The Surprises All Around Me

In the most splendid, surprising manner, my 25th birthday was spent.

It was supposed to be a quiet dinner for four. School assignments, exams and work kept me too busy to host a party with all my friends.

The day started out normal, albeit with sunshine. I went to school to settle in for a day’s studying, but was unceremoniously interrupted half an hour into my study session by a friend who came with an offering of an adorable pot of pink blossoms. We jostled back and forth about Chinese politics, environment v. economy dichotomy, and the American empire over some amazingly authentic bubble tea. It was the kind of bubble tea that tasted like home.

Lunch flew by in flashes of green lawns, German birthday songs, sunlight on my face and pigeon dances. The day then came to a close in a blink of an eye, with me hitting the treadmill. By 9pm, it was time for that small dinner with four.

The day’s sporadic and unforeseen little sputters of magic began to boom into greater and larger fireworks. First, dinner for four turned into six as two more people from my programme joined in surprise.


By 11pm, the delicious dijon mustard salad and homemade quiche were devoured and I was ready to take my second trip to the bathroom.

When I came back, all seven of my flatmates had joined in, holding in their hands three cakes, flowers, and a birthday card which I could not stop laughing at.


They had all signed it with heartfelt and hilarious messages. I had tried hard to keep the happy tears from flooding my face, embarrassing myself and making it awkward for everyone.

And so it was, that a quiet, small dinner for four, turned into one of the most wonderful birthday experiences. While everyone cheerfully chirped away at each other, getting into light and deep conversations of their own, I looked around and couldn’t quite believe the astonishingly kind, open-minded, and inquisitive human beings whom have added so much colour and dimension to my life.

“You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

What extraordinary fortune and privilege, to be surrounded and shaped by such driven, generous, hilarious, and inspiring people. People whom I can call friends. People who care about me. People who are just as weird and silly as me. People who accept me, as loud and emotional and crazy as I am. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Thank you for the late night conversations. Thank you for the company on long walks. Thank you for ideas that sparked papers and kickass presentations. Thank you for lunches in the park and dinners that are never eaten alone. Thank you for the comfort and courage when the gloom seemed never-ending. Thank you for the laughters that took my breath away.

On days when the world is merciless and people are cruel, please remember that you are one-of-a-kind, beautiful in every sense of the word, and so incredibly accomplished and fiercely intelligent. That is how I see you now, and how I will remember you for years to come.

Let’s finish this year with a bang!




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