I turned eighteen on the 27th. Didn’t do much on the day, but was surprised with a wonderful party by my friends at my house which was so touching.
Today, though, I decided to take myself on a little date and kinda just enjoy my own company for a bit. Also I wanted to get out of the house because I could slowly feel my skin grafting onto my bedsheets.
So my mum kindly drove me to this place in town with one of my favourite bookstores, Kinokuniya, armed with my Kanken bag and $100 in angpow money kindly given to me by my grandmother.
It was in a really upscale part of the city, and I didn’t really realise how underdressed I was until I stepped through the doors in slippers, a school shirt and shorts.
I decided to ignore this and headed straight to the bookstore and spent a solid two hours there, just reading and enjoying the books and the atmosphere in general.
Of course, I spent most of my $100 getting some books.
3/5 of them are by authors whose books I’ve never read before (with the exception of Jane Austen and Edgar Allen Poe), so quite happy.
I’ll do a little run-through of the books now.
Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
Jane Austen is one of my favourite writers- I mean, she’s up there with Dickens for me. In my opinion, she was a female writer ahead of her time- in a period of history where her sister authors were writing what were deprecatingly referred to as “novels”- a word that had very negative connotations because it referred to books that were considered “flighty” (basically, probably every romance novel today) and unworthy of being read by those who knew better, she wrote realistic and believable prose that managed to both separate itself from the over-romanticised and dramaticised love stories that saturated the market (think: The Monk) through its matter-of-fact portrayals of love and romance, while simultaneously supporting the rising genre of the “novel” which was not held in high esteem by the highly-educated and stiff-upper-lipped in English society. This is especially apparent in Northanger Abbey, which I am not ashamed to say I have read over twenty times.
Edgar Allen Poe, Tales of Horror
I believe there was another anthology of his called Tales of Something Else but I really can’t remember the name at the moment. It’s basically a collection of Poe’s short stories. I read some in comic version years ago in the children’s section of my library and I loved it, so I decided I would give it a try again in straight prose.
I’m someone who isn’t too fond of change, so I re-read the same books over and over again until they are literally in tatters. I just find it comforting to have the familiar plot play out, in the words that I’ve long memorised. Gives me a sense of security, I suppose, because in that few hours of reading I am absolutely sure of the future.
W. Somerset Maugham, The Merry-Go-Round
No idea who Maugham is, read the blurb, read the first paragraph, and decided I rather liked it and it was coming home with me.
N.B.: I was looking it up and I nearly got a heart attack when I read a review of the exact edition that I have which says that it’s not complete and the actual book is 400 pages long. Did I just get an abridged version? Quelle horreur!
Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
It sounded like a very interesting premise, with a highly intelligent child and the murder of a dog involved. Although I am and can relate to neither of those elements in the novel, I found them very interesting and unique while still being realistic. I’m not usually one for high-fantasy or Sci-Fi or things like that, I like books that are based on and in real life on earth. Just personal preference, but I’m really trying to get into more fantasy novels lately like Lord of the Rings and the Song of Ice and Fire series. Plus I really liked Ready Player One which Booktube recommended to me. So I’m making progress!
Anthony Mara, The Tsar of Love and Techno
I’m actually super interested in both Russian culture and history so if I see the word “Tsar” on the cover of a book I’m definitely going to check it out.
Now, after enjoying one of my favourite meals (Vegetarian Aglio Olio from this pasta place called Once Upon a Thyme, $6), I read a bit of Mansfield Park and am now studying.
Some might call it a boring way to spend an eighteenth, but I’ve never been one for huge birthday bashes. I do appreciate them, but mostly for the time I get to hang out with friends. Personally, the idea of having a “Sweet Sixteenth” or a really crazy, alcohol-filled “legal” birthday celebration isn’t very necessary, if you’re having one just because the movies and pop culture told you to and not because you genuinely want to. But if you want to go ahead and make your birthday special, by all means! It’s just not really for me. Everyone has their own ways of celebrating.
Also, as I type, the sun is shining like crazy outside but it’s also raining. The person who came up with the idea to dub dark, cloudy, gloomy days “bad weather” has obviously never been in a sunshine-y thunderstorm, because those are the worst. In a normal thunderstorm you’re at least able to snuggle in your blanket and drink hot chocolate and be all poetic about the weather. But there’s nothing poetic about a sunshine-y thunderstorm. It’s just hot and wet and you can feel the humidity on your skin- the most accurate description I can come up of what being in a sunshine-y thunderstorm is like is, that it’s kinda like being doused by a bucket of lukewarm water while stepping into equally lukewarm puddles while wearing dry socks. Plus you’re inhaling steam with every breath. And you’re sweaty.
Basically, it really, really sucks.
Overall, though, it’s been an amazing day. I’m home now and I feel really happy and satisfied with what I did, and even if other people may not have chosen to spend their birthday/money on the same things that’s fine because spending some time alone made my birthday special to me.
I guess something I wanna say in this post is, don’t be afraid to hang out with yourself once in a while. If you don’t feel like you need to have an extravagant birthday party every year, if you don’t feel like you have to go out with 90278298 friends every time you leave the house, don’t do it just because it’s the “socially acceptable” thing to do.
And yes, there is a sort of- well, I won’t say stigma, but it’s more of an unwritten societal rule that it’s weird to hang out by yourself. It’s weird to walk into a restaurant and get a table and a fancy dinner for one. Passer-bys unconsciously give people who are sitting alone pitying looks. I felt weird the first time I decided to walk into a restaurant and get a table for one as well, but after a while I realised: if I’m so dependent on other people to have fun and be happy, can I really call myself a confident person?
Part of learning to love yourself is learning to be alone. Sure, some thrive on company and friends and I, being a more extroverted person, certainly do. I just think that we should be able to say, “I love my friends and am blessed and thankful to have them, but I don’t need the presence of others to find myself interesting, smart, clever, or to feel appreciated or wanted, because I as a person am inherently all of those things.”
So yeah! Some thoughts on my birthday date with myself. I hope this kind of inspires someone to take themselves out as well! Let me know if you do end up trying it 🌸