Beautiful. What exactly does it mean? How do we know if something is beautiful and by which standards do we proclaim the beauty of something? Beautiful is such a relative term that to discuss its meaning is to spend the rest of forever stuck in the middle of the definition with no end in sight. Yet, amidst all these hazy meanings of the word, we still stubbornly declare the beauty of something when it captures the heart and chains the soul. It is with such stubbornness that I declare this day to be extra beautiful for so many reasons.
And so my yearly birthday post is so obviously themed around the word “beautiful” because I’d like to believe that I’ve added one more adjective to describe myself this year: beautiful. I am a beautiful, grown-up woman.
One year after reaching a milestone, it seemed as if nothing has changed. I guess that’s how birthdays go every year. Like we don’t realize we’ve become a year older until a year later when we have to leave behind the “old” age and embrace the new one. Like… I didn’t really fully internalize that I was already thirty years old until I have to turn thirty one today. It is so amusingly confusing. Then again, looking back at past year that I spent being thirty years old, many things have changed. Sometimes, the change came from a conscious effort on my part. Most of the times though, it came completely by surprise.
In the last few years that I spent in my twenties, I actually hated how I look. I wanted to become skinnier, lose the extra weight, be a little fairer, have a prettier set of eyes, get the perfect hair, have whiter teeth, have extra smooth skin… I couldn’t forgive myself for looking so ordinary. Because ordinary is not beautiful and certainly, fat is not beautiful. Yet, when I turned thirty, all of these seemed to be too trivial and too superficial that I can’t believe I’ve worried about it for such a long time. I have come to realize that most people actually look at something beyond physical beauty when they look at you. Sure, the physical attributes cannot be taken away (and sometimes, I still do not like myself for being overweight) but meeting people who appreciate me for things that are far beyond my physical appearance diverted my way of thinking. Because people who truly care about you would not care if you’re a size zero or a size one hundred. They wouldn’t look at the size of your weight but at the size of your heart. Sure there will be days when they would call you out for being a size larger than you were the month before and sometimes they will tell you that you need to lose weight but when all is said and done, they still will see the beauty in you that is beyond skin deep. I am glad and I am thankful that I have these kinds of people in my life. Hearing them appreciate me for something that is inside me brought about a change that I never knew would come. I still strive to lose the extra weight but this time, the inspiration to do so is not for social acceptance but for health reasons. And whether or not I succeed, I’d like to think that this change in perspective contributed to the “beautiful” adjective that I’d like to add to my personal description.
I still strive to be a mature person. In the past year, I have come to realize that not all situation needs a reaction. Sometimes, silence is the best defense. Learning how to talk and when to talk are two things that every person must master. It is in choosing which battles to fight that life separates the champions from the runners-up. Maturity is something that does not always come with age. It comes with experience and open mind. And so I have learned to choose my battles and though I still like to talk and give a reaction to everything, I now value peace of mind over pointless arguments. Maturity is a beautiful thing and it comes with a conscious change to discard old habits and embrace new ones.
I still get stressed out. A lot. More so this year than the previous ones but I now accept that it comes with the job. I now know that when you get too stressed out and the road seemed too long and hopeless, that’s when you call out for help. There is a logical sense to that old saying that no man is an island for no man can survive with just his own companionship. Often times, I’ve cried out for help and I realized that when you’re open enough to accept the assistance from others, you get to filter out who your real friends are. Many will pretend but only a few will prove it. And I still consider myself to be lucky to have found friends who I believe will be with me for the rest of my life. Friendship is always something beautiful.
Love is not though. It hurts, it sucks, it is depressing but it will always leave you with a lesson or two. What is beautiful about it though is finding the strength to hold on and knowing when to let go. Sometimes, letting go is the best thing you can do. Sometimes, giving up is the best favor you can give yourself. Sometimes, strangers should remain as strangers and nothing more. Sometimes, a second chance is more painful. Sometimes, people are stupid idiots and they deserve a full smack across the face. With a hammer. And sometimes, you learn that you are much better off without the company of someone who only loves you when they need something from you.
And so in spite of the violent ending to this post and in spite of its lack of sense, I still would insist that I have gained the adjective “beautiful”. I still hate the way I look from time to time and I still think I have a lot of growing up to do and I still get stressed and I still hate love… but all of those are just part of this whole journey I am going through. Somewhere along the way, I have learned how to be a beautiful individual and I have picked up lessons and learnings and I have built new principles by which I could re-shape my life.
As the most beautiful day in the universe (for me) comes to an end, I declare that I am now a “beautiful, grown-up woman”. I wonder what adjective I could add again a year after.