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happy 18th to me

10th November 2021

Today is my birthday!!

I am unable to express myself vividly. I feel different. It all began last night when my friends came over to surprise me at midnight. I was pretending to be asleep when I heard the tiptoeing from the kitchen. They gently opened the door and screamed, "Happy birthday." I was happy, just happy. Following the birthday tradition, I cut the cake right after making a wish. It was silly but cute how my mother constantly struggled to click the perfect picture of me feeding cake to every person in the room. My mother asked me how I was feeling seeing my friends at midnight. Not wanting to upset anyone, I put up a smile and said, "Thank You guys for being here. I'm stunned". I wasn't surprised, I mean, that’s the bare minimum they could do for my special 18th.

After an hour of prattling and ranting about how monotonous and exhausting online college was, my friends and I decided to call it a night. Honestly, this was my first birthday night where I was more than ever excited and delighted about sleeping. It was slightly surprising how I slept as soon as I hit the bed. I would generally pull an all-nighter for my previous birthday nights, unable to sleep due to the uncontained excitement and curiosity to experience the lavish and incredible surprise parties the following day. Deep down, I was still expecting a day filled with surprises. I am sure the best of all surprises was yet to come.

Contrary to my expectations, my birthday morning began with one of those “nasty fights over a plate of croissants and berries” scenes from the show- Dynasty. I had forgotten it was a weekday. Mom was running late for work already when dad spilled his cup of tea on her brand new Vero Moda jumpsuit. Did they forget that it was my birthday and no one should be fighting, at least not in front of me? I spent the morning with I'm not sure what it is, but I'm assuming birthday blues. It felt like a regular day, I didn't want it to be regular. I discerned that I had a stoic reaction to everything and because of this, the next challenge which was answering countless phone calls and replying to multiple stories and messages on Instagram annoyed me immensely. Everyone had the same thing to say. "Happy birthday, you're an adult finally. 18 is all about freedom!!". Impulsively, I switched off my phone for detoxification purposes. I wish I could send a “Do not disturb” message to all of my contacts.

Just when I was trying to stay miles apart from phone calls, my sister handed me her phone and told me that the call was from him. How cliche of him to call up my sister because I had blocked him everywhere. There was nothing that could convince me to talk to him, not after he ended a two-year long relationship over a text without stating an explanation. Nevertheless, I spoke to him and he wanted to get back together. As far as I know myself, probably even a day ago, I would have willingly gotten back together but today was different. With profound maturity, I made him realise my responsibilities towards myself, which I had never considered earlier. I discovered a better version of myself. I realized how difficult it was for me to refrain from thinking about our relationship and all the opportunities I lost because I wasn’t ready to deal with anything due to sadness when we broke up. I would never, not even in my wildest dreams let those efforts and the healing process go in vain by making myself vulnerable again. Those unpleasant events flashed through my mind. Unusually, I wasn’t furious this time. I felt relieved, as if a burden had been lifted off of me. I guess it was at this instant when I realised that I was adulting.

My 18th birthday didn’t seem exclusive anymore, however, I did. It was as if I had embarked upon a journey of self-love. Being caught up in the moment, I almost forgot about college. I suddenly had so much to do in such a short span of time. I had to beat the clock and shoot a dance routine, decide on a topic for my first article, and complete assignments. With so much on my to-do list, I totally forgot about my special day, MY 18TH BIRTHDAY. All of a sudden, it was just an ordinary day, just like my father perceived his birthdays to be like-regular working days.

Man, was I really adulting?

Exhausted by the completion of all important tasks, I didn’t want to have a grandiose party or step outside the house anymore. I just wanted to be by myself like an old and sweetly-gray grandmother. It felt good to be occupied with significant things. A few minutes after treating myself with a warm cup of coffee, It came to my attention that mom had arranged a surprise birthday party on the terrace and invited my friends over for dinner. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, my friends couldn’t make it tonight. Unusually, I felt relieved. It was an uncanny feeling, as if I was glad about not having to socialize with humans.

Ever since everyone's college began, I lost touch with most of them who moved to different countries and cities as well as those who stayed back. We were all too busy working for a successful career. A year ago, I had become accustomed to hanging out with them every other day and spending my entire birthday with these people, but now I was finding excuses to cancel my plans with them. I realized that I was the one watering a dead plant by always initiating a conversation with my friends. I would be more than pleased with a casual dinner with not one human other than my family.

My family and I had a good time tonight while reminiscing about my childhood memories and eagerly awaiting for what the future holds for me. This dinner was not only a stress-buster but also a moment of realization. I was transitioning from a beautiful, young girl to a mature and self-loving woman. I am definitely going to miss the comfort and nonchalance in childhood and adolescence- watching way too much TV, always getting my way out of every responsibility, taking a day off from school as per my convenience, telling my best friend about my first kiss, and the most important one, believing in forever and that everything will stay the same.

However, I certainly look forward to the independence and excitement of adulthood. Maybe adulting is not as complicated as people perceive it to be. Probably it will be as effortless as sitting with a tub full of cheese popcorn and binge watching FRIENDS on Netflix, simultaneously stressing over waking up at 8 the following day for college; or being exalted about getting your driver’s license. It can be as enjoyable as prioritizing your work and still missing deadlines, or taking advantage of the prerogative to have access to a lion’s share of things in the world. It might be as captivating as having control over yourself and developing the experience to filter the right people from the wrong ones.

Despite the myriad of emotions and experiences that it brings along with itself, I am immensely thrilled to be adulting. This birthday was certainly full of surprises. Throughout the day, I was certainly surprised by unintentionally embarking on the quest to crack the code of adulting, which I eventually did. Although my 18th wasn’t a conventionally grandiose one, it was definitely a memorable one.

Well, this was quite a philosophical manifestation of my not so special day.

Nonetheless, Happy 18th to me :)


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