It is the end of an era. On January 22, 2015, I turned 30 years old. I have entered the “third floor of life” as a few of my friends so affectionately call it. But instead of mourning the loss of my 20’s, I decided to celebrate them in anticipation of the new adventure that is 30.
Fourteen months prior to my 30th birthday, I finalized the “30 by 30” list. On it I listed 30 things I wanted to accomplish before the big day. I made my list significant, but achievable. I asked myself a few questions that assisted me in comprising the final list. How did I want to commemorate my 20s? What fears did I want to face? What were some things I wanted to learn how to do? What had I “always wanted to do” that I could reasonably accomplish in my 29th year? What are some things that I could do to grow more as a person? As I answered those questions, my list began to form. And after I finished the list, I began making plans to accomplish each item.
I went surfing for the first time, took a pottery class, and learned how to make sushi. I stayed out all night with girlfriends and visited tourist sites around Atlanta. I took a scary elevator ride up really high and rode a legit roller coaster. I wrote love letters to my family members and blessed a friend anonymously (she still doesn’t know it was me, so fun!). I learned to drive a stick shift, learned to sew, and mastered a difficult dessert. At the end of my 20’s, I created a time capsule to commemorate the decade. There were many other items on the list but that is just a sampling of the adventures and experiences I had because of my “30 by 30”.
And now, with my 20s behind me, here are five takeaways from my “30 by 30” bucket list.
- Adventures are important, but people matter more. I loved the adventures I had while completing my 30 by 30 list, but the memories I made with people are far more special. I had an incredible time serving in South Africa, but it was even more special because I went with my mom. I grew closer to new friends who baked with me and accompanied me to get my tattoo. The laughter and experiences I had with friends while on the “all night adventure” will not fade from memory for a long time. The inside jokes my husband I shared while trekking across Springer Mountain belong to us, and that makes them special. And I’ll never forget hearing his shout of excitement when I finally surfed that first wave, or his chuckle when I jumped the first time I shot our gun at the shooting range.
- Planning helps with living intentionally. It’s easy to go through life without a plan, without purpose.
One thing I discovered from this list is that life passes us by if we don’t live intentionally. I was able to accomplish goals this year that I had talked about doing for years, and if I hadn’t sat down and made a plan, I don’t know if I would have ever accomplished them. This year was special, and the list was the reason. As I move into my 30s I’ve learned the importance of setting goals, and actually planning and working towards accomplishing them.
- Facing my fears wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I hate heights, and I hate roller coasters. So for my list, I tried to do a few things that would force me to face my fears. I rode a roller coaster and didn’t throw up or die. I rode a terrifying glass elevator up 723 feet to a restaurant for my 30th birthday and lived to tell the tale. It was actually quite a beautiful view.
- Risk-taking is worth it. I was so nervous when I took my surfing lesson. I wondered if I’d get hurt or if I’d be terrible at surfing. But not only did I love it, I wasn’t so bad. I had been talking about submitting guest posts to online blogs and magazines I read, but never got up the nerve to submit the idea. Even if my posts aren’t published and if I don’t surf again for a while, I’m grateful I tried. And I would still be questioning and talking about those things if I hadn’t given it a shot.
- Our joy brings God joy. I think we can over spiritualize life to the point where we forget that God created everything that is good. I felt close to God when I anonymously blessed a friend and when I read those challenging books of the Bible I hadn’t tackled previously, but I also felt close to God the first time I successfully surfed and when I explored the Appalachian Trail with my husband. I pondered over God as the master potter when I took a wheel throwing pottery class, and I felt immense gratitude as I spent time with friends at Waffle House at 4:00 a.m. I was reminded that our joy brings God joy, and that He desires for me to experience so much of what His creation offers.
On the evening of my 30th birthday, all 30 items were checked off the list. As I enjoyed a nice dinner with my husband overlooking Atlanta, I reflected on my first thirty years. I believe my list facilitated much of that reflection, and I face my 30’s with excitement and anticipation now. What adventures await? What amazing plans does God have for me in the next ten years? I believe even more strongly now that I want to live my life intentionally, through adventures, soaking the moments in, and telling the people in my life how much I love them.