So 2 weeks ago, I turned 21. Yay!
It was a simple affair spent with family, friends and loved ones, and also a really cute birthday cake courtesy of Bengawan Solo ^^
On that note, I keep getting this question – “how does it feel like to turn 21?”
Well, for one, I’m glad that I can finally vote, and that I can watch every category of movie in the cinema now. Other than that, like any other birthday, I have a feeling of great gratitude and thankfulness for having lived and grown another year. I’m still quite a kid anyway, given that I did just watch Disney’s Zootopia last night (great movie) and I enjoyed every moment of it.
In any case, this birthday occasion does call for an appropriate movement of self-reflection. If I had to summarise my thoughts about the lessons I’ve learnt in the past 21 years of my life, I think I’d leave it in 3 simple points.
1) Love who you are, and don’t let anyone tell you anything different.
Eat all the chocolate you want, smile always and don’t feel guilty about it. Life is complicated enough without you beating down yourself for the things you consider to be imperfections.
Keep your head up, because once you know who you are, you won’t be afraid of giving your everything to do what you love. In any case, the more you love yourself for who you are, the more you do things that make yourself and those around you appreciate the good, the bad and even the ugly of the quirks that make each of us unique. Celebrate what makes you unique, and then strive to be the best person you can be for yourself. Haters are always going to be out there – knowing who you are not only keeps you confident when they try to pull you down, but makes it that much better when you prove them wrong by achieving what you want to, while still being the real you.
2) Find out what’s important, and keep it close.
Yes, getting good grades and a cushy job after graduation is great. It’s important to have ambitions, but getting paid $6k a month at the cost of coming home to no friends, no family and nobody to kiss goodnight isn’t worth it. Perhaps I’m just a really chill law student, but I believe in the value of making sure you always have time to appreciate the people and the moments you are blessed with. Paper certs are meant to be laminated and hung on a wall, but the people in your life are not – they are meant to be hugged and talked to.
It is absolutely okay to leave your books for an hour to eat a dinner with your mom and dad, or to look at your significant other’s face and appreciate it for each that crease appears when he/she smiles. 15 minutes of coffee break with your buddies to complain about the day isn’t going to hurt either. So do it more, and life becomes much bigger than the next final exam.
3) Take what life gives you, and don’t get caught up in the pressure of the moment.
Life’s a bit like the weather forecast. Sometimes you can tell when it’s going to be sunny or rainy, but sometimes it catches you a little off guard. It starts to rain and you don’t have an umbrella in a storm, and maybe you get drenched trying to find a way home. From then on, you try not to leave the house without an umbrella, but even if you do and it starts to rain, you get a lot better at dealing with it. You might even just stop for a selfie for your Snapchat while you’re at it.
Hurdles come, and they go. When we were 12, we wondered how we would ever get over PSLE, and when we were 18, we wondered how we would get over A Levels – look where we are now: university, polytechnic, working. We made it through what kid version of us thought was an insurmountable hill. 35-year-old us is going to have made it though what now version of us is going through. Trust that when you give your all, things will turn out sooner, if not later. Try to have fun even when you’re doing the most mundane thing. Make memories and archive all the moments you can, since no two are the same.
And that about concludes my first post! Thank you to everyone for making my 21st memorable, and more importantly for lighting up my life every day 🙂
“Life is more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party.”
– Jimmy Buffet
Till next time!
~Pictures by my good friend and talented photographer Qiu Yunfei~