Last Friday, I turned 25 years old.
I realize that this is the sort of thing I should have talked about sooner. Like last Friday. But it’s been a very, very long two weeks, full of too much work, too little sleep, too much emotional distress. And stories. The kind of stories that I’m sure would enthrall every one of you and make you laugh with delicious schadenfreude. The kind of stories that I will eventually share once I figure out what Time in the Tragedy+Time=Comedy equation equals, but for now I will archive in the Things I’m Not Emotionally Detached Enough to Find Funny file and move on.
But somewhere in that mess I had a birthday.
It was delightful. There was a fantastic present from Kyle, (I would tell you about it but I only vaguely understand what it is,) a lovely dinner at an unexpectedly yummy Italian restaurant, (I’m still thinking dirty thoughts about that mushroom ravioli,) and rounding it off with my reason for living: yogurt sundaes at Plum Dandy’s. (Okay, so there may or may not have been more to the evening, but we’re not going to discuss those details here…)
It also gave me a chance to reflect.
25 feels like a milestone. No, it doesn’t bring any new privileged or responsibilities, (the ability to rent a car doesn’t count,) but it feels important. It feels like I’ve fully arrived into adulthood. Which is why it seemed like the right time to take another look at my list.
The title of the list is What I Want From Life. It started as a journal entry when I was 18. I was working at a skeevy little dance supply store in a bad part of town, and often I would go an entire day without seeing a single customer in the store. I was sitting alone in the store, just me and my journal, waiting to go off to college and dreaming of what could be. From there the journal entry became a Word document. I’m not sure why, it just did. I guess it became my bucket list of sorts. They’re not all specific tasks I’d like to fulfill or accomplish, but…well, things I want from my life.
Some of the wishes on my list are general, things like:
I want to live to be old, but never grow up.
I want to be well read.
I want to be respected.
Some of the wishes on my list are pretty specific, things like:
I want to learn how to make a daisy chain.
I want to get in a spontaneous food fight.
I want to one day be completely out of debt.
Three years later, at 21, I revisited my list. I added new things to my list, and crossed old ones off. And I did it again last Friday, on my 25th birthday.
Some of the wishes I crossed off I did so because I’d accomplished them, things like:
I want to go to a Flogging Molly concert. (February 2011)
I want a husband whose sight makes my face brighten and smile in spite of myself. ( Kyle)
I want to visit Ellis Island and see if I can find my ancestors. (August 2010)
Some of the wishes I crossed off for other reasons, like:
Things I no longer want.
I want to work at a Renaissance festival for a summer. (Really? Because that sounds miserable and degrading. No, thank you.)
I want to work as a performer on Broadway. (Dreams change, and that’s okay.)
Or things that realistically will never happen.
I want to know my husband so well that I can pick out clothes for him and he’ll love them. (Kyle says this is never going to happen because picking out clothes for him is weird, and he can pick out his own damn clothes. But the point is I could.)
I want to never go to bed mad, worried, sad, depressed, upset, or stressed. (That’s not how life works.)
Looking over my list, it’s incredibly gratifying to see all the wishes on my list that I’ve been able to cross off. Dreams that I had for my life at 18 are being fulfilled, and in many ways, I’m becoming the person I always wanted to be. Sure, some of the details of my life are drastically different; I’m not the big Broadway star living in Manhattan and painting on my fire escape that I dreamed I’d be. But the essence of that person–an independent career-driven woman–is definitely part of who I am. I like to think that my 18 year old self would be proud.
But what is equally fascinating to are all the things that are not on the list. Things I have accomplished, wishes I could have crossed off, had they entered into the realm of my imagination then. Things like:
I want to spend my winters skiing and my summers hiking. (Saratoga)
I want to put up a lighting design in New York City. (August 2010)
I want to be able to run a 10k, and start training for a half-marathon. (February 2011)
I love these unwished for accomplishments, because it means that not only am I becoming the person that I wanted to be, but I’m also becoming a person that I never imagined I could be. (Which is a relief because my 18 year old self seemed to imagine myself becoming the chick from the movie Morning Glory. How cliche.)
I have no idea when I’ll look at this list again. I don’t like to set a date for it, nor do I actively like to check in on my list and see what activity I should be pursuing next. I prefer to think of my list as more of a mirror than a yardstick. But I’m sure that a few years down the road I’ll again feel like the time is right to take another look at my list of Things I Want From Life and see how I’ve grown and changed.
I can’t wait.