The 50,000 Things I’m Supposed To Do Before I’m Thirty

Flickr / aacevedo
Flickr / aacevedo

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So, I’m officially in my twenties. I can’t lie, the millions of articles entitled “50 ways to improve your life” or “101 things to do before you’re 25” get me every time. They peek out at me from the lifestyle section as I’m browsing the news, and the gazillionth friend links them on Facebook. Pictures of girls in flowered headbands and 14,000 boho bracelets up their arms cover the headlines as we all sit here and read them in our College of Something-Something XL t-shirts and well… no pants, because who needs pants? They are everywhere.

Maybe I just don’t like being told what to do, but I’m not going to “date someone completely wrong for me” on purpose, just for the experience of it. You know why? Because that sounds like a sucky experience. Yes, you get new things out of life and new perspectives on what’s happening around you by meeting and interacting with all sorts of new and different people, but do we have to put ourselves through that? I don’t think so. Also, “have wild kinky sex with a stranger” is one I’ve seen before. Can we just say no to that? There are about five thousand reasons why that could end badly. Have you ever watched “Disappeared” and the Investigation Discovery Channel? Stranger danger, people.

On a real note though:

Sometimes you can’t help but feel like you’re failing. Because there are a million things I could be doing. I should have gone skydiving… I should have blown all my money and spent a month in India, because what if I never get to go? Why am I not bilingual? Are my dreams big enough? If I don’t want to be on Broadway anymore am I giving up or am I just changing? What if I get through my twenties and haven’t accomplished anything; what if what I’ve done just isn’t big enough? Everything in my life is pointing the right way, everything is wonderful, but it’s so easy to feel like everything I’ve done only means something to me. Like I have yet to be impressive, yet to make an impact.

To be honest I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done. In the last few months I have conceptualized, written, and directed a piece of theater I’ve been working on for years and continue to run a successful media campaign based on it. I am now knowledgeable on so many more health, media, and women’s issues than before. I have worked at Tiffany & Co., which has always been a dream of mine. I have run two 10ks, a Warrior Dash obstacle race, and a Super Spartan.

I just signed up to run my first full marathon in December! My friends and family are wonderful. One day I will settle down with someone wonderful as well. I travel the USA frequently, and I am sitting writing this piece while studying abroad in Dunedin, New Zealand, living with five other people I just met a week ago. When I get home I will be graduating college with a degree in Theater and Dance, moving, and hopefully beginning my adventure into event planning. I hope these things mean I’m doing alright in life

…right?

If you’re anything like me you’re sitting there beginning to list your accomplishments, heroic moments, and obstacles you’ve overcome in the last year. Stop. Here’s the shocker. No matter what schools and business tell us about how important a resume is, we shouldn’t have to make a mental list of our accomplishments to remind ourselves we’re doing well in life. Living shouldn’t be about making a wonderful resume of life experiences; it’s about what you get out of them. And there’s no scale that can tell you you “got enough” out of an experience or you could have “lived” a little more. So you just have to do the best you can. When you get to somewhere beautiful (physically, mentally, spiritually), don’t forget to breathe and just be there. That’s hard for me sometimes, to just be, but I’m working on it. Breathing is the really important part, I guess. Focusing on that, it’s like yoga.

And breathing isn’t a box to check off on one of these stupid lists.

So if you date a guy that’s totally wrong for you, or do get to go bungee jumping take it all as it comes to you and learn. I’m not going to say we can’t make mistakes. But you can learn from a bad experience, and that makes it less of one. We’re going to lose things and learn things and the next ten years are going to be filled with some of the worst and most fulfilling, joyful, awe-inspiring moments of our lives so far.

But our twenties are so far from being the end of it all, so let’s not wear ourselves out, or drown in bank account debt because of what we’re “supposed” to be doing. Sometimes I learn more sitting with a mug of tea talking to my girlfriends than I could meeting crazy strangers and traveling the world. Do what you can, make the most of what you’re offered, and if what you want isn’t offered to you go find it and make it work. Enjoy the journey of getting there. So maybe my bank account can’t handle a four week cruise through Italy and maybe I haven’t fallen in love on the beaches of Spain.

I really don’t care. I have everything that I’ve learned from all of my different experiences and all of the people I’ve met. There’s no formula for a happy life, there just isn’t. Who knows, maybe I’ve messed mine up already. Maybe I’ve taken a wrong turn and the next five years of my life will be just hard and difficult. I really don’t mind that either. Because I can’t sit here today and can’t even begin to predict what is going to happen tomorrow. Theres nothing I can do about tomorrow, and more than likely it will be wildly different than what I think it will be like. There will always be things we haven’t done. But there are so many things we have, and will. That’s why I’m not scared of life, the bad or the good. Isn’t it part of the adventure to just not know? So why make a resume? Why hold yourself to a list you made up, or someone sitting behind their computer screen a million miles away from you did? What is that to you? So why do we even click on the links anymore. It’s not a guide, it’s just a list. We all know these things, we don’t need to see it in pretty font with pastel colors. I just know that in my 20’s I need to breathe new air, in many places, deeper, with more people I love. I’m not going to check boxes anymore.

Finding yourself isn’t about being able to define yourself. It’s about knowing what feeling like yourself feels like. “Me” feels like standing on top of the world with my eyes closed.

But what do I know? I’m only 20. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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