Growing up, we were always told to be brave and to triumph over our greatest fears. But fear, just like its hosts, is ever-evolving. From worrying your classmate might make your crayons blunt to being afraid of getting caught having your first taste of alcohol, I like to think that we are entitled to a certain type of phobia through the course of our evolution. Now, though, on the brink of being an adult (although as I write I already am one), turning eighteen seemed to carry a massive qualm. One that nags at me like I have never been nagged before. Somewhere between found and lost, it was there: the fear of uncertainty.
Hours before my birthday, I was on a plane to Hong Kong. Pensive, I stared outside the small aircraft window. I knew the city lights twinkled under the vast wing of the plane, but that’s not what I saw. Instead, I stared at a girl, her eyes emptied out by confusion. I was leaving as I am, but will I come back the same person? Or will being 18 change me? Ridiculous, I know. But somehow, on the verge of abrupt change, it was reasonable for me to worry if anything had to be replaced along with my previous age.
But if there’s one thing that being eighteen taught me (or reminded me of) so far, it’s that there are some things far greater than your fears. Beyond all uncertainty, there will always be a select few who will outshine the shadows you never thought you could brave.
L-R: Robie, Iya, me, Rae, Coleen, Patty
Since I left for Hong Kong on my birthday (which was on a Sunday), I was so so SO convinced that they had nothing planned out for me anymore — and I didn’t mind because I’m the type to avoid sensationalizing self-celebrations like this. Besides, exams were coming up and even I started getting busy. I invited them for an overnight stay at Sofitel the following weekend anyway, so I guess that would suffice.
I had everything all planned out: first, I’d watch the Pyromusical Competition with Coleen and Patty then proceed to Sofitel in the evening where Iya, Rae, and Robie would be right after another party they will attend to prior to our sleepover.
Turns out they had other plans.
When we arrived at the room, Coleen knocked persistently on the door. I thought it was just her being silly because last I remember, I left the room alone so nobody is supposed to answer from the inside. Suddenly, she stopped knocking.
Girlfriend (by Icona Pop) started playing in the room, and I swear I felt my pupils dilate at the sight of what greeted me when the door opened: pink lights hit the surface of pink balloons that flooded the floor, and through the pink & white strips of crepe that lined the entrance, I saw an “18” post-it formation stuck to the sliding doors (which contain some of the most sabaw pick-up lines ever). I was in a state of awe.
And as if that wasn’t enough, I learned after a short while that they had a mini program ready for me. I didn’t want to have a debut, but that didn’t mean they don’t want one for me: after showing a hilarious (and tear-jerking) tribute video, they sat me down on a chair, placed the cutest crown atop my head, dimmed the lights, and started playing slow songs. Holding a couple of paper flowers, they wore a blazer and slow danced with me one after the other. A makeshift 18 Roses dance — even better than a real program!
pretty paper flowers by the creative Iya
cupcakes c/o Rae; cake c/o Coleen & Robie
My friends also had an 18 Cupcakes segment for me! I’m telling you, they make some of the best pastries ever.
Right before I entered, Iya sprained her ankle after she panicked and fell….for me.
I can’t thank my friends enough for all the effort they put in just to make me feel special on my “birthday.” I love you, TRF! I’ll remember this one forever.
A lot of times, I struggle to find the right words to justify a feeling I never want to forget. Photos and phrases may not have done the job of immortalizing these indelible moments but I guess that’s how you know what the best things in life are: when no form of expression can ever perfectly capture the very essence of how they make you feel.
There will always be a select few who will outshine the shadows you never thought you could defy. And when you find these people, the fear of uncertainty won’t matter. Because when you’re that certain of them, that will be reason enough to be brave.