Some people's lists were clearly written in their early 20s, giving them nearly a decade to complete a highly ambitious list, such as managing to travel to every continent while earning advanced degrees and becoming successful in their field. I glanced at my list (and the past few years of my life) and could feel self-doubt and disappointment creeping up.
I had already been feeling like I wasn't yet a "real adult". I still ate dinner on the couch more often than at the table, because the table was too full of other stuff. My mattress had springs poking out and was currently residing on the bedroom floor, not a bedframe in sight. Real adults organized their mail, had regularly scheduled housecleanings and wouldn't be embarrassed if someone stopped over unexpectedly; real adults didn't have their mattresses on the floor.
The remedy, I decided, was to make a list of 30 things I've already done, experienced, or otherwise accomplished. 30 things I'm proud of, even if I accomplish nothing on the list I was working on. 30 things I can say I achieved before 28 1/2 (totally a real goalpost, you guys. Trust me).
So, here they are. Well, some of them. I'm going to be adding them slowly, discussing why each and every one of these items are things I'm proud to have accomplished. The order isn't leading up to the most important or anything, I just kind of organized it in a way that made sense to me.
1. Made a 101/1001 List
This was easy, because it was the most recent. I've already talked about this before, so I won't say much here. BUT, it was a good experience getting to know myself, my goals, and laugh at what I thought I would do. (Watch EVERY HITCHCOCK MOVIE EVER?! Lesson learned: research your goals. That number was much higher than I guessed).
2. Worked in Food Service
I strongly believe that every person should have at least one job in either food service or retail (or both). While not the most technically difficult, nor the most stressful, nor the most physically demanding job in the world, it does includes all of those things and has very little personal reward. In the various jobs I've had in behavioral health, community mental health, non-profit what-have-yous, some have been more difficult, some have required more patience, some have been physically demanding (restraining children so they don't assault you? surprisingly demanding). They have, however, all had some level of personal fulfillment, which you just don't get serving all you can eat wings for a $2 tip. And yet, even as a hostess, a server, and a college food court cashier, it didn't suck all the time. Sometimes, people went out of their way to be complimentary, or cheerful, or left a decent tip. And I know having had those experiences, it is a little easier to treat those working in retail or food service like a decent human being.
3. Moved 2,500 miles away from where I grew up, to a city I had only been to once, and without a job lined up
I went to an out of state college, but really just traded small town Connecticut for small town Massachusetts, except I was closer to Boston. So, when getting married and getting ready to graduate, I jumped at the opportunity to move to Tucson, despite having spent less than a fortnight there on a recent trip. The culture was different, I didn't know anyone aside from my husband's family and friends, and was leaving a very stable job.
Even as I write this, both sets of my grandparents live in the houses my parents grew up in. My parents and all of my aunts and uncles live in Connecticut. The majority of my cousins live in Connecticut. I had always sort of pictured myself with my family no more than a few hours drive away. So, moving to the southwest? It was scary and difficult, but definitely a good choice for me.
4. …and drove here, planning the trip via atlas instead of using Google Maps or GPS
So, I don't remember learning how to read a map. Ever. I somehow had a vague understanding of the process that I picked up at some point, but it was not something I had really used. Even when driving back and forth from the north shore to Boston, I just really hoped that Google Maps wasn't incorrect and eventually learned my way around. So when we decided to drive to Tucson from Massachusetts, I got really excited about planning the trip. We spent time with my family in Connecticut, then drove up to Minnesota for a few days to spend time with friends and family in both Detroit and Ann Arbor. Then, we meandered through Indiana and Illinois, stopping in the hometown of James Dean. We spent another night in Kansas City, Missouri (again with family), then traversed through Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico before arriving in Phoenix. We had arrived before we could move into our place in Tucson, and David's parents were living in Phoenix at the time. Needless to say, I felt like a bad ass sucessfully navigating that trip. In fact, it was the first benchmarks I began using when contemplating if I had reached that elusive "adult"status.
5. Completed my Undergraduate Degree
It would have been really easy for me to to not have done this. I thought I had everything I needed before moving to the southwest, but found out that the math class I had taken one summer at a community college didn't count towards my required math/science credits. I needed 4 credits of a math (or math based science- I ended up in Physics). Oh, and I had failed a 0 credit gym class. That's right-0 credits, didn't pass, needed to make it up. FOR COLLEGE. (I had bronchitis, and missed too many classes to pass.) I thought it was ridiculous I had to take gym classes in the first place, and naturally put them off until the last minute, and then failed. So, after moving to Tucson, I enrolled in ballet and Physics for non-majors at the community college and got those credits transferred. I graduated December 2007, only 6 months later than expected.
And there you have it! The first 5 things I have already done, experienced, or otherwise accomplished.