Monday, May 24, 2010

28 and Counting

8 more minutes left in my 28th birthday. Does anyone else find it weird that a 28th birthday actually marks the end of one's 28th year and the beginning of the 29th? It feels like being cheated out of a year. I propose the world goes through a temporary, though immensely painful, rescaling issue where we all acknowledge that we are one year older than currently and move forward with our lives. When you pop out of your momma, it should be your first birthday, not your zero-eth birthday. That just makes no sense. It may be no fun to think of yourself as one year older, but nothing has really changed. You're still the same person who is the same age as before the shift, just with more accuracy.

Now that this bit of semantics is out of the way, it's time for me to step back and look back at the last 28 years of life. Years 0-3 (now officially 1-4) are pretty much a blank, but aside from these 3 years, today I came up with one pretty big conclusion. I complain a lot. For those who know me, this self-assessment is probably not much of a surprise. What is more interesting to me is not so much the fact that I have always been a whiny little girl, but rather that almost all of the complaining has really had one underlying symptom, and I wonder if this is true for others as well: life is pretty great.

The last several extremely busy months and corresponding anxiety have really solidified my feelings about this; we're remodeling a house, professional work is high gear, I have no time to run or otherwise exercise or see friends, my brother and sister are farther away than I would like, we're going to have to move all of our stuff again in a few weeks, and a few more, Michigan remains economically stagnant, etc. All of these things are annoying or somehow stressful, but what is way more interesting to me is when I actually think about the root causes of each of these issues.

1) Maureen and I are lucky enough to afford a house
2) Having a job is never a bad thing
3) I can't run, but if I was unhealthy, I wouldn't ever have the opportunity to run
4) There are some people who haven't yet rejected me as a human being
5) I love my siblings and being away from them isn't how I'd like things to be
6) Michigan is important to me because it is a truly wonderful place
7) and so on.....

I've actually never had this realization before, and it's kind of weird. There are a few major complaints that definitely don't fit this pattern - one that immediately springs to mind is unemployment. There is typically nothing happy underlying unemployment frustration except for maybe additional free time to enjoy 20 seasons of Law & Order. Another of these examples is health issues (though you could argue that sadness regarding health issues is a reflection on how good things can be without them or the basic value of life). I guess the more I think about it, there are some legitimate complaints that are generally more thrust upon an individual, and I don't want to dismiss these or insult people experiencing true hardship.

I think my primary point and self-realization is that I'm finally old enough to start to understand the difference between petty, often self-inflicted annoyances and frustrations, and real, painful issues. It only took 28 years. The key for me moving forward is to do a better job to differentiate between the two, and to do a better job to avoid complaining when these complaints are really just a reflection of how good things really are or can be.

1 comment:

Dan Anderson said...

well there's a difference. you could go around telling people it's your 29th birthday if you wanted to, when in fact you'd be 28 years old. Because you're not 29 years old...just 28 + days.