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Thursday, May 17, 2012

31 Candles

So, here we are at my twentieth Thursday confession, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

You see, tomorrow is a fairly important day in my own life and times.  Tomorrow just happens to be my birthday, and the age that I am turning this year is the same number as the days in the month of May, the letters in the Cyrillic alphabet, and the number of flavours that Baskin-Robbins ice cream claims to make.

Yes, tomorrow is birthday number 31 in a series of fixed numbers yet to be determined, hence the reason why the title of this entry is “31 Candles”. 

You know, when I was a kid, if you had told me that I would be turning thirty-one someday, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.  When I was a little boy, thirty-one seemed so far away.  When you’re a kid, you somehow seem to believe that you’ll remain a kid forever.  You think that you’ll be eleven forever.

Of course, we all know that the fountain of youth does not exist, and we all eventually grow to become adults (well, at least physically).  Still, sometimes I wish that I was eleven again, eating a chocolate brownie ice cream cone, courtesy of the Baskin-Robbins birthday club in which I was a member until I was thirteen.

(Mmmmmm...Baskin-Robbins.  Why did you have to close your doors in my hometown?)

Anyway, enough about that.

Because my birthday is tomorrow, I thought that I would turn this entire blog entry into one super long confession.

That’s right.  You heard me.

THURSDAY CONFESSION #20:  I’m turning this entire blog entry into a haven of mini-confessions in preparation for my 31st year on this planet.

So, I hope you’ve got some time to kill.  Sit back, grab a beverage, and relax.  I’ve got some things to get off my chest when it comes to birthdays.

For one, turning 31 isn’t as big of a deal as I thought it would be.  To be perfectly truthful, I actually took my thirtieth birthday much harder.  For some reason, people really freak out when their age becomes a number that ends in zero.  I know.  Thirty was tough for me.  When I turned 30 last year, I was a bit depressed about it.  When I was in my early 20s, I had my whole life plotted out in my head, and I had believed that by the age of 30, I’d have my own house, be married, and have at least one child.

Guess what?  I’m still waiting for that house, wife, and children.  And you know what?  I’m at the stage in my life where it’s not quite as big of a deal as it was a year ago. 

Do I still want all of those things?  Of course I do.  But, obviously, it wasn’t meant to be at thirty.  Maybe I’ll just have to wait until I’m 35, or 40, or 60 even.  Yet, for whatever reason, I had assumed that because I didn’t have those things at 30 that I was a failure at life.

Now that I’m saying farewell to thirty, I wonder why I stressed out about it so much.  Come to think of it, stressing out about any “milestone” birthday is just a complete waste of energy.

It may have taken me almost the whole year to figure it out, but age doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to having your dreams come true.

(Well, unless you’re a woman who is 65 and wants a biological child, in which case, time is NOT on your side.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s no timetable for life.  I don’t have to feel like a failure because I haven’t done all the things that I want to do before I turned a certain age.  Because I know I’m not.

Of course, one thing that might have helped me a lot this year was the fact that I didn’t purposely set unrealistic goals for myself as I had done for previous birthdays.  When I blew out the candles on my cake, I always wished for the impossible.  I wished that I could move away at the drop of a hat, or that the one that I was destined to spend the rest of my life with would suddenly appear at my front door.

Sure, it’s nice to dream, but at some point, you have to realize that the only person who can make dreams come true is the person staring back at you in the mirror.  And, I suppose one lesson that I’ve learned as I transition between 30 and 31 is not to set myself up for failure.  It makes for much happier birthdays if you keep your goals for the year as simple as possible.

Prior to turning 31, I always felt as though my whole life was stuck in a huge roundabout with absolutely no way out.  But on the eve of my 31st birthday, I’m beginning to realize that there might just be a way out.

My goal for my 30th birthday was to try and find a way out of my comfort zone.  I think that I have done a fairly good job at maintaining that goal, even if only through small steps.  Take this blogging venture for example.  For years, I was a bit afraid to showcase my own personal thoughts and feelings in a public venue for fear of being unfairly judged, or verbally attacked.  Instead, quite the opposite has happened.  It’s really refreshing to post whatever happens to be going through my head at the time, and have people not only get it, but respond with positivity and kindness.  And any criticism that I was prepared for has been nothing but constructive, which was also welcomed.

So, it dawned on me.  If I can find the courage within myself to share my thoughts and feelings in an online setting such as this one, what’s stopping me from doing the same thing outside of the blog?

I know that one of the things that have been a constant struggle for me is self-esteem.  I’m getting a lot better at finding it, but admittedly I need some tuning up in that department.

Yes, the above clip comes from a cartoon show targeted at young girls, but it's one of the best examples I can think of to illustrate this point.  For what it's worth, here’s goal #1 for 31:  Believing in myself more than I have been.  I’m almost there.  There’s still work to do, but I’m getting better at understanding myself.  I know that this will not be an overnight change, nor was I expecting it to be.  But being accepting and gracious of any victory, no matter how small, will be the key to this, I think.

Goal #2 for 31 is to take part in an activity that puts me completely out of my comfort zone.  In fact, that goal was also one that I had marked down for my 30th birthday as well.  It ended up being a goal that I succeeded some level.  You see, earlier this year, there was an opportunity to do some traveling through my job.  The opportunity was a chance to head down to a stakeholders meeting for a week, and from what I have heard, the meeting was supposedly jam-packed with fun, excitement, and enjoyment.  Not exactly typical adjectives one would use to describe stakeholders meetings, but that’s the way that the company I do my day-to-day job does them!

I applied to go to the meeting because it sounded like something that would have been a huge positive experience.  And, I admit that I was overwhelmed to have been selected to go through the store vote!

All right, so in the end, the district chose someone else from another store in the district to attend.  But, I stepped out of my comfort zone and expressed interest in going.  I even applied for and received my passport for the trip in hopes that I would be selected to go.  I can call that a victory.  After all, I did just say that I would start celebrating the small victories in the previous goal, didn’t I?  Look at it this way, next year when the offer comes up again, I can throw my name into the hat again.  After all, if I could win the store nomination in 2012, I could potentially do it again in 2013.  And, even if I don’t, I still have my passport which is good until 2017.  That’s plenty of time to plan a vacation out of the city for a while.  After all, I have no excuse now.  J

And my final goal for my 31st year is also a simple one.

Goal 3 for 31 is to keep maintaining the new-found positive attitude I’ve developed over the last couple of years.  Maybe my place of residence isn’t my idea of home, but I am grateful that I do have a place to stay.  And maybe my job drives me crazy half the time, but it does allow me to pay the bills. 

One of the biggest challenges that I have dealt with over the last few years has been trying to keep a positive outlook on life because I’ve been in situations where I have been surrounded by negativity.  People who complain about every possible detail, and people who have a “woe is me” attitude.  I can be supportive as any friend, but if I am around too much negativity, it starts to rub off on me, and I end up becoming the same way.  It’s not a very nice way to live, and it took me quite a few birthdays to break out of that vicious cycle.  As a result of this, I’ve done a lot of re-evaluation with my life.  I stay away from negative situations, cut out the negative people from my life, and tried to find something good in every situation.

So, I think that by staying positive about birthdays, (and life in general), I have to believe that at some point, the positivity will be a rewarding experience.

Okay, number 31.  Your time to shine begins Friday.  Let’s make this the best year yet.

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