3 Things I’ve Learned Before My Upcoming 33rd Birthday

It was fun and games until suddenly, I realized that my 33rd birthday is in a week. I had a video call with my mom today and she kept reminding me of that. That, and the reminder to buy her some stuff from Turkey.

I've been traveling in the past few months. As much as I want to update my blog with my traveling stories, it's hard to do it these days since I'm still traveling with my little ol' netbook and my friend in Serbia changed the OS to Linux. I can't seem to get the hang of it, nor do I have the patience to sort out my traveling photos as quickly as I always did on Windows. 

So I figure I will resume my traveling stories as soon as I get back to Indonesia on the laptop I've got at home, and this time I'm going to touch on some topic on my personal matters: my age and the lessons I've learned that remind me of my maturity during my trip this time. 

3 Lessons Learned Before My 33rd Birthday

I can't believe I'm still single on my 33rd birthday… To think that I'd be married by last year. LOL. 

Well, in the past 32 years, I think I've learned a lot about being a woman and a human being in general. But I suppose recently, I got some kind of enlightenment to the point that now I'm at some sort of acceptance stage.

And this trip, in particular, is pretty much the highlight of all the lessons learned I've got throughout my life in the last 32 years. 

So, what are the things I've learned before my upcoming 33rd birthday? Here we go! 

happy birthday
Source: Unsplash.

1. Taking a walk down memory lane is good to show how far you've gone from where you were.

Unlike the last few trips I had when I traveled so I could tick off places out of my bucket list, this time I decided to come back to Turkey starting from Izmir.

Izmir and Turkey have always had a special place in my heart, because it is my first time for everything. My first country to travel outside Indonesia. My first passport stamp. Heck, I traveled with my first passport 12 years ago. It was also the first time I lived far away from home.

Even when I left Izmir in 2010, I knew that someday I'd have to go back just for the sake of nostalgia. The only difference is that I thought I'd come back with someone special to whom I could show the piece of who I am. The joke's on me though, you can't get everything in life. LOL.

Strolling down the memory lane in Izmir kinda allowed me to reflect on myself as well. Everything in Izmir recently was different, while at the same time, it remained the same.

I went to my favorite midye place. When I came to Izmir for the first time in summer 2010, this midye place was barely a restaurant. It was just a small food stall by the seaside with the sellers preparing the midye on their tricycle. We usually bought midye in a plastic bag and then found a bench somewhere on the seaside to eat them while they were hot. 

  • Serkan Hamza midye in Balcova, Izmir.
  • My first tatoo.

Today, the place is one of the biggest restaurants around the seaside. They have a lot of tables to serve their visitors, and probably the fanciest packaging for midye throughout Izmir, if not entire Turkey. 

I saw the dormitory where I lived in Izmir then. Everything looked the same, but it was different. And then I looked at myself, and I felt the same.

Back then, I was just a naive student in her sixth semester getting excited to see the world. I had nothing but dreams to make it to the real world. Today, I'm no longer that naive student. I certainly live a better life today than I did 12 years ago. If there was a chance for me to get reunited with my past self, I certainly think she would be proud.

2. Embracing your vulnerability makes the best out of relationships.

Being a strong, independent woman as I am, I am not exposed to showing my vulnerability to everyone that often. I have a hard time getting past that rugged exterior to strangers.

But I think at this point, I understand that embracing your vulnerability actually makes the best out of relationships. Any kind of relationship.

Last month, I got on a road trip with Dora. She has been my online pal for almost 20 years. We forgot how we got connected, but we knew that we knew each other from Myspace. We didn't know how we could even stay friends for so long despite the fact that we never met.

And I realized that it was probably the fact that I got to show her my vulnerability in a way that I never did to the people I know in real life. We met when we were literally kids, we told each other almost everything, and that's what makes the best out of our friendship.

It remained the same when we met because 20 years are long enough to know what kind of thing makes us vulnerable. And I can't think of a better way to build a strong relationship with another human being.

Dora and Marya.
Our first meet-up after almost 20 years being friends online.

3. Sometimes you have all the answers figured out. You just need to take some time to listen to yourself.

So, the highlight of my trip is that I got pickpocketed in Serbia. I had to keep it as a secret from my parents, so I never posted anything on social media because I didn't want them to worry about me.

They still don't know, and they don't speak English so chances are they won't even read this piece and understand what's going on. LOL.

The response that I got from those who knew what happened was that how I could manage this situation so calmly. My landlord in Belgrade literally had to drink to calm her down, even though I told her that I should be fine and I just needed to go to the police to get a report for my insurance.

A 20-year-old me would probably get panic just by the thought of losing my wallet in a foreign land. But the older I get, the harder I try to calm down in a situation like this. I've learned that sometimes you know more than you think you do. And that's what happened when I realized that I lost my wallet.

Lidl in Belgrade, Serbia.
I lost my wallet after going for grocery at Lidl for the sake of Thai jasmine rice in Belgrade. LOL.

I told the woman at the supermarket that I had to cancel my transaction as I lost my wallet, and I came back home to double-check. And then I called all my banks to block my cards before asking my landlord to accompany me to the nearest police station. I asked around, I checked the requirements to open a local bank account in Serbia, and then I explored the idea of registering a Wise debit card using a friend's address in the UK so that he could send it to my address.

All in all, everything worked out exactly the way I wanted to. It won't return my wallet, my money, or the cards that I had there. But I gained back my security.

Sometimes, you get all the answers figured out if you let yourself think in a clearer mind. It's not always easy during a crisis, but as cliche as it sounds, sometimes all you need is just to take a deep breath to find out what's next.

So, those are the lessons learned that I've got from my trip. The things that I've learned not only for my future travel, but also for my future life. Cheers to 33, I hope this year will be good to me! 🙂

marya the beautraveler author profile
Marya The BeauTraveler

I am the founder and main editor at The BeauTraveler. I spent 4 years working in the aviation industry but ironically got to travel more right after quitting the industry in 2015. Born and raised in Indonesia, I started working remotely in 2017, and while I stay at home most of the time, I also regularly spend 2-3 months living a semi-digital nomad life elsewhere every year.

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