My birthday wish for you

By 08/06/2018Personal

My 26th birthday: “Let’s fly somewhere exotic last minute and have a three-day party!”
My 46th birthday: “Well, I’ve got a doctor’s appointment to get a cortisone shot in my foot, then I have to hit the bank to take out cash to pay the nanny.”

I turn 46 sometime tonight. No doubt I’ll be asleep when the actual moment arrives… And that’s fine. I’ve never really been a big fan of my birthday. I don’t really like throwing parties for myself, and I get all flustered when people try to have events in my honor.

Strange, when you consider that I’m most perfectly at peace on a stage giving a speech to 10,000 people. I’m the world’s most introverted extrovert. Weird, huh?

So since I don’t want anything for my birthday, I’d like to instead, take a second to tell you what I want for YOU.

1) I want you to realize that your vision of who you are is skewed. You’re not ugly. You’re not as fat as you imagine. You’re not as awkward as you think, you’re not a loser, and you’re not doing worse than all of your peers.

2) I want you to remember that the race isn’t with anyone else. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon, it’s over the course of your entire life, and the only person you truly need to be better than today, is the person you were yesterday.

3) I want you to remember that spending one day every once in a while not working out and eating two cartons of Ben and Jerry’s while lying on the couch binge-watching The Office doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It means you’re human, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for it.

4) I want you to remember that when you’re at your worst and think you’re absolutely and completely alone, you’re not. I guarantee you with every ounce of conviction in my body, that if you were no longer here, the world’s light would be a little dimmer, and there would be people who would no longer be complete without you.

5) I want you to believe that every screw-up, no matter how bad, how detrimental, or how embarrassing, has a grain of lesson in it, and if you can learn that lesson and apply it to your future, then your screw up was worth it.

6) I want you to understand that YOU will ALWAYS be in control of how YOUR story ends, and you have no obligation to be the same person you were a year, a month, or even a day ago. If you don’t like where you are, move. You’re not a tree.

7) I want you to reach out and reconnect with someone who has fallen off your radar. I want you to do it today, because tomorrow very well might be too late.

8) I want you to understand that every single one of us has demons lurking inside of us, and every single one of us fights a battle to maintain control over them, every single day. Every single one of us has self-doubt, every single one of us makes the occasional boneheaded mistake, and every single one of us is afraid that we’ll never truly succeed. Every. Single. One of us. Including me. Definitely including me.

9) I want you to remember that you’re loved. You truly are. If you don’t believe you are, head down to your local animal shelter, and sit with a homeless cat or dog for an hour. Then try and tell me you’re not loved.

Thank you for being in my life, my friend. I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

Much love,

-Peter Shankman

Join the discussion 21 Comments

  • Patrick D Dunne says:

    Thanks, Peter. I intend to share your wisdom with a group of teachers tomorrow who are just beginning their new school year with a faculty meeting as the students return on Thursday.

  • DavaDB says:

    This. Is. Wonderful. Thank you for this gift.

  • Leanne says:

    Happy Birthday Peter!

    I am having an even more wonderful day now I’ve found you!

    I have literally just discovered you today, in my quest to gain positive insight and knowledge about ADHD. You are now the same age I was when I was first diagnosed with combined ADHD and I have been researching the subject every single day ever since – I too am Leo and will be 49 years young next week. How glad was I to be listening to your book Faster Than Normal on my train home from work. This is the first book I have found (and I must have read at least 20 so far) which really hits the spot with easy to process information and down to earth discussion about how ADHD can affect us, but relayed in a positive way. There is so much negativity and stigma about ADHD, it gets on my wick! “SQUIRREL!!!” That’s just genius…. I even loved your first sentence, I’m definitely a ‘shiny’ seeker and straight away I had a beaming smile across my face and felt at ease. So, of course, I’ve Googled you as soon as I got home and here I am. Thank you, thank you, I look forward to squirrelling into my brain all I can from your wisdom and online resources, videos and the podcast. Best of all, I feel you will be just the person I have been searching for to help others in my family, who are struggling with the whole ADHD diagnosis, relate to it as positively as I do. It turns out we all are fabulously neurodiverse in varying degrees – what a combination eh!

  • Debbie says:

    Thank you after the year I just lived through and it’s aftermath i needed this! Happy Birthday!
    I was fired a job in February of 2017 that I should have retired from . I worked for the Federal Government and could have had full retirement in 5 years. It was devistating , I have worked for many years with many honors and awards. The boss lied and trashed me and my work performance. He did not get off Scott free I appealed my termination, got a settlement, and had my record changed on paper , however it was too late I am done with the federal government. The worst thing was I lost my health insurance. I became very angry and had problems including anxiety and loss of ambition. My husband insisted I see a psychiatrist. I did and I was diginosed with ADHD. It wasn’t a complete surprise I have always suspected , but I had learned to compensate. I went on Medication and it has made a huge difference. Just when I was ready to go for a new career, I fell in August and broke my femur and had to have surgery’ and a metal rod in my leg. Now I am fully recovered but because of a high deductible insurance and no income I have spent most of my savings and still paying medical bills. Ithsbeen tough but I plan to keep trying and start a new life with new ambitions.
    Thanks again for the ‘presents’ and happy birthday!

  • Gave a terrific birthday!!! You are a gift to the world. Spoil yourself on your big day!!!! I’m a lifetime fan.

  • Wendy Kula says:

    Peter, You are a light! You are a great Dad. You are a great friend to many who know you or just follow you. You educate one, me, and the masses who follow you. (I learn about local & world events from you before most news outlasts can push out the breaking news of the moment. I even have my 77-year-old mom following you because she thinks you’re cool!) You inspire and motivate so many. You are a visionary. You make me smile. Happy birthday Peter, you rock! Blessings, Wendy, The Kula Group, PR consultant (on medical leave for 4 years due to lingering illness no one knows how to cure, (big sigh) Plano, TX)

  • Leslie says:

    Perfect. #1 is mine all day long. Happy Birthday!

  • Lynn says:

    You continue to inspire me, my friend! It’s an honor and a blessing to know you and learn from you…even an “old broad” like me can learn new things!

  • As always, I am at a loss for words when I read your inspirational posts, and can only say Wow!

  • Pat Bacon says:

    Thank you so much for the words of wisdom. I am going to make sure to do everyone of your wishes. WISHING YOU A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY, hope it is filled with all your wishes, lots of love, health and happiness, and many more to come

  • Holly B says:

    Peter – Thank you for the gift of your experience, compassion, & insights…this is a beautiful, timely message for me and one I’ve been sharing with friends & family. Wishing you an abundance of peace & joy on your special day – do something nice for yourself! Thanks again for the inspiration!

  • Hughes Trella says:

    Happy birthday Peter and a great big thank you. You definitely touched my heart and blessed me today.

  • Helena Stehlik says:

    Thank you Peter, this is wonderfully gracious of you. You have such a big heart. I’ve introduced your emails and podcast to several of my friends so they can be inspired in their parenting and their personal goals.

    Happy birthday. If you like cake, chocolate cake, and happen to be in the San Jose area, let me know and I’ll treat you to a slice of chocolate cake from one of my favorite bakeries and it’s not a “chain” 🙂


  • Richard Speight says:

    Thanks, Peter. I particularly accepted gift #7 with a soon to be released book (my first) about maintaining old friendships and reconnecting with lost ones. And I’m self publishing after your recent inspiration on that topic as well.

  • Thank you Peter!

    #8 Just finished the wonderful 5 hour eulogy Judd Apatow did for Garry Shandling on HBO called the ZEN of Garry Shandling. Wonderful documentary treatment of Garry dealing with his demons. Released in March 2018.

    Sharing what I like on streaming is my hobby project. I haven’t opened this site to search yet but you can find it at TVReview dot co.

  • Kathy Barnes says:

    Thanks, Peter for the awesome birthday gift!

  • Roland Teigen says:

    Dear Peter:

    Happy Bday! If you had never done anything other than writing your experiences with the early morning Seal Bootcamp workouts, you added to my life already. One of the funniest things I’ve ever read, even more so because it actually happened. This missive today–well written, and well-wished to us.


  • Julie says:

    Very nice sentiments. Have a great year!

  • Priscilla says:

    Happy Birthday!

  • Happy Birthday! Thanks for the words of encouragement.

  • Linda says:

    I sent you a personal reply but just read this again and thought I would add my kudos to the others here. This email is such a boost that I read it every day which makes me reach out to another person and build my network of people that I can impact and who can change my life. You truly are being used of God Peter. Don’t stop writing and keep sharing yourself with us. You make a difference!

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