Birthdays are special to me. They represent another year that God has given you to be wiser, grow stronger, meet new people, make mistakes, fix mistakes, set goals and change lives. Just like the start of a new year, birthdays symbolize a new beginning.
Recently I was invited to a 40th birthday celebration. Actually it was a whole weekend of activities including yoga, community service and a dinner. I was truly excited about all of the activities but could only make it to the dinner. The host (birthday girl) is a thoughtful planner and three weeks prior to the birthday festivities sent out an email request for people to write poems, shoot a video, or in some creative way showcase how she inspired them over the last decade and/or what she could focus on for the in her 40’s. She also sent out her theme for the next decade of her life: People & Purpose. This theme resonates with me, who is about to turn 31, and is something that I have been thinking about for months (more to come in a later blog post about that).
The dinner was held at a wonderful location in San Francisco that was closed on a night it would usually be open for this private celebration. Guests mingled in the lobby prior to the guest of honor arriving. Shortly after the start time, it was buzzing and full of people. We were ushered into the dinning area where dinner was to be served. Amid dinner, guests were asked to say some words to the birthday girl. While I write pretty well, I am very shy when it comes to emotional speaking. So I held my sorority sister’s hand while she spoke for both of us. When I sat down in my seat and began to listen to the words that people were speaking and look at all of the people who filled the room, I started to think about how one person can affect the lives around them. I also took away from that event three key points that I think we should all think about.
Be financially savvy. The birthday girl works in the tech industry and is very successful. Not all successful people manage money well and while I don’t know the all details I can tell you that she has made some great decisions when it comes to managing money. This was very apparent that night when she was able to reserve the entire restaurant and treat her guests to the dinner. This is inspiring. It made me begin to think more about the decisions I am making with money and how to position myself for financial success in the future.
Do something. The day before the dinner, she organized a volunteer project with a local non-profit. What a wonderful idea to mix your birthday with service. Although I could not make it, I heard that it was great for everyone involved. During the dinner, many spoke on how they viewed her as a role model or she helped them out in some way. This made me think of all the people that silently watch you. What would they say about you if given the opportunity. Who have you helped? Do something that changes lives. Not just for the glory but because you can. Because someone helped you.
NetWORK. When I looked around the room there were of course people I knew but also people I didn’t. The attendees met the birthday girl during all phases of life. There were former coworkers, sorority sisters, mentors, mentees, family, and friends of all races there to celebrate. It is great to surround yourself with different cultures and people who share different views than you. This part of what life is about – having open dialogue with people who can give you a different perspective on a given subject. The only way you are going to get these people in your life is to network. And to network you must do something. Join something. Go somewhere. Talk to people.
I’m sure that like each of us when we celebrate a monumental birthday, the birthday girl had her reservations. I’m sure she wondered had she done enough in her years on this earth. I’m sure she may have been disappointed with where she was. And although there are many inspired by her I find that we are always hardest on ourselves. But for me and many in that room, I think the successes in many areas of her life were evident and as she continues to grow and develop through the next season in her life there will be many there to support.
What are you going to do for you next birthday?