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“What are your plans for your birthday?”

Truth be told, I don’t have any. As with other aspects in life, I don’t have definite plans for this occasion.

Even on my 18th birthday, which, I have observed, is a pretty big deal for girls in this country, I never entertained the possibility of having a debut. I thought my resources and time were better off spent only with a small circle of friends. (That celebration, by the way, didn’t turn out as I expected because I woke up lightheaded while scouring the resort for breakfast, to cure a hangover, with friends. It was full of stories to tell and epiphanies to remember. But that’s an altogether different story.)

I love attending celebrations but I dislike being in the spotlight with hundreds of people around me. I prefer focusing on a specific circle of friends instead of spreading my energy and attention to a lot of groups. What an irony, considering I lean more on the extrovert side according to the Myers-Briggs personality test. Perhaps people manifest their personalities in various ways.

I have always wondered why I don’t have an immediate response whenever people ask me what I want for my birthday or for Christmas. Or why the anticipation has dwindled, compared to my younger days when the excitement leading to the day of the event can barely be contained. (I remember a workshop wherein the resource speaker said children are the happiest people in the world because 1) they believe in magic and 2) they don’t question why things happen–they just accept life as it is.)

Sixteen.

During my 16th birthday when I had barely grasped the reality of being a college student and I hadn’t discovered the joys of breaking up with hair rebonding.

Maybe I have become realistic enough to realize the things I truly want cannot be obtained instantly or are intangible. This leads me to the reason I choose to spend my resources on experience instead of material possessions. Of course I don’t mind occasionally indulging in shopping sprees or investing in a gadget which can make everyday life more convenient; I have found the thrill of having a tangible present lasts only for so long.

(This is why I avoid window shopping as a regular pastime because it has a way of making things I can do without seem necessary. It lengthens the Material Things I Want to Have list when, in the event it be fulfilled, it can only do so little in filling this gaping hole in my chest. Charot.) Plus, reality check: I don’t have unlimited funds. Or maybe I have inherited my parents’ not having developed an expensive taste for things.

What’s with birthdays, anyway? To me, it’s an official reminder that I am alive and that I should live. Aging shouldn’t be a cause of worry except if, all my life, I have been concerned with nothing but my appearance. I’d be lying if I say I don’t care about how I look but it’s not the be-all and end-all of my existence. Also, as much as possible, I avoid playing the you-should-be-happy-because-other-people-don’t-have-it card because the thought of being grateful out of another person’s misery doesn’t sound appealing, but an ask.fm reply by Shakira Sison succinctly puts it when asked of her definition of happiness:

Waking up in the morning and taking that first breath. Being alive is a good, good thing. 151,600 people die every day. 6,000 every hour. Nearly all of them wish they could have another minute. Make every one of yours count.

I know this sounds like a line lifted from a cheesy self-help manual but, if anything, the greatest gifts I could have are: the feeling of being appreciated by people important to me and a sense of contentment while keeping my aspirations in mind–that “there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than here” feeling is priceless. And cash. Come on, who am I kidding?

Twenty one. They say the twenties are a person’s prime years. The way I see it, this age is when I’m young enough to see the future as promising for reinventions, chances, and passion but old enough to not specialize on mistakes and to control one’s alcohol intake.

This feeling of starting with a clean slate is the same I have during New Year, minus the fireworks and Noche Buena. To share a passage from my journal when I was still on a New Year high (no, not that kind of high):

To deciding that I want it more than I’m afraid of it. To be more generous in loving and understanding. To simplify my life and keep only the essentials. To accept that I can’t control everything and to change what I can control.

To be open to infinite possibilities and adventures. To be healthier and fit. To be the kind of person I want to be best friends with. To focus on the ‘is’ and ‘will be’ instead of the ‘could, should have been’.

To think more and less of my self–more to increasing self-awareness and shaping my life instead of simply watching other people’s businesses; less enough to realize that my problems aren’t the only issues in the world that matter and that my energy is better off spent making the world a better place instead of hosting a pity party.

I don’t know if I’m still making sense. If I had spoken like this in real life to people I frequently interact with, it would probably be met with tons of char and its synonyms.

Whatever. To the best year yet.

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