I used to love birthdays.

Mostly other people’s – what better way to validate your existence in this world than for people to tell and show you that they love you? I mean, we should be doing that every day for our loved ones anyway but birthdays are like cheat codes, no one can tell you anything except what’s positive on that day.

So I’d always get excited about other people’s birthdays. I’d be the girl who is buying gifts, the one who is planning the surprise birthday party, the one making reservations at the restaurant, the one who is up early to call and wish someone HBD because I’m in a different province that day and can’t tell them in person.

But when it came to my day? Dololo.

I think I mostly didn’t let people do anything for me on my birthdays because I just never wanted it to suck. I wanted every birthday to be like that scene in Beyonce’s Live At Roseland: Elements of 4 DVD where they perform ‘Party.’ (seriously, watch this.)

But in order to have that, someone would have to plan it.

Now I know someone out there will read this and be like: but I tried to do something for your birthday! Which is probably true. But I think when you have an inferiority complex like I used to, it’s easy to see people’s lack of OTT-ness about your day as a reflection of how they feel about you. And who is ready to face that?!

Anyway, this year, I decided: eff all that! I’m going to do something for my birthday and it’s going to be dope and I don’t care if no one shows up, I’m going to have fun planning it and I’m going to have fun celebrating me.


So I hosted the inaugural Helen’s R&B Trivia Night – or HRBT (pronounced Herbet) Night. It was a cross between the most obvious things about the genre and a masterclass in the finer details of all things R&B. And it was a whole lot of fun!

I was actually inspired by Steph Watts – who runs this awesome blog and hosts a regular R&B trivia night in America. I don’t know exactly what she and her friends do on those nights as they don’t post any recaps or anything like that. But I just liked the idea of devoting a night to my favourite music and doing it my way. So I did.

And hosting Herbert showed me that I was always intimidated by someone not doing anything for me on my birthday because I was scared to know that no one really cared about me. Super dramatic, right? Anyway, I decided that I would validate me and subsequently learned that I never had to.

So thank you, R&B, for teaching me something yet again. And thank you to everyone who came through and participated and was a good (or trash-talking) sport. I still love birthdays but now, I don’t feel the need to do anything grand for anyone. I’ll give you your flowers while you can still smell them.