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6th June 2012 is the day I celebrate a milestone birthday – my eighteenth. Herein onwards on all my birthdays will I be an adult and somehow that makes me a little sad. For as long as I can remember I wanted to be an adult. For some odd, inexplicable reason I thought that when I would turn eighteen I would have the solution to all of life’s problems. I believed with full faith and utter certainty that at 18 my life would be perfect; I would be an educated, independent working girl with at least two degrees to her credit. In retrospect a somewhat unrealistic proposition, at age 10, however, as plausible and real as Matilda’s magical powers.

Now that my birthday is less than a week away, I seem to be almost dreading it. And that comes as a huge surprise not only to me but to my family as well because I have always awaited and celebrated my birthday with great fervor and exuberance. Perhaps the reluctance and melancholy has to do with the realization that I have been unable to achieve all that I thought I would before I turned 18. For the first time in my life, I am regretting not being able to make use of time to its fullest. On the achievement barometer, I am somewhere close to the bottom – there has been no substantial progress in the last two decades of my existence; I let that time pass me by and it makes me so mad at myself. Mad enough to make myself depressed. I am nowhere near

I am a staunch believer that celebrating birthdays is not merely a convention. Birthdays are occasions to celebrate one’s growth, maturity, and development. Birthdays remind us that the gift of life is the most precious and important one. Thus, they are generally associated with celebrations; partying, receiving good wishes and gifts, holidaying without any care in the world. However, this particular year I’m feeling pensive; my 18th birthday is making me pause and think about that gentle nudge of the clock that keeps moving me forward, ever forward. This year it is the catalyst that is making me stop and ask these questions: What have I accomplished over the past year? What have I done that would make me proud? Am I more successful today than I was last year at this time? There is no definite answer to the aforementioned questions. However, I can say with certainty, that the journey from 17 to 18 has made me a better person; it has helped me explore myself; it has made me aware of my strengths and weaknesses and that in itself, is no small feat. I have found amazing friends, this is to you, Amal, Mahin, Amina and Zunaira.

I may not have accomplished all that I thought I would by the time I turned 18 but starting today I’m going to do what I can to get closer to my dreams and goals. I’m going to appreciate life more and give it the respect it deserves, not just for me, but for everyone who no longer has this luxury. And when I blow out my candles this year, I’ll make a wish that every year that I’m alive is better than the one before – I am going to make my birthday a reason to celebrate. And I’m going to face it the way I have always done, with laughter and excitement at all that I have yet to accomplish and all that I have to look forward to in my life.

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