Do you remember your past birthdays?
How about the birthdays 10, 15 or 20 years ago?
I am sad to admit that I can't remember much past ten years. My memory sucks and I can only vaguely recall young-me birthdays.
I asked BFF recently to fill me in on my own birthdays as she has a great memory. She did, but some didn't even ring a bell.
When I move back home, I plan to flip through family photo albums and see whether there were any birthday pictures taken (my parents were not into photography) and build a birthday memory book from there.
From my vague recollection of past birthdays, I would say that my 16th birthday rocked the most.
Maybe because it was the very first time, I spent my birthday as a young-adult, away from my parents for the first time and among hundreds of my schoolmates who threw a surprise celebration for me at the school retreat camp. At midnight, they stood with candles in their hands, surrounding me in circles while singing the Happy Birthday song. That was AWESOME!
Made me blush the whole time. I thanked my school "gang" profoundly who prepared for it and completely blindsided me while doing it. There was no birthday picture taken because it was the era of the yellow screened Nokia 8210.
Unfortunately, a few birthdays after that sucked the most.
With 2008 birthday being the worst birthday ever! It had nothing to do with the day itself, but more about my life in general and the people I chose to hang out with most of the time.
I even cried on one or two of my birthdays. Eek!
It was a mix of my efforts to fit in by pleasing the wrong crowd, high expectations, and douche-bag exes.
Retrospectively, it was silly and I wished I'd celebrate it with a lighter happier heart. God knows, I had so many things worth celebrating of another age. I didn't and I can't turn back time now, can I?
Anyway, after the unhappy birthdays series, I played it cool by not celebrating at all or just the minimum to please my parents for giving birth and raising me. To think about it, my birthdays as a kid/YA were more of their accomplishment than my own. I was on the "yes, it's my birthday and no, it's not a big deal" phase for a few years until I realised no, it wasn't making me happy either!
I was a hard birthday-girl to please.
Starting to Celebrate My Birthdays
So, I decided to take another route, to really celebrate it myself with little expectations of others. Starting from 2009 when I flew back home just to celebrate my birthday.
After that, I started to take a day off on my birthdays and do whatever my heart pleased, usually by going to the bookstore, treating myself with bubble tea and the most authentic local Indonesian food wherever I was, TV marathons until the the early morning or take a nap.
I also started to give myself a birthday gift, sometimes two. There was always a celebratory cake and balloons as I have long stopped having birthday celebrations that "fit" my age.
Lastly, something I learned from my parents, to share a little fortune with others, through donation, care packages or anything on my birthdays. It always makes my birthdays feel ten times better.
We should ALWAYS celebrate our own birthdays in our own way!
By doing things, eating food we like and keeping only a small expectation from outside factors, if any; after all it's your day not others.
That said, the past few years, I was lucky enough to be able to celebrate it with the people I love the most, over dinner with sweetly written wishes and cat stuff gifts involved. Thank you, guys! And if I am to wish about all my future birthdays, I wish all of it are filled with cultural travel experiences.