“A man growing old becomes a child again” – Sophocles
What I often see around bloggers’ birthdays, are articles entitled “number of things I’ve learned by number of years I’ve been alive”. For the most part, if I read your blog, I read them. They can be very hit or miss. I think a big part of that is the vast majority of lessons we share are learned fairly recently – though I don’t mean to generalize (I know there are plenty of profound seven-year olds out there).
So with my 28th birthday upon me, I wanted to write. I wanted to talk about how this year will be different, how I’ve renewed my motivation, how I’ll take big life steps and achieve more than I ever have.
But I probably won’t.
So instead, I’ll share a random number of thoughts that end when I’m out of things to say. It won’t be life-changing, but it will be very honest:
#1 Cancer sucks. I’m not sure if it’s part of getting older, but every year it seems like cancer creeps closer and closer to home. That’s not to say I’m sick, but various forms of cancer are taking people and animals close to me, and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. I lost a friend to cancer this year. His name is Ryan and he’s a far better man than I am. An animal I love very dearly was also diagnosed. If nothing else, I’m choosing to live life to the fullest because this year in particular has taught me that cancer does not discriminate and it can strike anyone and any time. So say I love you, make time for those important to you, and that should include yourself. Which reminds me…
#2 If you don’t have a hobby, get one. Some of my favourite time spent over the past year has been spent alone. I don’t hate the people in my life, quite the contrary, but exploring my own hobbies such as writing, learning about new things, and playing video games has awarded so many opportunities to take care of myself. It’s so tempting to accept every invite you receive. Do right by you and those invites should always be there.
#3 Growing up is expensive.
I got engaged in January. Now I’m looking at houses. And so quickly, I’ve seen my life-savings (and then some) split every-which way, allocated to the steps to come. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to take each and every one of them. I just remember what it was like to be seven years old and feel my piggy bank get lighter and lighter as you can finally afford the things you want. (So maybe there are some profound seven year olds out there…)
#4 Live by your own rules. Your family and friends will should have your best intentions at heart, often offering advice on everything they get a chance to weigh in on. But it’s you who will have to live with the decisions you (or they) make. Sometimes, it’s perfectly alright to take the road less traveled, make the unpopular decision. Hell, I owe my career to such a choice.
#5 They’ll ruin you, if you let them. I can’t tell you how many posts I’ve had second thoughts about before publishing. I can’t tell you how many negative comments I’ve received on content I never dreamed would be contentious. I can’t tell you how many snide remarks I’ve taken to heart from people I’ll never even meet. And that’s the nature of the beast. Don’t let the haters control your airwaves, and definitely don’t let a hyper-sensitive, easily-offended society muffle your voice.
#6 Redefine respect in your life. A little while ago, I read an article that said “if you want to know the true measure of a person, look at how they treat those that they have nothing to gain from”. It stayed with me, clearly. But beyond that I think we all ought to take a good hard look at how we’re being treated by those in our lives, and speak out when it falls short of what we need. Back to the original thought, virtually every person you come in contact with knows something you don’t. You can learn from them. So in a way, there isn’t a test of how you treat someone “when you have nothing to gain”. The real test is whether or not you can identify what you can learn from them, and respect them as you would any other teacher.
#7 Deal with disappointment. I am so disappointed with some of the people in my life, and my childish mentality has always gone to “I should minimize contact… to punish them”. But that’s so wrong on so many levels. In a lot of these cases, the reasons I’m disappointed aren’t because they are doing something wrong, just something that I don’t agree with. I have to deal with disappointment by being more tolerant and open-minded. Perspective is everything.
#8 Life is too short, so do it today. I can’t even begin to tell you about the number of projects I’ve put off to “some time soon”. OK, I can. One is the gym. I haven’t totally let myself go by any means, but I’m not really happy with the way I look in pictures. And for a guy who takes a minimum of one photo a day, that can be a problem. So I joined a gym recently. I don’t go as often as I should, I don’t see as much progress as I had hoped, but I’m doing something. I’m proud of myself for not waiting until January 1st when I realized there was an issue on February 1st and I hope I get to talk about some of this momentum in updates to come.
And that’s it. There’s no meaning behind the number eight here, no encrypted message of self-help to be extracted from the first initial of each sentence (at least not intentionally), just a few thoughts I’d have loved to share with myself from a year ago, or two years ago, or the poor seven-year old me.