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It’s my 30th birthday

Happy 30th BirthdayBe nice.

Today’s the day I turn 30. And I am a little nonchalant about the 30 years I have taken to get here. It should be an impressive milestone celebrated with the family, close friends and perhaps a life partner, but all I feel is ‘meh’. While in my teens, I’ve always thought I’d die young.You know, because I’d be living the fast and dangerous rebel’s life.

But the minute I hit 25, my perspective changed to ‘I want to live for as long as possible and to do great things in my life’. So far, I have accomplished the ‘live as long as possible’ bit, but sadly I’m still far away from the ‘do great things’ part and was getting depressed over it.

So what did I do? I Googled about ‘turning 30’. And my best friend did not let me down. In 0.43 seconds, it showed me 234,000,000 results on why turning 30 may not be that bad after all.

Julie Tilsner, who wrote about the subject in her book 29 and Counting, said:

‘Thirty is nothing to be afraid of. You’ve got a whole new decade to work with, and this time you’re prepared! You’re educated, you have years in the workplace, you finally know what your hair will and won’t do. You can still dance on tables, but you have some life experience. Turning 30 is actually a really awesome thing.’

All sounds very positive. So there’s absolutely nothing to feel gloomy or to freak out about.

30 Is Different for Everyone

When I was younger, I’d dream about being an astronaut, or a pilot (much like Tom Cruise from Top Gun. Still a brilliant film and a handsome guy, no matter what anyone says!) or Indiana Jones. Whether I become a lawyer or a doctor, I’d be cool, charismatic and carefree like the heroes I aspire to be.

Then I hit the teenage years and things started going downhill from there. I got mixed up in the wrong crowds, I played truant from school, I ran away from home, I gave up a promising sports career in the national team and I dropped out of school. All before I turned 16. In short, I got distracted from obtaining a good education that would supposedly set me on my path to greatness.

Two years later, I woke up metaphorically from my ‘going-nowhere-in-life’ slumber. I also had my first major heartbreak from a relationship I thought would last forever. I nearly killed myself because of one person, until my mum came home just in time to stop me. How silly, right? I felt stuck working in a restaurant. There is nothing with earning a decent living as a service staff, but it just didn’t feel like I was in the right job, doing the right thing I like. That got me thinking about my life, my future and myself.

I picked up the pieces, bit by bit. I changed to a permanent part-time job at a pub and I signed up for part-time classes to get the necessary certifications to get to the art school I wanted. I even went back to my former secondary school to seek help from my art teacher to improve my portfolio. That was how determined I was.

At age 20, I finally got into the art school I was aiming for. I was taking my car and motorbike licences. I had a relatively cushy part-time job. I met someone new to get over the heartbreak I had been nursing for the past two years. I was popular in school, just like in secondary school. So I was still cool, charismatic and carefree. I was delighted with life.

In the year that I was due to turn 21, I met someone who would prove to be a great love of my life. We spent all our waking hours together and we were inseparable and everyone was envious of us and what we had. There were rough moments. I had the nastiest temper and I was immature. And yet we were together for the next five years, most of which were good and we stuck together through the ups and all obstacles that objected to our relationship. We had a fiery relationship and sparks flew all the time. But it was tough to keep the spark between us alive, and ultimately, it was to burn out like a flame. I had to let go.

In my 25th year on earth, I found a job I enjoyed and something I can proudly proclaim to be relatively good at and skills that have enabled me to earn a decent living. I was a journalist. I’ve always wanted to write for a living and I did. I also met someone I thought I could fall in love with and start afresh in my love life. Well, it started afresh alright, but it wasn’t meant to last because I was still in love with the great love of my life. I couldn’t let go and it took a toll on me. I had volatile mood swings and my behaviour was dodgy. I would have dumped my sorry ass too, now that I am looking back. We spent close to a year together, but the relationship ended and gave me the second major heartbreak of my relatively young life. It took me a year to get over it and dust the debris away. One of the reasons I created this blog was to write about the pain I had inside me. I was broken for a long time, but while learning to deal with the pain, I learned many things about myself and I made some new lasting friendships that helped me through the turmoil I was in.

Soon the year I was turning 28 arrived. And I met someone whom I wanted to give my whole life to make her happy all the time. More than half of the posts published (and set as private) on this blog have been dedicated to her. I have never filled up so much virtual space about someone before. I have no idea if I would ever do (or feel) the same for anyone else again.

Now That I Am Finally 30
Now that I am turning 30, the past no longer seems like a chink on my armour. I get that I may not be as talented, as popular, as good-looking, as famous, as wealthy as other people my age, but it’s okay. I am still special in my own way; I am a little unique snowflake that will just be doing adult-like things in my own time. I may not be a best-selling author or a successful CEO yet, but I am still a success in my own way.

Should I have spent my teens studying hard and get Bs so I could have gotten into a good college? Should I have not spent all my hours on going to dance clubs and drink myself silly? On hindsight, maybe I should have. Should I have done better in art school instead of watching TV and playing Warcraft with my friends and indulging in Football Manager on most of my days? Maybe. But I didn’t, because I have not touched Warcraft or Football Manager since 2005 and I do not regret getting the most joy out of those games, even though I know I was wasting my time.

Yes, there are people who have made millions before they are 25, earn $10,000 a month by 27 or be famous and successful entrepreneurs before turning 30. Maybe I am an exception. Maybe I am on a different timeline from the rest and there is no happiness to be gained if I keep comparing myself with others. Life is not a race. Life is what you make of it and how happy and satisfied you deem yourself to be, not to spend your hours being envious of others.

Our whole idea about life before or after 30 should not be defined by the progress we are supposed to make or terms dictated by society. It doesn’t mean if we don’t realise our potential by 30, we are never going to succeed; there may be pieces of us that take years to gel and make us the successful person we will become.

According to Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, we should live our whole life as if we’re in our twenties. ‘It’s that keep-inching-forward mentality that will allow you to be happy with your choices.’

Yes, I admit I am a little sad at the things I have not accomplished or the stuff I thought I would have achieved by now like being an extremely successful high-flyer, having my own apartment, being with the love of my life and travelling around the world. Maybe I am too old to be an astronaut now. Maybe this is the wrong era to be Indiana Jones. Maybe there were many decisions I could have made to get to a different place from where I am now.

But, have I failed at life? I went from a school dropout to studying part-time for a business degree now (very much like Larry Crowne but without the hot lecturer. Nice movie anyway. Go watch it!). I went from a junior service staff to having a relatively okay-paying mid-level media job I enjoy. I have my health (until the results confirm otherwise) and my parents who love me more than I can ever imagine. I am much more confident now and wiser than in my 20s. I am also more than okay to spend time alone and to enjoy my own companionship. I also value myself more. I imagine life can only go up from here.

I am not sure if I will like the idea of turning 30 at all, but now that I am already here, I might as well enjoy it while it last. After all, there’s still the looming 31 to dread over.

So, I will enjoy the year ahead with as much vigour as a unique little snowflake should, because I am 30 and to hell with the rest of you, I’m gonna celebrate by pampering myself the whole of today.

Because today is my day, and no one can be Me-er than Me. 🙂

And stay tuned for the 30 life lessons I’ve learned from my 30 years.

[Image via Sommecards]

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Holding on

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Szzzzzeeeeeeee… Szzzzzeeeeeee… What’s that sound, you ask? It’s the sound of excruciating agony from hitting the top of my head against the fridge with a really loud impact. I’m sucking air in from the resulting pain now. I can feel a bump forming (or would there actually be a concave wound?!) and the pain is still throbbing. Could I actually vomit, or worse, concuss from the intense pain? I do feel groggy now..

But back to my main point… I suppose the image above kinda hints at what I am thinking of.

No one will ever love you the way I did and I may never love again the way I did. But I am happy and I have chosen to let my regrets go. After all, most people go through life without ever feeling the way we did about each other.

You were one of the best things that ever came into my life and I’d like to think that I was the best thing that happened to you and your life.

You once told me that you became a happier person because of me and I like that, because unknown to you, all I ever wanted was to make you happy. And seeing you smile always made my day. *chios* 🙂

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My 30th birthday is approaching

Hi there! I created this blog post on 16 October and did a draft, but didn’t feel like it was good enough to be published. So I thought I’d give myself one more month to let my thoughts incubate a bit more before I let you read my inner, deepest, darkest, funniest thoughts. Heh.

I know I don’t update this blog regularly as much as I said I would, but there are just times when I don’t know what to write about or that I know what I want to say but I have difficultly expressing my thoughts eloquently. Irony, I know. So I feel that the wisest thing to do sometimes is not write or talk at all if I have nothing to say or can’t think coherently.

So it’s 16/17 November today (depending on which time zone you’re in). And in around 30 days or so, it’d be my 30th birthday. Which means I’ve revolved around the sun 30 times. Mind-blowing, I know.

It’s also Ludwig van Beethoven’s birthday. He would have been 242 years old. Or may have never been born if his mother had chosen to abort him because she was afraid that he’d be disabled, according to urban myths. Thankfully, she allowed him to live and create some of the best classical compositions I’ve ever listened to.

My favourite compositions are Moonlight Sonata and Fur Elise. Have a listen, if you haven’t already. I remember the emotions that overcame me when I first heard them. It was as though I could feel the pain he went through when he could not be with the girl he had loved dearly and because of the love he felt for her, he wrote and dedicated this sonata for her. Lovely.

AND 16 December was also the day when The Boston Tea Party occurred! Ok, that was not so positive. Moving on…

So apparently if you did a Google search, turning 30 is really a big deal for almost everyone. Seriously, there are about 530,000,000 results online helping you dissect why the number 30 is scary. So you’re not alone. There are millions of people who are freaking out just like what you are doing right now. Not me, I am feeling pretty calm.

But I guess the biggest questions on my mind are: “What have I achieved in the past 30 years? What can I be proud of? What should I do from now? Do I have any regrets? Am I happy? Have I fulfilled my life goals? Am I leading a meaningful life?”

OK, now I get why turning 30 can be depressing.

I had two of the most memorable birthday celebrations when I was 28 and 29 with this girl who I think the world of (nearly half of the blog posts here are written about or for her). I try not to let my mind wonder about how my 30th birthday celebration would be like. It’s better to focus on the present for now. And whatever will be, will be.

But just like the quote above, I hope all the wisdom and inner peace I’ve been seeking my whole life, especially more fervently in the past year, will miraculously appear when I finally hit 30. And stay tuned for my upcoming ’30 for 30′ series of posts in the run-up to my big day. Yay.

[Image via The Creative Paige]

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The third book I wrote for you

Hey, this book is for you. Surprised?

This is the third book I’ve written for you for your birthday for the third year we’ve known each other.

When I told myself I wanted to write books and start a popular series like Harry Potter, I never expect to one day create so many books just for you. The first two books were one of their kind, because no one else has them and they were written specifically for you in mind and meant only for your eyes. The books are a condensed collection of our best and happiest moments together each year. I wonder if you take them out and flip through once in a while.

This third book is the same — filled with memories of this year… Of the things that mean a lot to us…

Remember how you’d sleep over at my place and how you’d tell me you can’t sleep and you want a bedtime story? And how I’d be drowsy and half-asleep, but I would still wake up and tell you a story from my imagination?

I always envision these books would be placed by your bed, so whenever you can’t sleep, they would be your bedtime stories when I’m not sleeping beside you that night. And my dream is that I would give you a book every year as part of our tradition, so that one day you can fill a bookshelf with them.

I never took pictures of the books I made for you, but I’ve always taken immense pride in them, because I spend a lot of effort and time on making them beautiful and tailoring them to a theme for that year. Not sure if you noticed it actually… Well, at least I think they are exquisitely designed, since no one else has ever seen them and you’ve never said they look great! Hahaha!

The books are my way of saying how much I love you and how important you are to me. But it has been difficult passing the third book to you since you’ve always preferred to either reject me or cancel on me at the last minute (even though we had arranged to meet beforehand) or have plans already or be working. I don’t know why. Maybe this book is meant to stay in its bag forever. Maybe it’s ok for you that we haven’t seen each other for almost two months now. Maybe I just care too much.

Goodnight, my love. I hope you’re happy wherever you are.

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Oh, the thinks you can think

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According to the trending topics on Twitter, it was Dr Seuss’ birthday yesterday and I hope you had a blast re-reading one of his books or googling his numerous witty quotes.

Dr Seuss has been our favourite author ever since we read “Oh, The Places You Can Go” last year in bed. It was a great morning as we took turns to read the pages each other. And I’ve captured the memory of that perfect morning right here. Reading that blog post again made me smile. She got me this book (pictured above) as one of the numerous gifts for my birthday package and she said it reminded her of me and I love it!

One of my favourite quotes from the book is:

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!

So who exactly is Dr Seuss?

Theodor Seuss Geisel (2 March 1904 – 24 September 1991), better known by his pen name, Dr. Seuss, was a famous American writer and cartoonist best known for his children’s books.

So 2 March was his day and let’s celebrate… With a birthday tweet from funny host Ellen DeGeneres:

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By the way, is it weird if I have been reciting any Dr Seuss books in a Cantonese accent?

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Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

This has been one of my favourite books ever since someone recited it to me one lovely morning. In the middle of snuggling in bed, she stretched out to the bookshelf and pulled out a hardcover book. She was so excited and all child-like, holding the book in her hands.

“Have you heard of this book?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“It’s a birthday book for kids… and I would annoy my sister by reading it in a Cantonese accent.”

And so she did the same thing that morning. Loudly, proudly, excitedly, she recited each word with gusto until she finished half the book. There were suitable pauses, long whispers and appropriate drama. Then it was my turn. And by the time I flipped to the last page, we were giggling like two school kids in bed. It was our new favourite thing to do.

Weeks later, it was her sister’s birthday and she decided to surprise her in the morning by reciting the entire book. As her sister tried to look rapt with attention, I took videos of her hilarious performance. She was so adorable sitting on the sofa in her pjs and looking so serious while reciting the story. That moment, I thought it would be a great tradition to carry on.

So picture me standing right in front of you now. I’m holding the book up proudly and I am going to recite the entire story with a strong nasally Cantonese-accented English, complete with appropriate facial expressions and hand gestures to you. Here goes:

Oh! The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Happy birthday.