This past year has been a crazy year of firsts. Going on my first blind date, my first trapeze class, my first Blackhawks game as a Chicago resident, the first time I read over 50 books in a year, the first time I took a challenge to write a novel, the first time I went rafting and the first time I spontaneously hopped a plane to travel.
But I didn’t stop there. This year also marks the first time I marched down Michigan Avenue in the Festival of Lights parade as a balloon handler. With Kara, Sarah, Durda and Amanda, we manned the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer balloon. The balloon, as big as a house, was a beast in the wind. Thankfully, we only had a couple of scares while walking down Magnificent Mile, including the reindeer game of getting Rudolph’s head stuck in a tree.
It was a fantastic time with the gals and I’m not sure if we had more fun creating a spontaneous sing-a-long while moving down the street or helping deflate the balloon at the very end. All in all, such a worthy bucket list item.
Everyone seems to be putting out lists of regret sorts: “25 Things I Wish I Knew…”, “10 Things Someone Should Have Told Me”, etc. And I for one, am sick of it. Why reflect back on life with wishes? Regrets? So here’s mine:
25 Things I’m Damn Proud of and Glad I Did By the Time I Was 25
- I studied abroad out of the college setting. In today’s world, it seems like you’re a rarity if you don’t study abroad in college. But going in high school was quite the wake up call. Living in a city where you don’t speak the language at the age of 17 is mortifying. Living in an apartment with 6 other people is hell. Using a “hose” to bathe with really makes you wish for the days your biggest problem was the shower ran out of hot water.
- I quit a job. And not like a part-time job (because I don’t think I ever “formally” quit the Dairy), but like a full-blown grown-up job complete with a resignation letter. And yea, doing it during the downfall of the economy just made it that much more exciting. I felt like an adult. An adult who knew what she wanted and was going to go and get it.
- I got fired. And again, like a real, full-time-with-benefits kind of job. Talk about an ego blow. Talk about knocking you off your high horse. Talk about a moment of “Holy Mother what do I do now?!” I learned you can lean on people you never imagined. I learned life goes on. And I learned that if you’re going to be unemployed, Chicago in the summertime is the perfect place to host the event.
- I made a lasting impression. After helping Louise secure funding for her sculpture, there today, at one of the busiest LUAS stops in Dublin stands my Summer 2007 work. It will be there forever. Carrying with it graffiti from hooligans and snapped in tourist pictures as they make their way to the Guinness Factory for a tour.
- I read. Even after the 600-minute club stopped, I still had a healthy appetite for books. And I still do. I’m so glad I learned how a book can cure any ailment.
- I answered the volunteer call. I don’t remember when it happened, but at some point during childhood, I learned that volunteering isn’t volunteering; it’s just doing what’s right. I’m still so amazed when people are like “Oh my gosh! That’s so great you volunteer!” When my reaction is just simply, of course I do!
- I realized the benefits of a public library. Public libraries in Chicago are insane. Books for a month, DVDs for a week and museum passes for a week good for up to 10 people. Seriously, thank you ChiPubLib for satisfying my culture palette.
- I do activities you would never do alone. This includes movies, eating at restaurants, going to events, etc. Learning to just be with yourself is scary and so rewarding. Opens your eyes to new ideas, people and more importantly, who you really are.
- I moved away. While others still wonder why I have yet to move back to St. Louis since I left in 2004, I’m proud that I haven’t. I would have fallen back into a groove I already created. Instead, I’m exploring new cities, new time zones and new people.
- I drove cross-country. Granted, Katie and I nearly killed each other in Western Kansas, we made it. And we learned a ton about each other in those few short days than we’ve learned in our 3-year friendship. I know that girl inside and out. And I know that the sweet sounds of Enrique Iglesias can elicit euphoria in two gals.
- I lived without a car. After being fortunate enough to have a car early on, I’m used to the luxury. After moving to Chicago, the luxury became a hassle. A costly one. And then…
- I mastered public transit. Growing up without public transit and all of a sudden having to use it takes a bit to get used to. But now I know how to map my route (with the help of Google Maps) to anywhere in the city. I’ve even grocery shopped with it and lived to tell the tales.
- I asked a boy on a date. Man, that seriously is so nerve-racking. And I now have a new appreciation for all boys who continue to do this. The guy I asked said yes, we had a great time and then things didn’t work out. We’re still friends and he still says that’s one of the things he’s always liked about me, my assertiveness.
- I asked for help. After getting fired/let go, I realized I lived in one expensive city. So I asked for help from my mom, who fortunately could help me. And while it was hard to swallow at 24, I think it made me humble. Made me appreciate what I’ve known was always there. And made me more willing to help a friend when they need it, even if that just means buying them a bottle of wine or some Ben & Jerry’s. Because I’ll probably be there again too.
- I didn’t change. Some people might think that when they hear, “God you’re just like you were at 17” is an insult. But I don’t. I’ve stayed true to the person I was. I’ve always shown my true colors. And I will always continue to do so. I now the kind of person I am. I own her. And my interests at the age of 13 are pretty similar to interests today. That shows passion, not the fact I still might be immature.
- I tried seafood. I’m not a huge fan. But I’ve tried it at various points of my life. And with enough sauce, butter, salt, you totally cannot even taste that fishiness. Sometimes something you thought was so scary younger (eating things that could potentially rise from the dead and swim in your stomach), isn’t all that bad these days.
- I never lived alone. I know everyone harps on how you need to live alone, but frankly, I’m glad I never did. Yea, I’ve had terrible roommates that make me wish I lived alone. But then I remember the few amazingly awesome roommates I have had. And then I remember how if you live alone and start choking, you could potentially suffocate and die and no one would know. Yea, I’m pretty glad I never lived alone.
- I don’t have regrets. Looking back, there are definitely dumb things I’ve done. But I’m not wishing it never happened. They provided life lessons. And some hilarity (but only when looking back, at the moment, not very funny). Besides, wishing and hoping doesn’t lead to a whole lot of doing.
- I started a journal. I’ve got a lot of journals, from travel to Ireland to happiness to quote to texts…It never ends. And man, they provide the best laughter in my day. When I’m struggling to find something that made me happy on the day, I flip back to that day in past years. I find that I got excited over a phone call with Jeremy. Or the fact Grey’s was on. Or the fact a class got cancelled. Really puts things into perspective for you.
- I went on a blind date. And now I don’t have to waste my prime dating years on ever doing that again. Seriously, that can really make you zero in on what you want from the dating world and in a potential partner.
- I achieved some goals. I firmly believe that writing down your goals makes you more determined to meet them. So I started doing that. And I started achieving some. Which is an awesome feeling of self-worth. And a great practice to continue throughout your years.
- I found a mentor. I have many mentors in my life, but this was my first stranger, real world mentor. After reviewing my favorite paper store on Yelp!, the owner contacted me and thanked me for my kind words. That was a year ago. She helped me work through my unemployment. She kept me to continue my path of excellence in this world. She continues to inspire me.
- I wore my confidence proudly. Starting in the real world takes a certain air in a person. Moving to a new city where you know no one takes a certain kind of boldness. I’ve always worn my confidence on the heart of my sleeve. I’m glad I realized the importance of this characteristic early on. It’s definitely gotten me to where I am, and more importantly, where I’ve been.
- I got a disease that can’t be cured. Getting Rheumatoid at a younger age made me really value life and my life and things that I can do, while other sufferers can’t. While I know my road ahead is a long one, I’m thankful that I get to spend years managing this disease. I have the time to constantly search for a new medicine to try out. I’m confident that whatever comes my way, I can find a solution, both a short-term and a long-term. I lost my fear of needles, which was huge.
- I plunged a toilet. Growing up with just a mom around, I have seen a woman figure out how to catch a mouse intruder, plunge a toilet, kill bugs and mow a lawn. These factors have made me very desirable as a roommate. Also, Lisa legitimately called me to come over in college to kill a spider. They’re things my friends truly admire about me.
Your turn! What do you think is something everyone should do by the time they’re 25?