Birthday Advice from a Not Yet Old Lady

To some, this might just be an ordinary day but for me, this is the day that marks when I entered the world. That’s right, it’s my birthday! Before I break out the champagne, err…cosmopolitans, to celebrate another successful year of not dying I’d like to share some things that I’ve learned, because I’m now another year older and another year slightly wiser. I already have the temperament of an old lady so I want you young’uns to gather round and listen up. Maybe you’ve already heard advice like this, maybe you haven’t. Maybe you need to hear it again because much like me, you are stubborn and keep trying to do things your way. Either way, here’s what I have to say:

  1. When you’re struggling, it’s possible that you haven’t tried everything. This time last year I was in a really bad place. I had been out of school for over a year and was still unsuccessful at finding work that was actually in my field. I was getting sick of hearing the usual job finding advice that baby boomers pass down to millennials (“Go knocking on doors, you need to show up in person!”) and was feeling fed up when I got some advice to go to Service Canada because “they’ll help you find a job!” I had major doubts about this. I’d already tried the government’s job bank and hadn’t had any luck. Nevertheless, I called Service Canada, who referred me to a local employment agency. They helped me go over my resume (again), do practice interviews, and even passed along some promising job listings. From there I found an internship which led to a job and now here I am. I was so tempted to ignore the advice I was given but I learned that until you’ve tried absolutely everything you can’t be too quick to dismiss what other people tell you.
  2. Learn to let go. Someone very close to me is an alcoholic. I hate it. I hate seeing the effect that alcohol has on this person when they are drinking and also the toll it has taken on this person’s cognitive functioning after years of hard drinking. But after yet another explosive argument I finally asked myself why I was going over the same issues repeatedly. It felt like banging my head against a brick wall and somehow expecting the other person to change. Whether there’s alcohol involved or not, I’m willing to bet that a lot of people have dealt with a situation like this. Eventually you have to just let it go. Even if this person remains in your life, you have to stop hoping for the impossible. Some people can change. Some can’t. The important thing is to step back, detach, and stop letting yourself get hurt.
  3. Worry about yourself. I have a tendency to focus on other people a lot. I was once told by a mentor that I take on other people’s problems and manage to be too empathetic. I don’t get “worried sick” but I can get pretty darn close. My reasoning is usually, “But I’m so concerned about what’s going to happen to this person if they make the wrong decision!” However, over the last year I’ve noticed that all the people I was sooooo worried about are actually doing pretty well. And while I was busy worrying about those people and their life decisions, I was ignoring my own. It’s hard to keep in mind every day, but now I try to focus on myself and what I can do to improve my own life. It’s not selfish, it’s a way of making my own life better so that I can be there for my friends when they do need me.

So there you have it. Groundbreaking or not, I’m trying to remember these lessons everyday. Now I’m looking forward to the year ahead and being open to any other lessons that life has to offer. Cheers!

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