Today, I Celebrate Another Birthday!
Erik Erickson’s theory of psychosocial development describes stages in our lives where we face crises which then have positive or negative outcomes in our personality development. According to Erickson, I am entering the Integrity versus Despair stage where we hopefully have acquired the wisdom to have a strong sense of self to put up with our physical disintegration, and the stage where we tend to make an evaluation of our lives and feel either a sense of accomplishment or despair.
So, today on this my birthday, I look back on my life and make an assessment of what I have learned.
I was born on a winter night to parents who taught me, by word and example, important lessons. I learned trust and the importance of boundaries. I learned to share and respect others. I was taught that when mistakes are made you fess up to them with courage and never place the blame on others. I learned early on that we have the power to change our environment, ourselves, our circumstances for good or bad.
Shortly after my mother Marina’s death, when I was only thirteen years old, I arrived one morning to the parochial school we attended a few minutes tardy. Having missed the morning prayer, the nuns suspended a few friends, my younger siblings and myself, for the day and sent us home. We were commanded to return the following day, on time, with a signed note from a parent or guardian.
Outraged, I sent my younger siblings home and walked with a friend to the City Mayor’s residence. My friend and I walked with more assurance than we felt past the heavily armed soldiers guarding the front door to the mansion. I mustered all the courage I could and rang the bell.
To the man who opened the door, I simply said we were requesting to meet with the mayor for we had an urgent matter to discuss with him as his constituents.
To our surprise, only a few minutes passed before he came back to usher us into the lavish living room, where we found the city mayor, already in his suit and tie waiting for us.
With a smile, he invited us to take a seat and state our matter. I proceeded then to tell him what had transpired at school only half an hour earlier. I concluded my tale with the following words, “ Mayor, it is my understanding that the constitution of this country calls for a total separation of church and state, am I right?”
I was assured that I was correct, so then I asked, “ Isn’t a violation of our civil rights then to be sent home, forced to miss a day of school when our parents have paid the high tuition for our education?”
To this day, I cannot fathom why that man did not throw us out of his home, laugh out loud on our face, or simply arrested us for wasting his time by listening to the impassioned plea of a bushy-haired, bespectacled, chubby thirteen year old kid.
The bottom line of the story is that the nuns changed the rule, and never again while I attended that school was ever sent back home for being tardy.
I have learned also that it is more important to give than to receive. I also know the importance of persevering. When you do not succeed the first time, you try again and
again. Sooner or later, you will accomplish your goals. I have learned not to shrink from the refining moments of my life, when I have been forced to stretch myself and grow through hardship, hurt, disappointment and pain, swallowing my tears and licking my wounds, trusting that the furnace of my afflictions is purifying me and creating a hole in my heart for the blessing I am about to receive if I endure it well.
I have learned that everyone needs a passion. If you love what you do. it will give you a purpose, keep you engaged, emotionally healthy and ultimately happy.
I have learned to value the gift of true repentance, and I go repenting along the way, for that is how I change. I have learned about faith, hope and charity. I have learned to love those I serve. I have learned to appreciate my gifts and skills without pride but with humble thankfulness to be able to use them to better the lives of those who surround me. I have learned that sometimes all I need to do is be there for someone. I have learned to say I am sorry and I love you without feeling self conscious or apologetic for I am being sincere. I have learned to listen with humility and respect when others care to share their opinion about me, whether it is good or bad, but without lending that opinion too much importance, for I am after all the one who defines myself and I do not take myself too seriously. I have learned that I have the power and the duty to be happy for it is the purpose of my existence.
Yes, today on my birthday, I look back and see I not only like the person I have become, but I sincerely love who I am. I respect the woman I am today and hope still to become a better one tomorrow. It will take an eternity for me to reach perfection, but so far... so good.
This is just my opinion...
As a single woman, a Mormon and a western/ Chinese doctor.