Just a few minutes ago, my family (in their own individual versions) sang the most famous song on Earth to us. By us, I mean me and my twin sister. Yep. I share my birthday with someone else. In fact, we share our birthday with another person very dear to us. My feelings about that will be something we discuss another time.

They sang Happy Birthday commanding me to be happy. As if them singing it to me will change how I feel, but I stop myself from overthinking.

Right now, I’m giving myself permission to feel happiness. Just happiness. The fleeting kind that feels worthless against pure joy.

It’s my birthday and I’m happy.

But since human emotion is never black or white, but a million shades of gray, I don’t feel all too happy. Fear quickly takes its place.

I know that I write in this blog with a very sure and authoritative voice, but that doesn’t mean that I feel the same way all the time. This is one of the times when I’m scared speechless. I thank God for the keyboard. Now, my stutter’s masked by the Backspace button.

I’m 25. 

It’s usually during my birthdays that I feel the need to look back at the years that passed. I evaluate myself and try to gauge how much I’ve changed. I say changed because I’m honest enough to say that my growth has not always been vertically up. It’s usually just a gentle slope downwards with periodic spikes up.

This year, I refuse to do so.

I’m 25.

I have to stop pining for lost years, lost friends, lost opportunities of my past. Looking back has rendered me very insightful (and sadly, too critical) about myself, but it also diverted my energies too much that I’m frozen.

But before I make the promise to live one day at a time (a promise that I don’t trust myself enough to keep), I want to share a few invaluable lessons I learned the hard way in my past 25 years.

1. You need people and people need you.

It was my mistake to see myself and try to prove myself as self-sufficient. Because of it, I wasted some really good years pulling away from people. I’m weak. I’m not as smart as people think I am. I’m not kind, nor gentle, nor am I always right. But, hey, that’s okay. I learned that showing people that you’re not perfect opens the door for them to fill the gaps. I cannot (and do not want to) be alone.

People also need you. They need me. I am never insignificant in their lives. They might not know it, they might not appreciate it, they may never verbally express it, but as I cannot live without them, they also cannot live without me. That’s not literal, of course, but you get my point.

2. You cannot save everything or everyone, but you can save something or someone.

It hurts me so much to recall the faces of people who asked for my help, refused to ask for my help, and did not really want or need my help but I thought needed my help. It hurts me more to know that most of them still live with the idea, thing, or person that I strongly believed they needed saving from. It hurts to know that no matter what I do, there’s a huge probability that things will not change.

But, that’s just how it is. That doesn’t mean that I cannot do anything about it. Yes, by years of experience, I learned that literally doing anything to motivate people in making the right choices (by my standards, of course) doesn’t always work. Most of the time, this even makes things worse. I’m not saying that I can’t do anything. I can’t and shouldn’t stop caring. Not doing anything is different from not doing everything. I want to choose the latter.

Praying for them is the first option and not the last resort. That’s the best thing I can do anyway. Asking the King of Kings to hold them in his safe hands is more effective than my detailed explanation of which decision is more logical, my carefully designed emotional weaving to urge them to change, or my scary threats of what the future potentially holds for them if they continue.

3. Things rarely go as planned. That’s life. Move on.

Learn to forgive the weather change, the sudden power failure, that annoying little kid, and anything that forced you to take a detour. Those were just moments God used to point you to the right direction.

Learn to forgive yourself for not being pretty, or thin, or smart, or wise. Learn to forgive yourself for not being able to accomplish all your goals for the year. Learn to understand that reality is much harder than that magical world you drew inspiration from when you wrote your lofty dreams. Life is just plain hard sometimes and you’re only human. Your 5-year plan may take 10 years to complete, but that doesn’t mean that you failed. Maybe, you were not yet ready for success. Maybe, the world is not yet ready for you.

 With these three lessons and the couple hundred thousand more that I learned through the past 25 years, I stare at the sunrise then down at the ground where my feet are planted. I promise to look forward, but remember that I cannot get there by looking back and staying still. To get to where I must be, I have to take a step right here and right now.