A Birthday Reflection


Have you ever had a day where you felt kind of lost in the beginning of the day, then had a change of attitude midday and ended it feeling somewhat…what’s the right word for it, peaceful? That was my day on July 21, last week. It was the anniversary of my birth 39 years ago. Geez, I’m almost 40. It’s my last year of hurrah before…what, downhill? For those of you 40+ who are reading this, please don’t mind my speech, that’s just ‘fear’ talking, not the real me.

It was a very ordinary day, actually. Nothing big or special happened. I went through the day like any other day I have spent here in Makassar. I started the day with a birthday prayer, then went about my routine, which usually in the morning involved helping my mom with house work. Unlike most households in Indonesia, we do not have workers in the house to help with the house cleaning. Most Indonesian houses have at least one house maid, sometimes more than one.

My house cleaning routine on that day was a little bit busier than usual. We would be having some friends over the next day, so there were extra work to do. Luckily the work did not feel so long and boring due to the birthday greetings sent by friends through my blackberry handphone and facebook. I managed somehow to have the house alone to myself for about three hours in the early afternoon. My parents wanted me to come along with them in the morning to do their errands, but I insisted on staying home.

I was glad I stayed behind because I needed that ‘alone’ time. I had a mini break down moment. It happened somewhat out of the blue, although I was not surprised when it happened. I have been holding it in for several weeks, this feeling of wanting to cry sometimes. Ever since I stayed at my parents’ house, I tried my best not to cry. I’ve had many moments when I felt like crying, but stopped myself from doing it for fear of losing control and making my parents even more worried. It was a short cry, but a good one, and left me feeling satisfied afterward. The tears needed to come out. Having the time alone for many hours helped because I still had time to mask the aftermath result of crying on my face.

Not quite sure how to put it into words why I cried. There’s a long answer and there’s a shorter version. The short version is because I somewhat felt good and bad. I felt good because I still fully believe until now that I’ve made the right decision. I’ve been feeling overall more content and happier, less sad moments, and I have NOT been feeling lonely at all ever since I stepped foot on this home land of mine. However, the sad part crept in from feeling a loss over what I have left behind. I believe the word to describe my condition is grieving. I was grieving over the things that I have let go.

I think another reason why I felt somewhat lost on my birthday was because a part of me was feeling down when thinking about where I am now in my life, at the age of 39, and in terms of what I have done with my life. That part of me was feeling bad for myself for not having a job yet, for having to start over new at this age, for…basically, failing. It took me a long and good cry to feel better and then bounce back to finally have the courage to invite happiness back in. I had a little moment of argument in my head between the pessimistic part of me and the more optimistic one, the one that kept telling me that I cannot fall apart.

Needless to say, after my “moment” I went to the bathroom and washed my face. I did whatever I could to make sure I left no sign. I even put ice over my eyes for several seconds to reduce the swelling (an old trick from my mom). The rest of the day went by surprisingly smooth. I even looked forward to my birthday celebration the next day.

The party was a wonderful one. It was the first birthday party again with so many people since high school. Yes, it has been that long since the last time I was surrounded by a room full of people (about 30 people) on my birthday. Even my mom commented about it because it was the first time too in at least 20 years that I have celebrated my birthday with my parents. To think that we did not have to talk over the phone on that day for birthday greeting kind of pulled me back a little. After all, it was the routine for 20 years.

So I had a wonderful, beautiful, memorable, lovely birthday. I never even thought in the past to write a birthday reflection. During my years in the U.S., I used to hate my birthday. I felt like I wanted to go into hiding and did not want to see people on my birthday so not to be reminded of it. The reason why was because my birthday back then was always accompanied by the feeling of loneliness. It was the same as in Christmas and Chinese New Year. Well, I didn’t feel like that this time around on my birthday, and what a welcoming change of mindset that was for me!

I am blessed, I feel blessed for having my family and friends, and thank you to my God who has never left me alone even though there were many times I felt so alone and lonely. Knowing I have all of these makes it easier to go through what is ahead. Love does bring strength, especially knowing that I’m loved and accepted here. I belong here.

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One thought on “A Birthday Reflection

  1. i have those moments too, when i think ‘crap, i’m thirty and i haven’t done anything yet careerwise’. my self-pitying-moments, i call them.

    a very dear individual keep saying to me, ‘you’re only 30, you’re a baby’. while i realise it is true (after all, i still have over 30 years to build a successful career), it’s not always easy to have courage. you give me hopes. if you can start over at 39, why can’t i start at 30? didn’t they say it’s never too late? so thank you for putting your feelings down in words and putting it out there.

    happy belated birthday, btw. glad you had a wonderful day with your loved ones.

    oh, and… we could’ve met in mks while i was there in august!!

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