into her office from across the hall, asking if she could speak to me for a moment. Instinctively, I grabbed my notebook and a pen and made my way in. A group of about five of my coworkers immediately burst into song. On the desk, there was a chocolate cupcake and a card that various people from around the floor had signed. It was so sweet of them to think of me, and to put themselves through the potentially awkward task of singing aloud in such a small group…
“Happy Birthday to youuuuu, Happy Birthday to youuuuu, Happy Birthday dear Laurennnnn…”
My eyes darted from person to person, I sort of clasped my hands behind me, then in front of me, muttered “Awww,” sang along for a second before realizing that it was sort of silly to sing to myself and ultimately just resigned to rocking side to side to the rhythm of the song, awkwardly waiting for it to conclude.
I witnessed this same exact fiasco two more times over the course of the next week: one woman at a restaurant covered her face with her hands the entire time her friends sang, another guy at a conference I attended just shook his head, put his hands in his pockets and looked down at the ground. When I mentioned the observation to a friend, she recalled how one of her own coworkers had simply broken into “conductor hands” and flamboyantly led the group as they sang.
So, what are you supposed to do when people outside of your close friends/families sing “Happy Birthday” to you? The question is a particularly interesting one for me because I think it speaks to a much bigger irony: Why do so many of us (no matter how confident and comfortable we are) find it so difficult to relish in moments where we are the center of praise and outward appreciation? Especially when, often, that’s the very thing we seek, crave, and strive for… Thoughts? What do you do when people sing “Happy Birthday” to you?