I turn thirty later this week and have been going through the motions of feeling scared, extremely anxious, excited (because I love birthdays), reflective, and concerned that I haven’t done many of the things I set out to do when I first turned twenty-one.
A lot of people tell me that my feelings are unwarranted, that being thirty isn’t a big deal, and that nothing changes. And while nothing might change from a day to day perspective, I worry that the feeling of you have your whole life ahead of you that one feels through their twenties will suddenly diminish. That feeling of regret over not accomplishing the many things – big and small – will set it. So here I am taking steps to avoid those feelings by preempting them (such a grown up thing to do!)!
The first step is to look back at this past decade and marvel at the many things (some awesome, some routine) that I have accomplished (or at least ticked off my list!). Whether it was leaving home and moving to a different country, hustling for my first job, having my first real paycheck, buying extravagant gifts for family and friends, traveling to the many places on a never ending bucket list, getting married to my best friend, ticking off some professional goals, investing and saving money (and losing money learning to do that), learning to enjoy food and culinary experiences, having grown up furniture, getting published, or many many other things, there is certainly a lot to be proud of! So, a pat on the back for surviving my twenties and doing a pretty decent job at that!
The next is to understand the lessons I have learned and to make sure I keep them close to me – whether it is understanding that some relationships are meant to end when they do, or that some friends do truly become family, or that money can come and go but your integrity is what always remains, that family does come first, or that it is okay to do things for you, and that, all said and done, you are responsible for your own happiness. My twenties taught me that your word is important, that you are accountable for your actions, and that being true yourself is the greatest gift you will give yourself and the people who love you.
I also know that I now need to find something new to look forward to; all my life that was my thirtieth birthday. I never thought to look beyond that. So, with that, here is my list for the thirty (+one) things to do before my thirty (+one) birthday next year.
- Travel alone – For all the traveling I have done, I have never truly traveled alone to a place where I know no one. So, in the next year, that’s the number one thing to do.
- Get a tattoo – I have grown up afraid of needles and the feeling of permanency tattoos bring with them. This year, it’s time to conquer that.
- Go to a really tall building and look down for one minute – This might seem strange to some but I have a fear of heights and this is my small way to help conquer it.
- Take care of my health – I have never had a full body exam or made regular appointments with doctors; I go see the right one when something is wrong. This year, I aim to correct that and engage in preventative care that I know is so important.
- Get healthy – I don’t only mean lose weight or go to the gym x times a week. I mean really get healthy – eat the right food for me, find a balance between indulgence and control, pick up an activity that I do for longer than one month.
- Let people around me know what they mean to me – send handwritten notes, care packages, send them a message, pick up the phone more.
- Learn a language – I have zero (proven) ability to learn languages. So this year, let’s see if we can change that!
- Take a dance lessons – I always took dance lessons when I was younger. Somewhere, I lost that interest in learning new dance forms. This year, let’s do it.
- Take a class – I haven’t taken a class (outside of the bar exam) in over 6 years. This year, I want to learn something new. Maybe more about technology, maybe about arts and culture.
- Get that dreaded professional certification – I have been putting this off for a few years. Making sure it is on this list is my way of staying accountable.
- (Re) start a blog – I love food, eating out and sometimes cooking it myself. I also love(d) to write. This year, I am going start blogging more.
- Read 31 books – I always marvel at how people find the time to read so many books each year and have always wanted to do that myself. It is going to take discipline but we are going to get it done.
- Watch 31 movies – I probably do anyway, but let’s make it an item to tick off the list!
- Make a frivolous purchase – Even though I buy what I need, want or feel is worth it, I have never bought anything just because. This year, I want to see how that feels like.
- Host a dinner party – I love hosting people at our home but I almost always cater a large part of it. This year, I want to through a true dinner party – fancy plates, home cooked food, good wine, flower arrangements – the whole shebang.
- Send postcards – This is something I do once in a while but now, every trip I take this year, I want to send at least one postcard each time. I know I would love to receive a handwritten note from another person’s travels so me doing it for someone else just seems right.
- Sponsor a girl child – I have been doing things like these on and off but I haven’t been able to truly sponsor the education of anyone in entirety. This year, I hope to make a small but meaningful change in another person’s life.
- Wake up 30 minutes earlier – Imagine all that I could accomplish – a homemade breakfast, that glass of warm water with honey, making the bed, oh, the things I could do are endless!
- Meditate – I have started and failed at this goal SO. MANY. TIMES. Maybe this year I am finally able to concentrate for 5 minutes a day without distracting myself?
- Write more – My early twenties included a lot of writing. I even wrote a book of poetry for my best friend as a teenager. This year, I want to write more.
- Learn photography – I love clicking photographs but I am not so good at it. Apple offers free classes, so maybe that’s a way to do it!
- Meet one new person a week – I was extremely good at meeting new people and networking when it came to making professional connections back in day. This is something I want to emulate in my personal life and start back on professionally.
- Plant a tree – because why not.
- Say yes for an entire week – I read about this a little while ago; I want to have a “yes” week. What this means is that, within reason, I will say yes to anything anyone asks me to do.
- See the opera – This is something that just seems so cultural and grown up that I it’s been on my list forever. Time to do it.
- Surprise someone.
- Have a picnic in the park – I have lived in New York for over 4 years now. How have I not already done this?!
- Complete the 31 countries in 31 years list I have!
- Perform at a karaoke bar – Something I have only ever done in large groups. I am a terrible singer and have something of a stage fright when it comes to this.
- Unplug for an entire day – no television, no emails, no technology.
- Write down 31 things I am grateful for.
Writing this was scary but exhilarating. I have put down thoughts and wants I didn’t even realize I had! But, time to celebrate this week and then continue celebrating every week after that while checking things off this list!