CANNOT. BELIEVE. I’M. ALREADY. 22.
2012, for the most part, has been a half ho-hum, half-sad year so far, and I know we all still have three more months ahead of us for me to throw this judgment too early in the game, but whatever. Not a great way to begin a birthday blog post, I know, but you get the drift. I looked forward to this too, you know. Yet somehow, a few days before the tenth, I found myself in an extraordinary state of pensive self-reflection, and I was so sad-bordering-on-mad depressed about everything in my life so far. I was so discouraged about this gnawing sense of self-pity, this apparent lack of accomplishment, this habit of failing everyone’s expectations notwithstanding my own. I was all of a sudden too tired of everything, so dissatisfied and sensitive about every little darn thing. It’s like an unwanted invitation back to puberty; I was so moody and sullen and introspective—and I knew exactly why.
Because I know I could do so much better than this, could have had more than this. And it kills me, you know. It hurts so bad that I almost despised my upcoming 22nd birthday. And then it happened. Nothing like the love of God and the love of people around you to bring you to your knees again, back to gratefulness and the overwhelming blanket of grace, of mercy, of a lot of things that still makes our miserable lives bearable, and in so many ways worth it.
I spent the first half of my day at the office and with people I worked with. Here’s the catch: I’ve only been with the company for a few months, and I haven’t even told anyone when my birthday is. It’s my own decision, see. Something experimental I wanted to try for myself. I wanted to know what it feels like to have my birthday on an environment where no one knows about it, and would thereby be just a casual, ordinary day. Of course I already anticipated the sadness, but to cut the story short, let’s just say that the experiment failed. My office mates all of a sudden wanted me to stay around for a meal after work, and I said sure no problem. And then they randomly wanted to go for a quick drink, which I still couldn’t say no to despite me telling them that I don’t really drink. Off we went drinking a bucket of Vodka then—which tasted like nothing anyway. I have suspected for a long time now that I have high tolerance for alcohol despite me being a non-drinker, and it really seems to be true. I stayed with them for four hours just chatting, until out of nowhere they started talking about anniversaries and then eventually, of birthdays. It felt like something out of a movie, really, when they finally asked me when my birthday is. I still have a clear memory of their slack-jawed faces when I told them that today is my birthday—they wouldn’t believe it until I showed them my postal ID. They couldn’t get over it and I laughed so hard when one of them asked me, “Malungkot ba buhay mo?” OMG was I so transparent? Haha.
After I said goodbye to them, I bumped into my other friends who were on their way to a wake of a mutual friend’s dad, and I said I’ll be coming with them since I’ve been planning to, anyway. Yes, you’ve read that right—I really went on a wake on my very birthday! It was such an experience though, as my friend who lost his father narrated to us the last day he had with his father, and the final moments before he died in the hospital. Throughout his story, he was smiling although I can see he is still fighting back tears inside. He told us of how their family desperately had a panic when they realized how costly everything’s going to be just for them to settle the hospital bills and the funeral parlor expenses, and all throughout his story, he kept on saying, “Ang bait talaga ni Lord kasi…”, “Sobrang galling talaga ni God…”, and I was so dumbfounded at how great his faith is, considering that he just lost his father. And I felt so little, so humbled, so embarrassed of my petty frustrations in life. I am already 22 today but I’m still such a child.
And then I went home. I guess I don’t have to tell you that family is usually the core of everything we feel sad and happy about, so I know you’d understand that I’ve been having problems with them lately. I don’t know—no one exactly did anything wrong, and I wasn’t angry at anyone in particular, but I just stopped speaking with everyone at home for the last few days. And my mom was waiting for me at the gate, singing happy birthday, and my siblings were inside waiting for me, the table all set up with food they’ve prepared all morning. The guilt felt horrible in my gut, because I know how bad I’ve treated them for the last couple of days and they still prepared this for me. The things that our proud selves do in keeping us from understanding people who love us dearly! My mom cried in her prayer, and once again, I felt so disappointed with myself for being so immature, for failing to see that they’re suffering too, that they’re also doing their best to reach out to me, that I’m being too difficult and hard to please.
I went to bed early and around 8 pm, I woke up with my two best friends inside my room, laughing, holding a cake with a cuter-than-life Siwon-standee in the dead center of it! I confess that part of what made me not overly-excited about my birthday was knowing that they couldn’t make it this year because of their respective busy work-schedules too. I was so happy to have them there still, despite Cherry being so sick and stressed with her job too, and Ira being sleep-deprived from a 2-straight day shift from her work which is three cities away. My girlfriends are amazing! We spent the hours till midnight just talking and watching dramas. They slept over, and I was awake for a couple of moments watching them two, similarly dog-tired as my own self. And I’ve been praying, thank you Lord, for loving me through this people.
I haven’t opened my Facebook account for ages, and I was so afraid that no one even remembered me. But I still got a hundred or so greetings from all the people I’ve known and been with for how long. I also received heartwarming messages over text from special friends who wanted to send me their greetings the extra mile—even Adrian from Australia called just to say Happy Birthday! It awed me to realize that I am still somehow remembered despite my non-existent social life hibernating for this year.
In the darkness of two am, I was alone with God, and in silence I’ve been thanking Him for everything, for His constancy despite my faults, for His patience despite my shortcomings. And this is certainly the best part of my birthday—coming home to the arms of my maker, the one who saw me before I was in my mother’s womb, the one who holds me all these years, and continually embraces me today no matter how indifferent I have become. And once again I am reminded that at the end of the day, gaano man ako mag-drama, it will still be all about Him: the one whose love made me complete and gave me strength to survive life for two decades and two years.