Turning 34

34 is not some spectacular number. It isn’t an awesome milestone age that we look forward to turning like 21. There isn’t a dirty 34 party or anything exciting. It’s just one more step until we get to the main floor of 40.

Or is 34 actually something more? Might there be some value to 34 that could have been missed? I think there might be. How do I know you ask? I have been 34 for about 10 hours. Today, Tuesday January 12, 2016, is my birthday!

As is customary for most adults celebrating a birthday, we look back on the previous year and reflect on how it went. It is a lot like New Year’s Eve, only for me those two days are only 12 days apart. When I wasn’t checking Facebook for birthday wall posts or chatting with friends at work about my birthday, I thought about who I was when I was 33 (yesterday). What did I do well? Where are there areas of opportunity?

Admittedly, this past year was not a great one. I definitely went through some shit. I got hit a few times, most of it back to back. I fucked up big time and had to deal with the repercussions of my actions. I also faced some challenges with my cat Gambit who get very sick. He is an older cat and has kidney disease. He’s been my companion for over 8 years so that was extremely emotional and tough. I also faced some challenges at work which really took a lot out of me. That stress took over my life and was starting to destroy me. It was turning me into someone I am not. All if it caused me to faced a level of depression that I had never known before. Life was just destroying me. The age of 33 was quite the pity party year for me.

Near the end of 33 I picked up a book called The Question Behind The Question (QBQ). This book completely changed my life! Once I read it, I realized what I was doing wrong. I was letting life happen to me. I was playing the victim. With everything that happened to me, I kept asking “Why is this happening to me?” That was the equivalent of me just laying down and letting life run me over a few times.  I learned from this book that instead of having a poor attitude and asking incorrect questions (aka IQ) like “Why is this happening to me?” or “Why won’t she listen to me?” I needed to change my attitude. First, I had to accept that I can only change the things that I can control – myself. That’s right, me. In the end, no matter what happens, the only thing I can change is my own mentality and my own attitude. Instead then, I need to be asking myself these questions: “How can I….?” What can I do….?”

Remember, the only thing I can change is myself, so all of my questions need to include I. Once I took out the “she, he, they” it completely simplified my life. The question with I now focuses on me. That allows me to identify what I can do to make the necessary change in my life. This burden I had placed on myself dissipated very quickly, if not instantly, after this new school of thought was introduced into my brain.

Now, at 34, I’m looking forward while looking back at the same time. Neat trick right? I am looking back on everything that I experienced as well as my valuable lessons from QBQ and rolling those into my future. I think of 33 as the class where I learned the required skills for adulthood. 34 is my trial period where I can practice my new-found skills and way of thinking. I am going to make mistakes and I foresee that I will have slip ups here and there. This is where I will to be more accountable. Luckily 35 will the full live version.

The things that happened to me in the last year are over. They are done. My slate for this year is clean. I am starting fresh. No longer will I play the victim and let life “happen” to me. Now, I am going to make life happen. I’ve already started implementing some big changes in my life (more blog posts about that to come later). 34 will the year that I become the man that I want to be. My focus will be myself.

That makes 34 a huge milestone age for me. I will look back on this year of my life with a smile and pride of what I accomplished. And unlike 21, I will remember this one!

 

My Experience At McDonald’s

I could post about how livid I am that my car went to shit and how I had to get a tow truck to get my car home. But instead, I am going to tell you about something extraordinary that happened during my car situation.

Since my car stopped working while I was driving it, I pulled over to McDonald’s to call AAA and get a tow truck. I had some time to kill and feelings to stuff, so I went into McDonald’s and got some food. I sat inside to eat it so I could keep an eye out for my tow truck.

While I was sitting there seething over the situation, this young black man, probably still in high school, came over and asked if he could sit with me. While still annoyed and apprehensive (it’s hard to trust people when your identity was just stolen), I said sure. He asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a trainer. He then asked me what I trained, so I told him in a very gump way what I train. He asked me if I like it, and I told him I love it.

He then asked me if I went to school for that. I said no. For me, I learned through experience. He then asked me for advice on getting a job without any experience. I immediately went into trainer/leader mode. I told him how I started working in Servicing 7 years ago in an entry level position where I didn’t know anything. I told him find those type of positions in something he is interested in. From there he can grow and gain experience. My tow truck then showed up so I went outside to get that situated.

While outside, I couldn’t help but think of how awesome that young man was. Then I thought of some more advice to give him so I went back inside to talk to him. I told him in anything that he does, ask questions. Learn. Seek new knowledge. Make yourself the obvious choice. Leaders look for the team members who ask questions and are growing. That is what will lead him to success. He was so excited and couldn’t stop thanking me.

The media does a shitty job of representing our black brothers and sisters, so I wanted to share this great story with everyone. He really touched me and he was the one looking for knowledge.

I’ve Gotta Be Me!

I am experiencing what can only be described as a personal revelation. Something inside me is changing..growing. I feel like the cocoon that I have been encased in is finally breaking away.

My confidence in myself has shifted. It’s like a butterfly spreading its wings for the first time. I would say that I’ve been a person of average confidence. I didn’t hate or love myself more or less than the average person. I have what I considered my weaknesses as well as my strengths.

I am spirited, animated, opinionated and challenging. I love the creative side of everything. I don’t care for the organizational side of the world too much. I am a free spirit. I fly by the seat of my pants and live in the moment. I am loud and swear a lot.

Recently, I have been made to feel that some of those personality traits and who I am have some opportunity for growth. I was really starting to believe that. I felt like I was just doing everything wrong. Just a short while ago I was passed for a promotion that I thought I would for sure get some day. I was pretty disappointed in that whole situation, but I was most disappointed in me. I began to pick through all of things that are wrong with me and why I wasn’t chosen or even considered. I was pretty upset with myself for a short while. But once that passed, I felt a shift in thought. The whole paradigm of who I am started falling into place.

It then struck me…there is nothing wrong with me. The person that I am has plenty of strengths. Even what I considered “weaknesses” are actually strengths. How so you ask? One word: Perspective. The realization that just because someone else does not see the strengths in my personality does not mean they are weaknesses. They are just strengths that are not being utilized by the right people at the right time. I need to stop trying to jam my who I am into someone else’s box or idea of how I “should” be.

Watching this new show on Netflix called Sense8 has helped solidify where I am right now. Sense8 is a dense, character driven tale about connection, spirituality, love, sense-of-self and a host of other dynamics.The show is about 8 people who are telepathically connected and have to rely on each other’s strengths to survive. I am so obsessed with this and I think it is partly because it helped me realize that what I have to offer may not currently be needed, but it will be one day. Maybe a stranger on the street will need my “just do it” personality to save them from a situation, or another opportunity at work will come my way that suits who I am?

There is something liberating about this feeling! My confidence in myself is steadily rising. I had heard that at some point in your life, this confidence comes. You stop giving a shit about what anyone thinks and you stop trying to fit yourself into someone else’s mold. I think that I am having that moment at 33. I am now grateful that the situation that caused all this growth happened.

There is always room for growth and bettering yourself, yes. I agree with that 100%. But growing yourself and changing who you are are two different things. You grow yourself because you want to. You change yourself because someone else wants you to. Focus on you, and be the you that you were meant to be.