I’m turning 24 today, and I don’t know what to make of it.

Usually, I’m not so big on birthdays. Why should people celebrate getting older, especially that few years later they will wish they were younger?

Living for almost quarter of a century, I have come to realize how useless my life has been so far. Not that I’m not trying, but I just fail. Again and again. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough? Or am I trying too hard that I can’t put things in perspective anymore?

I don’t know.

My birthday cake from last year. Courtesy of my roommate.

When I think about the past year, and despite all disappointments and failures, after all is said and done, I believe that I am blessed and lucky. Blessed because I have people in my life who made it their mission to see me happy and content; and lucky because although I have not done anything impressive, many good things happened to me.

I have made great friends, I have traveled to new places, and above all I have been overwhelmed by people’s kindness. Whether those people know me better than I know myself, or total strangers who recognized me in airports and restaurants, I have come to see and feel the goodness inside them, and it was a reminder that no matter how hard life can get, that it is with love and compassion that we survive.

31 thoughts on “Twenty-Four

  1. I second what you say, growing up is weird, and what’s werider is reflecting back-so stop it :P
    Happy birthday Ahmed, people around you can sometimes help you see yourself more, and on your birthday, I will tell you the quality I respect the most about you. Seeing how you kept writing, through all the seasons, through rain, quakes and mourning-you brought to my memory the Postman movie I’ve seen long time ago. “Post-apocalyptic America. What begins as a con game becomes one man’s quest to rebuild civilization by resuming postal service.”
    Happy birthday, Ahmed. Everyday of our life deserves a celebration, birthdays are just an additional people to do so…

  2. Ahmed,

    wait till you turn 30 :) .. Happy Birthday brother wish you best wishes this year and ever…..

  3. Happy birthday!!!!!
    One celebrates birthdays, because, although every day is special, it’s good to set one day apart as extra special.
    And the day of your birth is as good an excuse as any.
    The day you were born was a very good one! So worth celebrating! And about not achieving anything…. you know very well that is not true; you have achieved a lot besides blogging too.

    Only very young people can go on about how they achieve nothing in their life.
    Oh, no, just had an episode like that myself. Ok, so age doesn’t help… Anyway. Wait until you are 75: and then we’ll discuss the achievements of your life, and if it was any good. Too early now.

  4. I feel ya. I just turned 26 and it’s the worst birthday I’ve ever had. All I can think about is how I’m 4 years away from 30 and how fast it’s all gone by. It worries me more because the elderly people I speak to say that it only goes faster as you age. But worrying solves nothing, right? It will only give me more wrinkles. I don’t have any yet but I’m sure they’re hovering just below the surface…

  5. wish you a good one. What a coincidence !
    I am 21 now and I was just thinking today for the first time about what you have just written.
    Anyway, this is life and you don’t need to have a success life to be a good person. Normal life is ok sometimes

  6. Happy birthday Ahmed!

    I have to say that, when I read the comment by another reader “Getting alder means getting wiser!” I first thought “Um, how is this supposed to work with Ahmed?”

    You say you haven’t done anything impressive in your life, but I doubt that. You’re writing this blog, aren’t you? It impresses people, day by day. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to reach further goals – but it’s not that you’re just starting.

    And, finally: Don’t worry (well, at least not too much), be happy!

  7. As always I’m late: Happy birthday!!!

    You haven’t done anything impressive in your life? Difficult to believe, you blog, you are, you took action when Fouad was send to jail… That inspires others to stand up, although you may not see that directly.

    Don’t know if I would have stand up in your position, it’s easy talking for me living in The Netherlands.

    Lighten up and be the change you want to see in the world :-)

  8. ola ola ahmeeeeed , happy birthday :)

    ( العمر قصير يا حمدان ، خلينا نستمتع باللحظات اللي نمر فيها )

  9. Happy Birthday! I don’t agree about your life being useless. I’m a 42 year old woman in Boston (USA) who reads your blog regularly to learn more about how a Saudi looks at the world. And I sometimes forward things that I read here to my friends. Your opinions are being heard by people on the other side of the world. That’s not a small thing!!

  10. Your life has been very useful. This blog and your other efforts to enlighten and improve others is one of the best things you can do with your life. True happiness comes from communicating effectively with others, exercising your body, exercising your mind, being creative, and helping others. This blog is impressive. You do not have to do anything above average to be a good valuable person. Being regular can be a very positive and satisfying thing.

  11. Too late, but still meant – Happy (belated) Birthday!

    You don’t celebrate you are getting older but that you have lived another year. Each year having lived is worth celebrating ;)

  12. sort of few days late, but as a hardcore reader of ur blog, as the first time I have to come out and say” happy birthday , Ahmed!” wish all is well in ur life:), u are the most insightful and responsible suadi guy i ever met.

  13. happy birthday, and may you have many others healthy in body and mind. your thirst for wisdom, hunger for justice, and resilient vision are a great inspiration to all of us but especially to the voiceless.

  14. I came across your blog two weeks ago and I really respect your tenacious spirit and dedication to informing the world of the many (good/bad/oddly fascinating) dichotomies of Saudi Arabia. As an American I’m a staunch supporter of free speech and you deserve mad props for speaking out on, and being critical of, the people in positions of power. Now, as a Black American, I can understand on a much deeper level the push for equal and civil rights, and your efforts are reminiscent of my parents, grandparents during the Movement, and from reading your (and others’) insightful commentaries, I’ve become more conscious of social justice issues in countries other than my own. I have you in part to thank for that. Good luck in all your future endeavors!!

    PS. Happy Belated Birthday too–hahah I’m 4 days older than you, and one thing my Mom said to me was “you’re almost a quarter old!”…in which I responded “thats great because I still have 75 cents left of life to live…” lol! Hope thats a bit of encouragement for you!

  15. Happy birthday Ahmad and many happy returns, I have four wishes for you:
    1. May you grow in insights every time you read someone’s comment
    2. May you grow in listening every time you hear a story of our country
    3. May you grow in reason every time you discuss something with someone
    4. And may you grow in heart every time you reach out to someone

    you see life and growth is not limited by years passed but by lack of actual living…

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