A Birthday Gift To Myself

This began as something else, but I realized for my birthday I’ve simply given myself the gift of taking some time to nurture my hidden passion of writing. I hope you enjoy.

Birthdays… are weird. Society has decided we all should celebrate every moment anyone ever had as a newborn being ejected out of their mom’s vagina or the moment the doctor carried their newborn baby body out of her abdomen. It’s an interesting concept, but who doesn’t like presents and a good excuse for everyone in your life to wish you well for 24 hours?

I’m turning 21 in about 8 hours, and I’ve been anticipating this day for a while. It is the “big 21”, but honestly I don’t really want to have the spotlight on me. I just want to spend time with the people who make me laugh and help me feel happy despite my social anxiety. I also want to eat some of my favorite foods of course because food is just amazing. Some friends have already offered to take me out during winter break and make plans to hang out, and for that I’m already incredibly grateful. 

Last year, I had an incredible 20th birthday, and I was at the peak of my life. But this year, I just don’t have the confidence and finesse to pull off another great celebration. I want it to be lowkey and just focusing on being content and appreciative of what I have.

I recently watched Ariana Grande’s speech for Billboard Woman of the Year, and she’s just amazing (link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh_5apkktqM). She is hilarious, first of all, because she kept saying “Ew. I’m crying. That’s really stupid. That’s so annoying. Stop. That’s really gross. I’m not gonna do that” or at least something to that essence. She’s so cute and funny yet so strong. But also I can relate so much. I really don’t like crying in front of people either because it usually makes them uncomfortable, and I’m too considerate of others to let that prolong for very long. However, recently I did break down and cry with a friend who gave me a much needed warm embrace, and it actually felt pretty good. Maybe I’ll try to do that more. 

Second of all, she mentioned that although she seems to be king of the hill in terms of career, she doesn’t know what the fuck she’s doing with her life in terms of personal life and that that ‘s okay. And yeah, I really don’t know what I’m doing with my life in general. I’m on a particular path academically, but I’m slowly discovering passions and interests that lie off this path like my passion for mental health awareness or my passion to help women everywhere become more understood and find equality or my unfed passion of writing.  I want to be a writer… I think. I’ve never materialized that statement, but now I have and I’m confused on whether to leave the path I’m on and sacrifice the last few years or if I should just feed this passion alongside my pursuit of a reliable and sustainable STEM career. Who knows what will happen. Not me that’s for sure. 

Third,  she said that she wants to learn to give herself the love and forgiveness that she so “frivolously” gave to the men in her past, which is just so important. Forgiving yourself for your mistakes, faults, and insecurities is so essential to the journey of self-love. Embracing every crack and scratch in your personality, soul, and being will lead to an easier and happier life. I’ve learned and unlearned this a million times. It only gets easier incrementally because it’s something you have to do over and over before it feels like less of a chore. I’ve worked on myself physically by going to the gym and attempting to eat better. I’ve pushed myself to reach out and hang out with friends I’ve lost touch with in the past few months. I’m trying and that’s significantly better than giving up. 

Lastly, she mentioned that she’s figured out that what makes her the happiest are the things and people she already has. The people who have always been around in her life are the ones that contribute to her truest happiness. I feel ridiculous to ever complain about how difficult my life can feel because looking at my family life, my socioeconomic status, my ability to go to university, and the friends that I’ve made through the years… it’s wild that I would ever feel like that’s worth giving up for the sweet release of death where my problems would supposedly “dissolve”.

But that’s why mental health is such a huge topic in our society now. Most of us have more than enough to be thriving in life, yet somehow more of us are making ourselves face the decision of continuing to live our blessed lives or escaping from all of the unexpected problems that come with having everything you need in life.  We need to remember to be grateful and appreciative of what we already have instead of constantly wanting more and more things and entertainment to keep us distracted from how empty life or our very soul can feel. Being content is simple in phrasing, but complex in practice. I do ask that once you can put that into practice, keep the people who live below sufficient means in mind. It’s absolutely insane to me that so many people live in excess while others are simply just trying to survive. I can deep dive into that topic another day. 

I really went off haha. The point of this post is learning to be content and appreciative. During this 20th year of life I started on top of the world, and I felt really good with where I was. However, as the year progressed I’ve slowly unlearned how to love myself and create a sustainable happiness which I loudly preached in some of my first blog posts. I’m learning once again, and I have a feeling I’m gonna learn it differently from different people with different perspectives. I’m so excited for that. Life has many ebbs and flows, and sometimes you just have to learn to go along with it otherwise you’ll drown. That was cliche as well as dark, but that’s what you get when you peak into the mind of Tina Phan. 

I love this. I love writing and putting my thoughts into actual sentences. I love the fact that I can grow and become a new person in the next year, and I can come back to read this again and realize I always knew I would get to where I want to be eventually. This post is mostly for my peace of mind, but if you end up reading this, first of all, thank you so much for taking any time of your day to get to know me. Also, I hope you’re happy or at least trying and learning to be. We all deserve a little happiness in a beautiful, cruel, confusingly complex world. 

I wanted to write my own birthday card, so that’s what will be below. You don’t have to read it, it’s mostly for me. Hope you have a good day if you decide to stop here 🙂 

Dear Tina, 

Happy 21st birthday you loser lol. You’ve gone through many ups and downs lately, but you always bounce back somehow. I’m so proud of you for that. Anxiety is something I think we’re gonna have to live with for the rest of our lives, but I think we can gracefully make it something manageable and a source of inspiration for writing and poetry. Thankfully, this semester was the least stressful you’ve ever had, so you can even have time to write or blog. You really should be studying haha, but I think this will be worth it. 

I’m proud of you for prioritizing your physical health. I remember we watched that video over the summer when you considered to take all those pills in an attempt to incapacitate yourself, and lady in the video said that a foolproof way to help yourself out of depression is to exercise. It was surprising, but life changing advice. You’ve attempted to be sustainable in your health with weird diets and boring physical activity, but this time I think you have a method that works. Emphasize forgiveness and moderation because you know your girl loves her sweets and baked goods every now and then. Finding workouts you actually enjoy and really feeling that flex in your legs and arms while working out has been amazing and keeps you coming back. I still kind of hate cardio, but I still should do it for my heart health. But yeah, learning to focus on becoming physically stronger healthily has improved my mental health in a unique and impactful way. 

I’m proud of you for growing some of your most important friendships and being open to really wonderful new ones. I know you haven’t felt good about abandoning or just not nurturing all the good friendships in your life, but honestly that’d be overwhelming to handle for now. You’re working on it now, and that’s what matters. It’s easier to focus on a few important relationships and friendships anyways rather then every single one you have in your life. 

I’m also proud of you for dating. Wow, dating is so weird lol. I’m proud of you for being smart enough to not put yourself into outrageously sketchy situations. I’m proud of you for being open to conversations and even going on dates. It’s honestly been fun for you it seems, and that’s wonderful because you deserve some fun. In a weird way, it has boosted your confidence in viewing yourself as a attractive human in terms of physical appearance and personality. You deserve to take pride in the body you’ve worked on, and you deserve to believe you’re someone worth getting to know. 

A huge important lesson from all of this is that you deserve love, Tina. I know you spent years believing you don’t deserve love, romantic gestures, or attention. It breaks my heart to remember you crying in bed at the thought of believing no one will ever love you. To remember you reminiscing and rationalizing boys’ behavior towards you with the idea that you’re not wonderful and amazing enough to be loved like that. But you are. One day, you’ll find a guy that will love you like no other. Remember, Bryan said, “Dude one day you’re gonna find someone. They’re gonna be like Tina Phan is the most amazing and beautiful person ever”. (I get to see Bryan, my cousin, soon after his army training, and this just makes me more excited to see him.)

You deserve to be loved. You are worth all the effort and all the trouble it takes to love you. One day, you’ll find someone. In the meantime, just keep working on you and making yourself even more amazing than you already are. I love you, Tina Phan. I will learn to love you 100% before I let anyone else do the same, the exact same: 100%. Also, according to Daniel Sloss, don’t forget that if someone chooses to love you 100%, then  they also deserve to be loved 100% for who they are too. Otherwise, it just doesn’t make sense to love one another for anything less than who they are. (I highly HIGHLY highly recommend watching Jigsaw by Daniel Sloss. Apologies in advance if your relationship ends because of it. If it does end because of a comedy show, then it was meant to end eventually. That’s the tea, sis.)

Also, I just want to remind you to laugh and smile more. Take life a little less seriously, and have some fun. You deserve to let loose, and appropriately you can now legally let loose with friends in new ways haha. Work really hard of course, but live a little, yaknow? I hope you have a birthday where you at the very least eat good food, are with good friends, and get to laugh a lot. I hope you understand one day that you deserve so much happiness and more in your life. 

Lastly, WRITE MORE. This was a purge of emotions from your head, mind and soul, and it felt so good. You know writing is a secret passion, but now maybe it should just be a passion you share and nurture. I have a feeling that the more you write, you’ll learn how much of you there is to love. Your writing is one of the fewest pieces of artistic expression you’ve ever been truly and genuinely proud of. Follow that calling, and I hope it brings you wonderful opportunities and life experiences. 

Again, happy birthday girl. I’m proud of you.


Tina Aivi Phan 

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