So my birthday came and went quietly, peacefully, with a few well-wishers wishing me a happy birthday. Thank you guys: Rachel, Charles, Joey and Cindy for remembering, as well as Ming Han, my mom and Aunty Amy in Singapore, and Choops in Aussie. Thanks to Leon for bringing me to this awesome Memphis Blues restaurant to feast on meat, something I'd never do regularly.. 4 days later, I have some thoughts. (Yes, I'm very slow.)
I deliberately removed my birth date from Facebook, but I forgot about it on my Blogger profile, therefore, Charles managed to find it in the end, and, together with Joey, they both wrote me a card.
Charles wrote something that struck a chord with me deeply:
"I suppose somewhere along the way of you living independently, birthdays hardly matter as a milestone of development and maturity. You've found work that you love and are already more than capable of setting and achieving your own explicit goals." [Btw, Charles wrote the "E" in my name as a Σ. So typically him. ;-)]
I guess I'm not too sure what "explicit goals" means, but I realized that I've transformed quite a bit. I guess not wrt. birthdays - since I was 14 I've never really wanted any party. All I wanted was my chance to get to eat 2 eggs rather than 1 in the morning, which only occurred on 26 July of each year. Then my classmates would give me a card, and the day would be over quickly.
So, as people may be wondering, on July 26 2007, what did I do? Just another work day, to start. I went to work earlier, because Tim (our PhD student in the lab) and I had stuff to do earlier in the morning, I think. 4 days later on, my memory gets a little gray-ish. But I remember helping out Valeria (our post-doc in the lab) until late - I was doing lots of pipetting and preparing the cells for something else. Thankfully I didn't screw up. I didn't get off at my usual 4.30pm, but rather at 6.00pm. It was fun, though. Another day where I get to apply my knowledge. Then I had dinner and dessert with Leon, and then I looked at the digital SLRs. That's about it. Worked well for me.
Amidst the silence and peace that I get when I don't do any big major partying, I get reflective. Which, I guess, is a good thing. Let's me look back on my life a bit more.
Over the year, I survived Science One, and graduated as an official Science One survivor. I then moved on and screwed up 3 summer courses by deciding to take them all at one go, leaving me not enough time to study for them, and with a bigger gap to fill up for next year's MBIM admissions process.
I made awesome friends in SciOne: top of the list include Charles, Joey, Cindy, Rachel, Si Rim, Sally and Matt, the latter four also part of our in-house Totem Park Musical. May the bunch of us always keep in touch. And to Si Rim and Rachel - WE NEED TO JAM AGAIN.
I became environmentally conscious, and now I intend to make sustainable living a part of my new life at Thunderbird Residence.
By a stroke of luck's big brush, I got a summer research student position at the BC Cancer Research Center, in the TFL's Takei Lab, where I'm being trained and learning more about immunological research. I hope they let me stay on during the winter session - I so totally would, if only Dr. Takei would nod his head.
I learned a lot of life's lessons. Tolerance, effectiveness, fear (in a positive sense), and most importantly, humility. Learning is one thing though. I sometimes wonder if I'm applying them in my daily life, and living out those lessons properly.
I defined my university career goals and life goals properly. I want to be a scientist, to discover and develop a broad-spectrum cancer treatment that targets cancer cells without targeting body cells.
I have enjoyed the company of friends, of visiting their families and homes. I have discovered the hospitality and compassion that they and their families have shown towards me, and I am appreciative of that. Thank you Rachel, Charles and Cindy, I really enjoyed going over to your places. JOEY, YOU'RE NEXT!! =P
I have learned how to cook properly. Well, maybe not properly, I guess. But at least decently, such that I can survive on it. A summer worth of cooking, plus the lessons I learned from so many people - Aunty Mei, Uncle Poh Bin, Chen Bin, Leon, Junning, Zhang Yi...
Random thoughts galore. But I guess none of this has anything to do with Charles' statement, no?
Actually not. These milestones never occurred on 26 July of any year. These milestones always occur throughout the year. They served as more important reminders than my birthday did. I guess it's because nothing really striking or groundbreaking occurs on 26 July. Then again, I never did record the dates of when I felt I learned something from what life had to offer, so the process isn't discrete for me, it's continuous.
That's what I've been reflecting, both subconsciously and consciously, over the past few days.
I'm 20 now, 1 year older than most people in my graduating class. Nobody at Staples believed that I was only 19 when I worked there, and I guess nobody now (except for people that know me) thinks that I'm only 20 years old.
I guess I'm just old.