Eighteen

My body was ready for an early start of the day, 6:30 PM – no alarms this time, naturally awaken by a thought that rushed through my head like an epiphany: I’m finally 18. Now what? Hold on, scratch that – So what? April 3rd was another day to ace another national standardized test AND nail it – it was not exactly the most ideal day to celebrate (honestly?) anything. Sure, there were enough notifications of birthday wishes on my phone screen as soon as I held onto it that made me smile, but other than that – nothing seemed all that different.

I stumbled downstairs to find a coffee-drinking dad and a housekeeping mom welcoming me to my new day of age. Despite it being another day for a national exam, I didn’t have to worry about waking up as early as I’d normally do given the assigned 2nd shift my class was assigned to in regards of a computer-based test that needed turns in terms of use. I opened the fridge to find a bag of fresh toast dad originally bought for me last Sunday. Long story short, I ended up with a fried toast cooked together with a poached egg just at the center of it on my breakfast plate. Nothing like a decent self-cooked personalized platter to devour in means of welcoming my body to this supposedly fresh 18-year-old self.

Cutting to the chase, I arrived at school an hour early before my actual test, like I always do in days like this. I spent the entire time at the library, reading a solid chapter of Matilda by Roald Dahl and talking to my school librarian about my ongoing personal project regarding humans in Surabaya. As the clock stroke 10:00, it was time to bid farewell and rush myself upstairs to class. I was all cheery for the fact that almost everyone from every corner of the room threw birthday wishes at me – huh, I guess the day wasn’t so bad after all.

Later I was congratulated by my homeroom teacher (for perhaps the third time that day) for turning 18 – heck, he even mentioned me during the midst of his devotion prayer that morning, and handed me a lovely life-devotion book for my birthday present. Then again, I supposed the day just escalated even more than I’d internally expected.

After logging out of my exam account, I was kind of looking forward to going home to treating myself with another short marathon of Madam Secretary before heading out for an interview with my 11th grader later at 4 PM, that is – not until I was being intentionally distracted by a friend of mine showing her latest incoming customized-graphic-design platform project, when I saw that my group of friends were entering the room singing happy birthday whilst carrying a 4-lit-candle tiramisu birthday cake, and 2 silver letter balloons of my initials. 

Yet of course, being me and my little-to-no self-awareness on how much of a fool I might have looked like back then, I got eager – showing it by consciously smiling goofily as I encouraged them to take a group photo together to commemorate. As it turned out, there were apparently quite the number of people who couldn’t make it to the scene, but nonetheless, I’d reckon this was more than enough to crack the silly grin out of my face that day.

The crowd had to go home eventually, so it was just me waiting for my school driver to pick me up – we have been conducting decent conversations with me occupying the passenger seat recently, which should be one of the few last things I’ll cherish before actually graduating in a few weeks.

The next few things that happened won’t really require much descriptive detail, so I might as well just get right to it by compiling a list:

  1. I took care of myself by completing a 30-minute exercise after indulging on another self-made poached egg and fried toast fiesta for lunch.
  2. I watched a quarter episode of Madam Secretary, then fell asleep.
  3. I requested an Uber to pick me up for a meeting with my interviewee in Starbucks for another refreshing Surabaya Tells interview session (which went lovely).
  4. My family took me out for dinner at a new dinosaur-themed burger joint in town – had the loveliest time together waiting for our food to come out (which was worth the wait, by the way), and just spent the rest of the evening together talking to each other.

In some way or the other, this was not the best birthday I’ve had so far – I’m not whining about it being in the middle of a national-standardized test week, but rest assured, it did feel nice to celebrate a little in the end.

17 was bound to be one of the ages that I will always look back on countless times, considering the fact on how much I’ve grown (on the inside, and a little taller on the outside too), and gathered myself emotionally. The journey of self discovery within passion and purpose were also one of the silver linings I’d mention this year. Along with a long-term reading (and writing) slump, a family trip to UK, a regional international relations themed debate competition, an uncalled interest in ancient WW II history, a once never-ending preparation for a mystery-themed musicale performance, productive relationships, unexpected bona fide friendships – trust me when I say mentioning these weren’t as light and heartwarming if you aren’t experiencing it yourself, BUT HEY, I finally made it. I’m 18 now. Still growing, still (slightly) rebelling, still garnering the good stuff as I go, and still in for the fight to serve those in need around me with what I can – while I still can.

 So this is me – Janice, writing again after a long hiatus to update that she is grateful for all there is that’s happened on her birthday, and that she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

See you around?

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