I am a big fan of lists, especially to-do lists. I enjoy putting pencil to paper and manually writing down each item in an organized numbered column. I also like the satisfied feeling that comes over me when I get to check off each completed task. It’s as though with each entry, I am extracting that piece of information from my brain and am somehow creating new space for more useful tidbits of knowledge, like which places in SF have the best patio seating for our increasingly warm, sunny days. In fact, that’s a great blog post idea… excuse me while I jot that down.
At some point in 2012, I sat down and wrote a list. However, this wasn’t an ordinary to-do list, but a deeply personal one. I wrote a list titled, 35 Things I Want to do Before I Turn 35. Now before you start shaking your head and scolding me for making such a cliché and stress-inducing list, please let me explain what prompted me to write such a personal challenge.
I had recently come back from a six-week journey through Peru with two amazing travel buddies… well, one turned out to be much more than just a “buddy,” but that’s a different story. It was the first time that I had traveled to South America, lived the backpacker’s lifestyle, and submersed myself that deeply into another culture apart from my own. It was a life changing experience, and I hadn’t wanted it to end.
Not only had I just come back from an amazing adventure, but was potentially going into a new one as well. While I was in the midst of my travels, I was given a rare summer job opportunity in San Francisco that would begin shortly after I returned. I initially turned it down. I wasn’t ready to leave my home in Santa Cruz. I loved its beautiful beaches, majestic redwoods, and laissez faire lifestyle. But then I thought about it again, and quickly changed my answer. Adventure was in my blood now, I couldn’t turn down a new opportunity just because I was comfortable and happy with my current situation. Plus, I told myself that I could always move back after the summer was over.
So I was going through a transition period… but why was the age of thirty-five so significant?
The simple answer is, I have no idea. But for whatever reason, I had placed a monumental importance on this number. Some people freak out at age twenty-five, but I didn’t even bat an eye. Others are not a big fan of thirty, but I felt more empowered and confident on that birthday than I had ever felt in my twenties. No, I had set my sights on thirty-five. It was my self-imposed “scary age.” No one considers you a kid, or even a young adult at age thirty-five. I’m fairly sure that you even jump over to a new age-range bracket on those stupid lifestyle surveys! This was the end all, be all age where I was supposed to have all of my shit together and all of life’s answers figured out.
So there I was, on the heels of a six-week love affair with a country and a “friend,” and I was leaving the place that I had called my home for five years and had made some of the closest friendships of my life.
Something shifts internally when we are going through big changes in our lives and are suddenly booted out of our comfort zones. We feel naked and vulnerable, so we try to regain a shred of our power. Some people do this by changing their hairstyle. Others like to go on vacation, or revamp their wardrobes. I made a list, and here it is in no particular order.
35 Things I Want to do Before I Turn 35
1) Take a cooking class
2) Toned arms + abs + ass = hotness
3) Travel alone
Proceed with your blog idea You’re reading it! Booyah!
5) Take a cross-country road trip with a friend/boyfriend
Visit Hawaii Nine friends, including two local tour guides, an amazing vacation home, and a week-long bachelorette celebration definitely made for one memorable inaugural visit to the Big Island!
7) Learn conversational Spanish (Working on it! Nosotros bebemos vino!)
8) Learn to drive a stick shift
9) Go scuba diving
11) Get a motorcycle license
12) Take a surfing/paddle boarding lesson
13) Fall madly in love and hold nothing back
14) Live by yourself (Probably not going to happen in SF.)
15) Pay off my student loans (This seems like a pipe dream.)
Learn how to say no I’ve actually had a few very cozy Friday nights at home.
17) Finish my Master’s (Meh… maybe.)
18) Take salsa lessons
19) Buy a nice camera and really learn how to use it
20) Learn to make a signature dish and then host a dinner party
21) Have a safety net of at least $1000 in my savings account (I’ve had this, but it’s definitely not been a stable situation.)
22) Travel for at least six months consecutively
23) Be a more involved “auntie” in my friend’s children’s lives
24) Learn the perfect comeback for “You’re tall!”
26) Swim with wild dolphins
27) Own one very expensive but absolutely wonderful jacket
28) Go up in a hot-air balloon
29) Give snowboarding another try
Join the mile high club I would like to thank my aforementioned lover-friend, our extremely generous pilot, and burning man for making this possible.
31) Spend New Year’s in an exotic location
32) Begin a retirement fund
Communicate your feelings… stop being such a secretive Scorpio I’ve pretty much nailed this one, especially in the last year. Now maybe I should change it to, “Stop being so stubborn!”
Create something Over the past two years I’ve succeeded in creating a new life for myself in SF… and I’m pretty darn proud of my blog too.
35) Photograph the sunrise and sunset of my 34th and 35th birthdays
By this point, you may be asking yourself, Why is she even sharing this list? Why should anyone care? Well, my friends, I have squandered away all but six months of my time to complete this undertaking, so now I would love some suggestions. Do you know of a good salsa class for beginners? Do you have a great money-saving method? Have you taken a fun cooking class recently? Please help me check off a few items!
You mean you only have six months left until your 35th birthday?!
Yes, that is correct. I know this is probably very surprising news to you because I look so svelte and youthful. Thank you.
No… I meant…
Yes, yes, I know what you meant. I’ve only completed a handful of the items on my list in the past two years. Well, I’ve been busy! There are a lot of fun and exciting things to do and explore in this city to keep a Curious Tall Girl occupied! Any who, excuses aside, I realize that I probably won’t complete the entirety of my list in the next six months, especially since some of the items are time irrelevant like, “falling madly in love,” and others have already expired, like “spending NYE in an exotic location” since New Year’s Eve falls after my birthday.
After writing this blog post and finally airing out some of my neurosis, I’ve began to realize that maybe life won’t actually come to a screeching halt when my birthday arrives like I’ve been fearing all along. After all, I have many friends that have made it through their thirty-fifth birthday, (and beyond) quite successfully. It seems to me that in life you are perceived by others primarily by how you see yourself… with some limitations of course. We can’t all be treated like Gisele Bundchen and Ryan Gosling just because we may see ourselves that way.
However, we are quite good at faking it until we gradually begin to believe it. One of my friends who recently became a new mom said that she and her husband had both expected this colossal shift to occur when their son was born. They thought that they’d feel like mature adult parent types, but now that their son was a month old, they basically still felt the same as they did when their son was in utero… albeit, a lot more exhausted.
I recently text my slightly older best friend and asked her if she had anything planned for her thirty-fifth birthday, since it was only four months away. She said that she hadn’t given it much thought. I confessed that I was thinking a lot about my impending birthday, and mentioned how I really needed to work on my list. Then she told me something that I already knew, but when it’s repeated to you by someone else, it somehow seems to put things into perspective.
She said, “That sounds like a good start… but it’s not the deadline, it’s the journey. You have your whole life to complete that list.”
Touché my friend. So right you are.