My first 29th birthday

I recently turned (gulp) 29. There is a lot attached to that number. Well, at least there is a lot attached to it if you are me. I think any milestone in life causes one to reflect a bit. And having a blog allows you to do it publicly. You have been warned.


For me, it is not necessarily that I feel like 30 is old. It is more this general sense that there was more that I should have done in my 20's. It's your decade to be wild and free. I feel like I should have backpacked across Asia or Europe by now. Taken a long-term volunteer opportunity in some foreign country. Taken more risks in general. Already finished grad school and be ready to settle into a real job.

It's not to say that I haven't taken risks. I packed all of my things into a 1991 Toyota Corolla and moved myself all the way from West Virginia to San Francisco when I was 22 (Crap. 22. That sounds so youthful. And feels so very long ago.). I moved to Spain for a semester and lived with a Spanish host family. I worked at a field station in a National Park and stalked nesting birds by day and lived with 8 other interns by night. I know I have done things.

I guess that what it comes down to, and maybe we all feel this way just a little, is that there is a certain amount of risk that you have to let go of as you get older. You get things in return. Relationships. Stable paychecks (hopefully soon). A dog. And these things are amazing. They are. I wouldn't trade them for the world. I just think that I need a way to keep some of the young and free me around too. I might want one more than the other, but the whimsical side of me will never quite let go of the other stuff.

I am a Pisces after all. The symbol for Pisces are two fish swimming in opposite directions, signifying shifting emotional currents, conflicting desires. Yeah, I might own an astrology book. I will always want multiple, conflicting things. To be clear I need to tell you that even if I weren't in grad school on the path I am on am now, I probably wouldn't be volunteering in Latin America or traveling through Thailand with my backpack right now. Because, if I were really going to do those things, I probably would have done them by now. Not to mention that my back problems prohibit me from carrying anything on my back and the thought of staying in a hostel with a bunch of other kids sounds more like work than fun.

Part of me feels like I have been holed up in graduate school for a few years now and have let go a little too much of some of those things that make being young fun. Some of them I will never get back, like being able to survive a night out on the town and doing it all over again the next day. But some of it I can. And you know how I love a list.

This is sort of a quasi-bucket list. A list of the things I want to do every year or so, rather than a list of things I want to do before I die.

1. Do one thing to remind myself that I am alive.

Awhile back a very good family friend was showing us her new tattoo. She and her husband had just gotten one on their vacation. Neither of them were really the type to get a tattoo. Not to mention that I had sort of just assumed that if you hadn't gotten a tattoo by a certain age than you probably never would. On previous vacations she had gotten her naval pierced or hair braided. She said something casually as she was showing us her new tat. "You have to do something every once in awhile to remind yourself that you are alive." That stuck with my teenage mind and continues to. You don't have to do anything crazy like jump off a bridge. Just do something unexpected. Something other people wouldn't expect from you. Something you wouldn't normally expect from yourself.


2. Have an adventure.

Travel. Plan a crazy day doing random things in the city. Take weekend vacay. Learn to sail. Go backpacking. Just to name a few.

3. Make new friends.

I have made a lot of friends. The problem is we all seem to be a bit transient in our locations. The friends I have made in the various stages of my life have all dispersed all over the place. It makes for some great reunions, but can make it difficult when you just want to get together with some girlfriends for dinner. Making new friends is exciting. It keeps you young...and busy. Besides I was a Girl Scout for twelve years and sung the song, "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other's gold," about a million times, in a round. It is permanently burned in my brain.


4. Volunteer.


When I was in high school I was a part of just about every club (total nerd). I volunteered and did fundraising events for various groups. It was a lot of fun and I got to do something worthwhile for others at the same time. I have been really wrapped up in my own grad school adventures lately that this part of my life has fallen by the wayside. The first thing that I am doing is walking with my Mom in the Susan. G. Komen 3-day (60 miles!) walk for breast cancer research and community support programs. I am so excited for this event and all the work it will take to raise the money beforehand.


5. Do one thing that only young people do.


You know, like "Road Trip!" Or maybe "Road Trip to some totally crowded concert on a lawn!"

6. Have outside interests.

School and my future career path started to take over a lot of my time and brain power. And I don't like it. I sort of decided that I needed something in my life to work on that was a bit more of a creative outlet for me. More fun and less work. That is where this blog came from. I want to continue to write here, but to also work on some other creative things that I have been meaning to get around to. Like finishing duvet covers I promised for people or learning how to knit.

7. Do one thing that totally scares me every year.

This is a little like number one, but number one isn't meant to scare you. This is. You can take it literally or figuratively. Some things I have on this list are a hot air balloon ride, training on a trapeze (really), or maybe just doing something intimidating like going to a hip hop class.


8. Spend more time in the great outdoors.

This one is pretty self explanatory. But, you know, camping, hiking, and the like. It just resets you a bit, yes?

Okay, I think that is the whole list for now. I reserve the right to add to it at my discretion though. I promise not to take anything off of it. And I will try to keep track and we can have an update for my second 29th birthday next year. You should keep me posted on your progress too :)

I would love to hear about anything you might want to put on a list like this for yourself.

7 comments:

Shanny said... April 28, 2010 at 11:16 AM  

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Thanks for the insight on turning 29. I will need it in about 22 days :)

Jana said... April 28, 2010 at 6:06 PM  

1st- I LOVE self indulgent blog posts. Primarily because I like to be completely self indulgent and reading about you makes me think about me. ; )

2nd- Can I do numbers 3 and 4 with you? : ) Maybe we should have friend trading dinners, where we bring our good friends together and see if anyone else hits it off. It will be good for us and good karma. : ) And we can drink wine.

Errin said... April 29, 2010 at 8:50 AM  

Doing numbers three and four together sounds awesome. You are awesome :)

Muffintop said... April 29, 2010 at 11:08 AM  

Happy Birthday, darling! Such a wonderful post. You are so smart to be thinking about these things. I totally feel you. We get bogged down into these routines that make it feel like we're going to be stuck like this until we retire. Getting out and having adventures is a great way to stay young, and I'm glad you're doing all of this. I can't wait to see your new tattoo and hear about your adventures in hot air balloons! xxoo

ali marcus said... April 29, 2010 at 2:58 PM  

i'll go on a road trip with you! i have road trips ready-built into my schedule - it just means you'd have to sit through a show or two on the way...

Mr. Wonderful said... May 5, 2010 at 1:39 PM  

Great Stuff E!!! The list of a much older person might be as large as yours or even larger but..... the time left to actually "do" is so much shorter. So..one of your critical points is so correct....knock off a few items each and every year like it could be your last.

Anonymous said... November 5, 2010 at 10:12 PM  

This is great! I love it! You don't know me but I stumbled upon your blog and was reading it aloud to your good friend Lishka while preparing for a shorebird survey training. Best wishes!

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