Looking back on the birthdays I had in the last 31 years, I realized how life around me has changed, and changed the way I see my life as well.
I personally think that birthday is a paradox moment. The day when we feel happy on one side because there’s no other day that is more ours than that day. But, on the other side, we also feel sad or at least worried to know that we are older than before. Ha. (Somebody pass me that anti aging cream, please! 😆 )
I don’t celebrate birthday often. Not in a way it’s usually celebrated. There is no big celebration tradition in my family. Birthday is just like any other day. Though I remember, there were some small birthday parties when I was a little kid. The simple parties with the same routine: my mom bought two regular cakes, stacked them, then decorated them with fresh flowers and leaves ( yes, no fancy icing whatsoever. I didn’t even know that black forest cake was exist at that time 😂 ), or we would buy something special for dinner like chicken satay or Javanese noodle, then took a family picture. Just like that. Sometimes I got presents. Sometimes I didn’t. But it didn’t really matter. The happiness was still mine because I was surrounded by the people I love and love me back.
Then, I grew up and there was no more birthday celebration (except the one when I was turning 17 because being 17 years old is quite a big deal in Indonesia. I got my ID card and driving license as presents by the way 😂 ), so I got used to a quiet birthday celebration.
It remained like that until 2006 when I met Zaki and had my 20th birthday few months later (oh my God, I was so young when I first met him 😀 ). Zaki spoiled me with love, poem, flower and attention. Since then, we always celebrated my birthday together. At least by having dinner or just by going out somewhere.
But last year, and also this year, Zaki wasn’t home on my birthday. So I wasn’t really in the mood of celebrating. Haha. I was just staying at home with my kid. Cooking and eating yellow rice (the Indonesian signature dish for birthday) together. Then watched movie on Netflix 😅. I was thinking of going out for an ice cream treat but the weather was pretty bad so it wasn’t really a good idea.
Having birthday far from home, with not many people around, made me bit upset at first. Though my inbox was full with their loves and greetings, somehow I felt lonely. I looked at my reflection in the mirror and all I could think was how old I am now and how miserable I am to not having something to proud of at my age. My career as a writer is going nowhere. I had been in touch with Indonesian media and publishers but the decisions to publish my drafts were left hanging (some of them didn’t even bothered to reply my email 😪 , to let me know the status of my story for instance). My academic career is blur. I applied for a position but haven’t heard back from the university (they said it’s gonna be soon, wish me luck!). I felt nothing else but a failure. Isn’t birthday supposed to be a happy day? The day you spend with laugh and smile with your significant others? The day when you’re feeling so full inside? Then why was I feeling like the most empty person in the world?
I don’t know.
Maybe I was just being dramatic.
Then I watched again the video my family sent from home, re-read the birthday greetings I received, and I realized that none of those questions really matter. I still got them. The people who love me unconditionally. I got Zaki who still think I’m wonderful (at least he said so 😆 ). I have Hayya who said she appreciates me for everything. I got my parents who said they always remember me in their prayer, and I have my friends who sincerely greeted me with the kindest and sweetest birthday greetings ever.
I looked again at my reflection in the mirror. And that time I knew, I should be thankful. I still have a life to live for. Dreams to chase for. And more importantly, much loves to be grateful for. So for my 31st birthday, I wish nothing but a healthier, happier, and much better version of myself.
Would you care enough to say “amen”? 😉