‘I will not be here on my next birthday.’


Birthday is my favourite holiday. Not just mine, everyone’s. This is the one day when you can really be the center of the universe.

Exactly this time last year, even though birthday is a joyful occasion, I had rather gloomy birthday and not so pleasant wish.

One year later. Tomorrow is my birthday.

Did my wish come true?


Well, physically, I’m still here. The place I made the wish.

Though, I can proudly say, it did.


The reason why I determined myself was because I wanted to be happy. What’s the point to do anything, if you are not happy? Yes, I wasn’t happy. However, it was me, who made the choice in the intersection of the life, so I didn’t want to regret and beat myself up with it. But I failed. I couldn’t fool myself anymore. Happiness cannot be given. I’m reading The Geography of Bliss at the moment, and yes, some of the foundation is given without your will, but individual makes the greater possibility. Like the author said, “We can stretch ourselves in new and rewarding ways.”


So, I took a leap. For my happiness. To make my life more meaningful. Wherever the direction was, either forward or backward, or even parallel, I did it.

I jumped.

From working in the office 12 hours a day and blogging at night to blogging and social networking all day, from wearing suit and high heels everyday to wearing jeans and sneakers, from reading ASME code book to reading The Geography of Bliss, sitting in the dark and stuffy office to working wherever I want and from getting a big fat paycheck every month to nervously checking my PayPal account. Everything changed, and this has been a wonderful journey.


Walking on lonely road


So, looking back, and question: Are you happy?



Well, I’m scared. Everything scares the crap out of me more than anything in my life.

The reason? The uncertainty.


I’m scared because I’m worrying about; what if I fail.


What if I fail while making all the choices? I don’t have a job security anymore. Everything is on me and frankly, I’m not sure if I can afford failure. What if I’m not that talented as I thought I would be? What if I’m really not a special person at all just like my own father said?


As a traveler, I consider what I do is a journey to find the place I can call ‘home’. Finding the place I feel like home, and be with the person who completes the place as a home. What if I can’t find any of them?

What if sometime later when I look back this very moment, and realize this was the biggest mistake of my entire life? What can I do then?


Though, this is not me, insecure person who are overly worried about everything. I’m a believer. This is the greatest quality I have. That’s why I could take a big step without questioning myself. I believe serendipity. I believe the goodness in people. And I believe, although universe works in mysterious ways and sometimes kicks my ass, it is wishing my well-being. I truly do.


In a good day, I know the uncertainty is the very aspect what makes life exciting and pumps my adrenaline. I like being the person who can say ‘No’ when everyone says ‘Yes’.

On the contrary, the fact that I can’t sure anything in my life becomes the biggest fear in a bad day. And questioning myself; why can’t you be just normal?


The fear, the worries fluctuate every single day, several times a day. But I know the answer to be happy: trust myself. For last 27 years, I hide my natural shyness and always be the one who was strong and confident because I had to. Maybe I was pretending to be a strong one because I was uncomfortable with a lot of pressure and the decisions that weren’t truly mine. I feel like now I am truly living my life based on my own decision. Previous roads I was walking on were perfectly fine and okay, because in the end, I was the one who choose the path. But I know now that was not entirely ‘me’.


Everyday is a good day and a bad day, but I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to have this confusing time. It’s giving me a hard time, but not everyone is having the transition time, or worrying about their uncertain future while doing what they really want. Or even the opportunity to try what they want to do. Most of the people, at least most of the people I’ve met were too scared to even try.


Life is just like Schrödinger’s cat: it can be either good and bad, and you can’t really know it is or it isn’t unless open the box. Everyone has uncertainty. Maybe this is nothing to do with your choices. You’d never know this will lead you to the right destination. Only time will tell. And how you are building the path, that’s what makes a better future.


So, am I really happy?

In a big picture, I can say, yes I’m happy to have this opportunity to walk on the road I truly want. I’m happy for the fact that I’ve tried, and am trying. The fear will be cracked in the future, and the answer will be still unknown for a while, but all I can do is trust, be grateful, and try what I can do. Just like I said on my last birthday’s tribute, do is better than not do even if I fail. I’m happy to sitting at the cafe, and writing this post with a cup of coffee that is cold now because I was here for 4 hours.


So, I’m wishing myself happy birthday and enjoying the uncertainty and the journey ahead.

I bought myself a hat last birthday. For this birthday, I will buy myself a one way ticket.


Celebrating Birthday, last year



18 thoughts on “Am I Really Happy?: Looking Back on my Birthday”

  1. Happy Birthday!

    I can relate to much of what you have written but not in the same context (traveling). I am about ready to head out on a walk about. Why? I need to. I choose to.

    A couple of quotes came to mind:

    I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. — Walden; or, “Life in the Woods –Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”

    I tried to find a quotes similar to:

    Regret comes from not giving 100%

    Home is where the heart is.

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

    At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.
    Barbara Bush

    I hope you find both your dreams, heart, and sense of place – whereever it is 🙂


    1. I agree. Regret comes from not giving 100%. And I know that because I’m not that kind of person. I always jump in with two feet, passionately dig in. Somehow it looks very slow and curvy, but I know this is the right path. It’s just trees are too tall, so I can’t see further. Thanks for your wish and great advise. Thanks.

  2. Happy Birthday Juno! I love this post; life is scary sometimes, especially when you’re travelling and it there seems to be is decisions and worrying about things like money and security and all the other silly things! But as long as you’re happy that’s the main thing 🙂

    Have a wonderful birthday!

    1. Thanks Beverley. Sometimes I think life would be so easy if I’m just ‘normal’ but I know there’s another speed bumps in other way of life. I have faith in me, and trying to think positive. Thanks for birthday wishes Beverley!

  3. I think Wordsworth, Thoreau and Twain would have all tipped their hats to this post, Rafiki. Anyone can spend their days dreaming of castles in the air. It takes guts and gumption to start building the foundations. It’s been a joy and an adventure watching how much you’ve grown since I met you just half a year ago. You’ve reminded me just how important it is to trust in ourselves and our dreams. Especially on the days when uncertainty and fear seem to take center stage. We can never know what might have been, but what will be is a matter we can take up with ourselves. And if you’re ever in doubt, just remember the red coat, the high heels, and the glitter gun. You’re a champ, and I can’t thank you enough for having faith in yourself and in the universe. And in me. Happy birthday! I’m VERY proud of you!

    1. Thanks zazu, I’m really fortunate to have a friend like you. I can honestly say I couldn’t do this without you. We are dreamers and doers, ironically that’s why we are so frustrated with ourselves. Because we look so further. But in order to do that, we have to take a step by step, don’t try to jump.
      This uncertainly is my energy, in a good day. So, I have to make more good days so I can move further, faster, and stronger.
      I can’t wait to see how we are going to build our lives.

  4. Happy birthday! I know that love of birthdays you talk about! I adore my birthday, although it seems everyone around me just wants theirs to disappear.

    I also know your quest for happiness and your fear of failure. I’m still shackled to my desk. I just got married and have tons of bills and the prospect of quitting my job now is impossibly scary. But I do plan to do it. I did it once before. I actually came back because my true dream is to make a living as a photographer, and equipment costs money. Then my huband proposed and there was a wedding and that costs money…LOTS of money.

    It’s funny how the choices we make dictate our lives. How sometimes the things we want strap us to other things we don’t want. I admire your courage to take the leap. I hope someday soon I’ll be able to do the same…and have it stick!

  5. Happy birthday Juno! Doing whatever you’re doing now, sacrificing job security and monthly pay checks is definitely not easy. And I applaud you for having the courage to take the leap of faith! At the end of the day, it goes back to what makes you happy. Even if it means living on the edge! 🙂

  6. Happy birthday Juno! I hope your one way ticket brings you close to the USA… I had so much fun meeting you (however briefly) and hope we can hang out again soon. You are wrestling with the same issues we all are, but you put our feelings so elegantly into words. Thanks 🙂

  7. It’s natural to take inventory when that one day rolls around each year. To look at what we’ve accomplished, and fret over what we haven’t. You know in your heart though if you are on the right track. Uncertainty or not…you know. And I’m pretty sure you are rockin’ that track… 🙂

  8. Fear of the unknown and fear of the next money coming are two major fears I dealt with when I lost my job and embarked on my own two-year journey to spread my wings. And now I’m back at work, with a different perspective and a lot more happiness. But I miss the uncertainty. Ah, life! Happy Birthday!!!! Great essay!

  9. Happy birthday Juno! It’s great way to use your birthday – reflect on where you are in life! Only you can know what is best for you and the direction you want to take. Just make sure that you are doing what is right for you. While there will be fears and obstacles, be proud of the decision you have made. And even better, who you have become as a result.

  10. Feliz cumple from Buenos Aires!

    I will not say that I wasn’t happy before, but there was definitely something missing. Now one year into my travel sabbatical, I have to admit that I have no clue what I will be doing in 6 months. Like you, I am always afraid of uncertainty. But doing something like this, something I have wanted for a long time, has made me push through that fear.

    My life is not perfect. But I am happy.

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