On Turning 21

Today is the first day of my adulthood. At least, what is commonly known as adulthood.

When it comes to writing, to write about yourself is often the hardest thing to do. The same way you can only see yourself through a mirror or in pictures and videos, you can never discern the person you are from any other perspective but your own, and it is this perspective that often cripples an accurate judgement of self. What people say about you or what you see in pictures and video is really just a distorted version of yourself. So yes, writing about myself right now is really tough. But I owe it upon myself on this day to at least try.

So to start, you have to know that I had not celebrated my birthday for the past four years. Ever since I was seventeen I had been overseas in some way or another, whether it was family or Army. I never really bothered to host a party or anything after I was back and so my birthday went largely unacknowledged for the whole time, only put out in words on a social media post or a casual “oh your birthday past already right?” remark.

Though I would be in Singapore for my 21st, I didn’t want that to change. I believed that birthdays didn’t really mean much, that the celebration of self should be a daily affair, played out subtly and comfortably. I only intended to invite my four close secondary friends and my family to my house with a small cake and some simple food. I never intended for anything great though my friends had been pushing for it.

So when the day it came, I could sense some stirring in the air, that there was something that was going to happen that I was not entirely sure about. There was a lot of wasted time, a lot of dragging me around and I started to think that there may be something going on. I was spending way too much time outside my house and not doing enough inside. My friends assured this was so I could rest as the birthday boy but heck I wasn’t born yesterday. Something was up.

As I was led to my own home, I was (unsurprisingly) blindfolded by Ee Wei and Clement, led into the comfortable space of my living room. As I felt the warm wooden flooring on my feet and some mumbling all around I began to suspect that perhaps everyone was here. I’m totally not ready to face this was really all I could think.

And so with that, the blindfold was taken off.

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Thanks for these bros for organising. Clement and Wang Ren for grabbing everyone and Ee Wei for distracting me though you just had your very own celebration yesterday. (Missing Lin Kyaw!!) Really touched by you guys and I’m confident that no words I type can really justify the love I’ve felt.

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To my family, Grandpa and Grandma, Brother Jaren, Dad, Uncle Pang Liang and Aunty Suzanna as well as cousins Jessica alongside Luke and Alexia. Thanks for being a big part of my childhood and path to where I am now. Thanks for taking your time or going through the trouble of organising this. A big thanks as well to Elsa, our helper, for taking care of every small detail of this party. Also to the woman who isn’t here but planned this all the way from Japan. Thank you mum, for having so much faith in me all these years and letting me do the things I love. Could not have been the person I am today without any of you guys!

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To my extended secondary school friends, thanks so much for sticking with me though the years. Whether it’s in the classrooms, playing poker, talking for hours about the years that have passed, I’ve never had a dull moment with you guys. As Ee Wei put it, “spending the entire weekend together really reminded me of the good old days”. They are days that will never fade away thanks to you guys.

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To my JC friends that have come from every facet, be it track , house council, my form class or friends of friends, I’m so thankful you all made time to come down. JC is the sort of place where a lot of hi-bye friends are made and I’m just glad that it wasn’t that way for most of us. You guys have made those crazy two years a lot more bearable and for that, I am blessed.

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Army friends! You guys are seriously one of the few people on this earth that I can just say anything and everything to and laugh along to the strangest and most visceral memories, knowing that none of us would judge the other for it. I guess thats the beauty of such tough experiences, that it has bounded us closer together. For that, I’m so glad you guys were here to spend this moment with me and I really wish you all the best in you future endeavours, and hope that we won’t only be seeing each other during reservist!

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And lastly, I want to thank my brother Jaren for getting this card. I’m a words person and so reading through the entire card the next day made me really touched and excessively moved. Everything that had seemed so unreal was suddenly and violently anchored down by your kind words and it led me with excessive speed, straight down to earth.

Thank you for coming and thanks to those that had wished me as well. It really made for a special day in an age where special days are becoming so hard to come by. To say I am touched would be the ultimate understatement.

Thank you, and I hope to see everyone soon 🙂

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