We’ve all got things we want to make sure we fit in before we kick the ole bucket. Mountains to climb, planes to jump out of, famous people to meet, whatever suits your fancy. But if you take a step back and think about it, making a bucket list is so very restrictive.
Simply going down a checklist as you travel or live your life just to tick things off isn’t as fulfilling as it may seem. I’m sure it makes for a great Instagram feed, and sure, some of those goals are pretty incredible and I’m not saying you should avoid them.
Not picking up what I’m putting down? I’ll compare it to a night out at the club. The main event of the night is the actual club. You’re looking forward to it, everyone is amped up ready to really kill it out there on the dance floor, maybe meet some potential baes, and have an unforgettable night. All the good pictures are at the venue, when you’re dressed up, looking fly, and posing for the shot.
But even though it looks great, the reality is the best part of the night falls before and after. You can’t deny that you have a blast while you’re pre-gaming and getting ready with your friends before you leave, singing and dancing around in your sweatpants, giggling and chattering with the anticipation of what’s to come. Or after the club, when you drunkenly lay around eating pizza and laughing about the exes you ran into, the creeps you thought were cute, and the weird dance moves you pulled out against your best judgement. Or better yet, if you’re feeling so crazy you decide to have your own little after party and sneak into the public pool for an after-hours dip.
These are the real memory makers (unless you had 4 too many shots at the club).
That item on your bucket list, that’s the club. Your pumping it up real high. So high you may be disappointed when it actually comes around. Now, if you want to see the Lincoln Memorial before you die, I’m not here to tell you to skip out on it altogether. Take me with you, actually. But keep in mind, there’s a lot of build up for this main event, you see it and then it’s done.
More often than not, the memories of that trip aren’t going to be when you finally got to the statue and looked at it. No, you’re going to remember laughing over waffles and mimosas at brunch and the late night conversations you had while walking under the mix of stars and lights sparkling onto Washington, D.C. That doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the monument, but will it be the highlight? I suppose if anything it could be an excuse to make the rest of the memories.
The true memories are the hidden beach you find with your partner. They’re the first time you realized you understood what someone said to you in French. They’re sharing a bottle of cheap red wine on a pier with a new friend. They’re the café that smelled like cinnamon you took refuge in during the sudden thunderstorm. They’re meeting a group of international students and climbing to the top of a castle, realizing when you get back down it’s 2 am and you need to hop over the locked gate. They’re trying obscure foods you’ve never heard of while locals eagerly wait for your reaction. They’re more about the feelings than the sights.
The conversations you have, the music you listen to, and the meals you eat, will all add up to be much more than the monument you came to view. Don’t limit yourself. You don’t need a moment to check off in order to be fulfilled or to have a great story. Remember, all the really important stuff happens between the numbers on the list.