On the 23rd of April 2010, I turned 18. People may say that 18 is the year. The big event. The turning point to reach adulthood. This is the culture in Australia, and it is marked with your real IDs to enter the clubs, casinos, or such. Now when you do groceries in Coles or Safeway, you can actually go into the liquor part and buy some drinks there. Back in Indonesia, we have sweet seventeens, which are usually celebrated with big parties and such things. I’m 18 now. And what’s the difference?
As a child I really do like birthdays. 10 years ago I would not be able to sleep properly the day before my birthday, wondering what kind of gifts that I would have; how many dolls, games, clothes, anything, that I would get. My house would be decorated with balloons and ribbons, with a big chocolate cake or cheese cake that had my age number on it. Then there was the blowing of candles. The singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ song. The ‘make-a-wish’ part. The taking of pictures. And the list would go on. Somehow I would find it similar with Dudley in Harry Potter movie (I think it was the Sorcerer’s Stone one), where he calculated the birthday gifts and he wanted more gifts than the previous year.
It was me, on my birthday, 10 years ago, as a child.
On my 16th birthday, 2 years ago, I began to concern about other things, not in the gifts and such anymore, but in appearance. I remembered going to school with a hairstyle different than usual (usual: pony-tail, a bit messy, glasses, and such), and practically just appear ‘neater’ than usual (I guess you would know what that means lol). I woke up ‘till 12 o’clock midnight the night before, wondering on how many people will remember my birthday; how many of them would send me text messages; how many of them would call me and be the first to say, “Happy Birthday”. I would move the ‘birthday messages’ to a particular folder and ‘count’ them, as well as I would constantly check facebook for the birthday wishes.
I went back from school, blew the candles on my birthday cake, and went for dinner to a nice restaurant with my mom and dad. I was happy. But the happiness did not last long. It was all physical. Yes, it was special, but not as special.
Then came my 17th birthday. The birthday that every girl longs for. The culture in Indonesia was to give surprise to every single person that turned 17, and for the girls, it’s time to be a princess and hold a party.
People like surprises. I know I do. But by the time it was my turn, I didn’t know if it was special anymore. It turned into a routine.
But I guess, it’s better to have a routine surprise seventeenth birthday than to have none at all.
I did wonder, and still wonder, on those people who don’t have a surprise birthday party. Do they feel left behind? Do they feel excluded and no one cares for them?
Then came the big party. The gifts. When a person holds a sweet 17th party, they will have lots of gifts. But if they don’t, they will receive hardly any (except for some close friends – maybe).
I held a sweet 17th party that was so special to me. It was the birthday I long for, and I was satisfied by the party I had (not all of my friends were satisfied of their parties. Some even regret for having one). I was very blessed that almost all of my friends did come to my party (out of 70 people that I invite, it was only around 10 or so that did not show up). It was not a big party, and I did not hire an Event Organizer or made my party in a 5 stars hotel ballroom (which I really want before, but then realized it was not worth it). But it was kind of ‘homie’. It was warm, and for me, it was great. I had fun. I saw my friends were having fun with the games and such as well and I felt happy. I had the most fantastic birthday surprise (the sweet seventeenth video that my big siz, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s brother made), and it was magical.
But after a few days, it lost its magic. I didn’t say that I didn’t like it, I did like it, do like it, and will still be liking it for another 10 years. But then, it will just become another memory. I still watch my sweet 17th video sometimes, and I’ll be reminded of how happy I was at my 17th birthday. But it was temporary.
(anyway, this is my sweet 17th video, i love it so much ;))
And this is my 18th birthday.
On my 18th birthday, I had lunch with God.
At this age, I no longer wake up until 12 o’clock midnight or frequently check facebook and text messages or count the number of gifts that I have. I have decided that I am going to give my 18th birthday to God.
It was Friday morning and I went to the university as usual. But at lunchtime and during the free period – I went to the park, sat there, opened my Bible, and wrote my journal. I made my birthday resolutions and I reserved a seat beside me. It was for God.
It was a different experience.
And somehow, more impactful.
I smiled and thought to myself, “Well, if only I can say that I have lunch with God today!” and that’s what I do =).
As I sat there in the park, it began to rain. It was around 1:30 PM and my next tute was at 3:15, so I prayed, “Lord, please, let it rain at 3:15 when I went to my tute.” And that’s what happened!
I was able to sit in that park for another 2 hours before it rained. People will think that it was a coincidence but I would say otherwise. ;)
On the day before my birthday, I have decided to make my first brownies in Melbourne (=p) and then I would give it to the others. My birthday theme for this year is ‘being a blessing and appreciate others’. I went to the church on Sunday and gave the brownies (I really do hope that it is delicious… uh no…) and I gave 18 ‘thank-you notes’ to my church friends. I just hope that they know that I appreciate the little things that they do – it might be just saying a ‘hi’, or giving a ride home, or sharing their experiences of God and such. But I want them to know.
On the 25th of April my sister also has her birthday, and we decided to give free chocolates and candies to small children that we meet. We went to the botanical garden and began to give the chocolates. And man, THAT WAS HARD! Never thought that it will be that hard. It was hard to talk to strangers (and I am calling my self a Bachelor of Arts student that wants to major in Psychology and Media and Communication? Lol). But we managed to give to around 8-10 families, and I was happy that we did. It was quite an experience, and maybe for next time I will give balloons instead (just like what Jaeson Ma did!)
I had a different kind of birthday this year, and I guess it was more impactful than the previous ones ;).