‘Self-portrait with birthdays’: Reflecting on my poem in light of my birthday

In light of my birthday that was yesterday, I’m reposting a poem of mine “Self-Portrait with Birthdays.” I first published “Self-portrait with Birthdays” here on my blog on December 25, 2011 — almost 10 years ago. Plenty has happened since. I invite you to read last week’s blog post on how far I had come as my birthday loomed.

Self-portrait with birthdays

As each year goes by,

I wonder

Did I do much with my life?

I graduated from college

Magna cum laude,

written a poetry book,

Raised a child,

have written three unpublished novels,

Been through two abusive relationships

And spent a week and a half in a hospital.

My birthday is August 27

And I wonder,

“Is this all I have to my existence, to say that I’ve

Ached through a lot and achieved a lot?”

Should I have be

A rock star


A reality TV star


A rich bitch?

Should I have been a


Or a somebody else?

“Self-portrait with Birthdays” is a self-reflection, a snapshot of my life marked by milestones and how much I had grown and accomplished along the way. It examines how that shaped my “self-portrait,” pondering the “What ifs” and “What nows.” The poem doesn’t address my thought and expectations of my future. Yet there’s an underlying hint that it does. Of course the past and present determine the future. There is a thought there in the poem of, “If this has been my past, will my future be this way too?”

Depending on the age, some birthdays are considered the milestones of all milestones. However, I believe that every birthday is a turning point. Each not only indicates your chronological/physical age, but also your spiritual, mental, and emotional progression. The items I list in my poem — being a mother, writing and publishing works, and struggling with my personal matters — don’t define me. They are my life experiences, but none of them define me. I know that now and have acknowledged it for quite some time.

Too bad I thought about reposting “Self-portrait with Birthdays” one day after my birthday. To be honest, the post idea struck me the morning after –when I’m writing this. And even if I did think of doing this yesterday, I was having too much fun on my birthday to do a blog post 😂

If you’re asking, how old I am now … well, I invite you to view my Instagram account, where you’ll see plenty of my selfies. After seeing those, I now ask you: How old do you think I am🤪

“Self-portrait with Birthdays” first appeared in “Looking Life in the Eye,” an anthology featuring Central Florida poets. The piece appears again in my poetry ebook collection, “A Symphony of Silence,” available on Amazon Kindle and other online bookstores.

Teresa Edmond-Sargeant is an award-winning journalist and author. She released her first collection of short stories “Inner Demons” in October 2020. She is the author of the short story ebooks “Eve the First,”“For My Sister,” and “Sammy’s Butterflies” “A Symphony of Silence” is her second poetry collection. Her latest short story “Healing” is published on Short Fiction Break.