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!