My birthday falls on the third day of June. Without even realising it, a week has already passed of me being eighteen. 

I always write a post regarding every birthday of mine (I'd written one for my 16th and 17th birthdays each). It still feels so silly yet heartwarming to look back on those two posts I did back then. Everything from how I presented my pictures to how I wrote; it's crazy how much can change within a person in the length of a year. And it feels daunting to be reading those posts and thinking, Man, I had no idea what was coming. In my seventeenth year that had ended, by God's grace, I've encountered some good achievements. Like graduating high school, and getting accepted into uni. Some achievements are more subtle, like learning self-acceptance.

But anyway, this year's birthday turned out to be quite... different. I didn't get to celebrate my birthday in any way. No dinner, no party. I didn't get to spend it with "loved ones", not even my family, I didn't get to spend it at home. All in all, it wasn't necessarily the best birthday I could ask for. But I guess I can still take what I can get. 

When the day arrived, I was still on my trip in Bali with a bunch of my friends, as part of our "farewell" week, I guess you can call it. It was a pretty cool trip and I'll be writing about it on my next few posts (stay tuned!), but if I'm being completely honest, I didn't fully enjoy the fact that my birthday was right in the middle of it. And no, I'm not whining because of the "loss of attention". But for someone who's leaving to study abroad next year, the ultimate thing I wanted for my birthday this year was to be in the comfort of my own hometown, and the family with whom I will soon part ways. But as it turned out, last week, I had neither of that.

There weren't any surprises waiting at the stroke of midnight. In fact, that midnight, most of the friends I was with were tipsy and red-faced drunk in a hotel room (ha-ha). As the sober introvert in the room, having my drunk friends slurring words of "happy birthday" to me at 1 AM wasn't exactly ideal. But I don't blame them, of course, and we still had fun. I won't talk about most of the things I'd seen that night, but long story short, I went to bed around 2:30 AM, and managed to wake up early in the morning. Being earlier than everyone else, I went down and swam in the hotel pool. Alone. And I didn't mind it. In fact, it was exactly what I needed. Enjoying several extra minutes all to myself helped me erase any disappointment and unwanted negativity away from my head. So for a start of the day (my birthday) which I spent far from home, and away from my family, a chance to breathe certainly helped calm me down.

Nobody knew how I felt about all this, but the rest of my birthday was pretty uneventful. My mom (who happened to be in Bali as well) stopped by my hotel, and I needed to hug her more than anything. My friends surprised me for a bit with some decorations and a hilariously ugly hotel cake before we checked out, and it was a mood booster of sorts, and the day went on as it should've. There wasn't a special dedicated Instagram post, and I didn't get that many birthday wishes compared to the years before. Regardless, I was still partly thankful that I made it this far.

Eighteen is an important age. At this age, I'll spend the first half of it living at home, still sitting quietly in my comfort zone, only bouncing between my internship and my side hustle as a photographer, and the next half I'll spend living in a city thousands of miles away far in Australia, starting off as a university student. I couldn't say much about my "goals" in this new age, because I'm still unsure of them, but I could try mentioning a few things I've learned of to this point.
  • I have learned to let go of toxic friendships and relationships. A bold and scary move, but I know that I'll thank myself one day. Don't force yourself to be inside something that no longer nurtures you, and something that no longer makes you feel comfortable in your own being. We live in a big world and letting go will only give yourself room to receive more of what the future can offer.
  • I have learned that no matter how hard we try, we never have 100% full control over our lives. And we need to make peace with the things that are out of our hands. There's an indescribable power in the sentence: "I can't control this, and this is out of my hands. And that is okay. I accept it, and I will learn to live and try my best, despite the outcome. My life is in good hands, and I still have faith in my own future."
  • I have learned to drive my car. Even though I crashed it at one point, which led to an emotional breakdown one afternoon. But still, I drive now. With a license. And I can only get better from here on out.
  • I have learned to acknowledge my struggles. Healing only begins once you admit to yourself that you are hurting. Struggling with anxiety and other disorders has become increasingly hard for me, especially this year. But I try my best to remain positive, regardless of the many times I fail to. I continue to take small steps on the road to recovery, and it's a complex process, but I know it'll be worth it.
  • I have learned to take better pictures and write better stories. I'm not bragging, but I needed to pat myself on the back for improving in something, even for a little bit.
  • I have learned that while many things in my life may crumble and fall apart, the one thing that I must always try to maintain is a strong and good character. In a life where you may lose friends, or certain aspects of your life, the one thing you should never lose is yourself. At the end of the day, your trust should not be in the branches you're standing on, but in your own wings that will help you soar.
I hope you liked reading this, somehow. And I may have a different tone now compared to my 16th and 17th birthday posts, but that's because I have changed dramatically. Not as much outside, but very much inside. And I am not sorry.

Thanks for sticking by.