If we’re honest, we’re not always excited about our birthday. For me, I begin contemplating deep, existential questions that ultimately ruin the experience. This is unlike my sister who made a big deal out of every birthday, particularly when moving into the double digits (10).When we were growing up, she was always so obsessed with turning a year older.
I’m a year and a half older than she is (this is important). Every birthday she would always ask me, without fail, “Darveiye, how does it feel to be ___?” My sarcastic reply was always along the lines of, “The same way it felt a few hours ago.”
I’m 24 now and something changed this year. In fact, something has changed my last few birthdays. I felt it. Big time. I felt older. This overwhelming weight of new (invisible) responsibilities hit me like a ton of bricks. I began thinking I should be further than I am, more mature, more fill in the blank. It took encouragement from family and friends to help calm me down and change my perspective.
Many of us need some encouragement and perspective shifts. So I took the liberty of giving you some things to ask and think about at your next juncture. Feel free to ask these questions to your friends and family. Maybe things aren’t as bad as you think they are.
- What are five things are you most proud of up until this point?
I had a close friend ask me this late summer of 2013. It was not my birthday, but we were getting to know each other beyond what we thought we knew. This question is multifaceted. My answer to it showed me what I valued, it eased my mind as far as the failures I’ve had, and made me hopeful concerning my capacity to do well. I believe this is such an important question to ask someone because I think we spend too much time focusing on failures. The idea is to help a person see through their OWN eyes where they’ve done some good and had fulfillment.
- What are your three biggest regrets of last year?
Periodically asking ourselves this question is important because a lot of times we find there are things we regret but never deal with the residual ‘stuff.’ If I can identify what I regret or could have done better, I have simultaneously discovered an area for growth and goals.
- How have you been too hard on yourself?
We are our worst critics. Enough said.
- How did you give yourself more grace when you failed?
Many people will answer this question with, “I didn’t” or “I gave myself too much.” This is important because people will learn so much about their perspective just from their answer to this question.
- What unhealthy things do you think you need to cut out of your life? What healthy things will you add this year?
Let’s be honest. We don’t always commit to the good things we planned to do. We don’t always drop those bad habits like we should. Let’s identify it and get a direction. Additionally, this provides some accountability for those goals!
- What gift do you plan to give the world with this year?
Oftentimes, we wait until New Year’s Eve to declare goals. Let’s step out of the norm. If we realize we can set goals any day of the year to fulfill whenever, we have a different motivation. The pressure of “new year, new me” is enormous. Everyone decides what they want to change and you feel as though everyone is watching to see if you fulfill it. Depending on the person, that is a good or bad thing. Let’s not become so consumed with what to do but who we are becoming.
- What matters more to you now than before?
This is in tandem with the first question. Give them an opportunity to see their growth and values. Sometimes they will find there are many things to be changed or many things have already changed. Also, we get so caught up in what people think of the progression of our lives. Figure out what YOU think about the progression of your life.
- “I am so proud of you because…”
If they truly are your friend and you theirs, your opinion matters to them. Show them you approve of SOMETHING they do or who they’re becoming.
- “You know what I love about you..”
This is in company with the first statement. This is a bit more in depth, I think. Let it all out! Tell them what you love about them not why you love them. Love that is conditional is not love at all. Keep the focus on them, not you.
- “You know what people love about you..”
You’re a friend, clearly. They subconsciously think you’re supposed to love certain things about them. To add what people outside of your intimate friendship think can be highly beneficial.
- “The world would be different without you because…”
Show them they matter. You know your friends well. However, friends don’t always come to each other or anyone when they’re DEEP in trouble; when they’re depressed or have suicidal thoughts. In fact, many don’t realize the severity of their own situation until they’re quite far into it. Remind them you are a safe place when they’re at their best and their worst.
- “You’ve changed in the very best way…”
The questions are to help THEM see how they’ve grown, developed, and can improve. Your statements are to reinforce the positive and confirm that change needs to be made. Be kind. Be real. Be authentic. Be a friend.
If it’s your birthday, ask yourself these questions. Hey, even make those statements to yourself! You are important and don’t you forget it!