My 24th birthday is on January 13th, exactly 6 days from now. There are a couple of bucket lists out there about things to do before turning 23. One is from Wandering Onwards and another is from K. Beauregard. However, I’m 24 and am not planning to do a lot of the things on either list. I’m not sure what my vocation is yet, but since I’m currently single, I know three things for sure:
- Whether you decide to marry at 23 or not is your choice. Just make sure you’re doing it for all the right reasons.
- Being in your 20s is nothing like Sex in the City or Girls. Not everyone is out there having casual sex or sees sex as a rite-of-passage.
- Being in your 20s is a time of exploration but if you go out into the world without some kind of guide to help you eventually find your way, you’re gonna end up lost.
Being in my 20s has been like that famous Tolkein quote: “Not all who wander are lost.” 20somethings (especially Millenials) are at this point where they want to find their place in the world. There’s no more safety net, no more certainty about what’s around the corner. So hopefully, my list will be sort of like a list of “suggested routes” for the wandering 20something soul. This applies to anyone single, married, in a relationship, whatever.
- Go somewhere you have never been to before. Not every place needs a passport. Sometimes, it’s as simple as driving to a new city or taking a road trip with friends to a seaside town. Believe me when I say that travelling is awesome.
- Learn something new. If you haven’t gone to college, try auditing a class or check out the local community college to see what they offer. Or learn a new skill like knitting, crochet, scrapbooking, building birdhouses…Something that can test you about what you know and open your mind to cool new things.
- Learn how to cook. More important than baking, you need to know how to cook by now if you don’t want to depend on the local Chinese takeout and cheap ramen for your daily dinner. I learned how to cook by watching Food Network. While Food Network is mostly competition shows now, they do feature great recipes (some with videos) on their website.
- Find what you believe in. I don’t care if you’re atheist, agnostic, or theistic. Everyone has to believe in something or like the saying goes “You’ll fall for anything.” So figure out what you believe in and stick to it!
- Try a new food. Now if you have food allergies like me, this is going to be a challenge. However, it can still be done as long as you know the risks. Never had sushi before? Check out the local Japanese restaurant! (Don’t buy grocery store sushi. It doesn’t count.) More familiar with Chinese? Try an Italian grill. (Olive Garden doesn’t count!) Just try a new type of food that you might not have thought about eating before. Believe me, it’s my philosophy that if you have the ability to eat anything you want, you have the luxury to be adventurous with your palate.
- Start up a conversation about religion or politics with somebody from a different faith or political party. PROCEED WITH CAUTION WITH THIS ONE BECAUSE YOU COULD TRIGGER A DEBATE YOU MIGHT NOT BE READY FOR! If you’re good at holding an argument and are NOT intent on persuading someone OR forcing your opinion down someone else’s throat, try asking a person about what their faith is or what political platforms they support and then ask them why. Some people can be surprisingly open minded about religion or if you’re talking to someone with a different faith, it can establish common ground. Again, your results may vary.
- Volunteer for a great cause. I’m talking about more than just donating money to a cancer charity or keeping a certain cause in your thoughts. Try going out to a food bank and spending time helping the people there. Visit a hospital or a prison. Staff at a summer camp or youth retreat. Teach Sunday School at your local church. All of these are wonderful causes that are more than just a way to get a tax deduction. It helps you to look beyond your laptop or cell phone at people who are truly in need.
- Learn how to dance. This is different from learning something new or learning how to cook for a good reason. Dancing is so much more than twerking or grinding at a nightclub. Dancing can be beautiful, romantic, or just a lot of fun. Take a dance class, whether it be tap, ballroom, Zumba, or even ballet. Learning how to dance can actually help you in the long run. Think of how much better wedding receptions will be when you’re just as skilled at dancing as the bride and groom, if not better. Or just dance around in your pajamas to a serious guilty pleasure. It’ll make you feel like a kid.
- Face your fears. Do you have a phobia or something you’re really scared of like horror movies? Take a chance (with the permission of your counselor, if you have one) and take a step towards getting over that fear. If the fear comes in the form of a person, figure out what went wrong and learn from what happened. In the end, getting over your fears, whatever they are, will make you a stronger person.
- Find beauty in small things. We twentysomethings tend to have “first world problems.” But there are so many things we take for granted. If you ever get a chance, check out a beautiful garden or go to your local park or to somewhere you feel is the most beautiful place on earth (malls, Justin Bieber concerts, and nightclubs don’t count). Look at the flowers and the beauty of each different kind. Visit an animal shelter and see the beauty of the cats and dogs that live there. Meet with a friend who has a child and see the beauty of a new life and the innocence in a child’s eyes. The world is full of beautiful things if we only take the time to look beyond the cliched hipster Instagram sunset picture.
- See a play or a musical live on stage. I recommend anything from college theatre all the way to Broadway. Chances are we’ve all seen a play or musical in high school, but college, community theatre, and Broadway have a lot more production value. And a lot of the times, musicals are better seen on stage than in a film adaptation because films have the luxury of editors. Musicals are live and give a certain magic and authenticity that film can’t really capture.
- On the other hand, see a movie that isn’t in your target demographic. You are NEVER too old to see a Disney movie or too young to see an art house flick. Go beyond the standard action movie, bro-comedy, or chick flick. Indie movies and Disney movies are making a comeback. Either way, you’re gonna find yourself captured by the movie magic again.
- Watch a TV show that you might not have seen before. Last year, I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer to get into the Halloween Spirit. It is now one of my favorite shows ever (and I’m not even done with Seasons 6 and 7 yet). Doug Walker of Channel Awesome bought all 3 seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender and fell in love with the show. There’s a lot more to TV than zombies, reality shows, and dramas about “pretty people problems.”
- Start saving for retirement. Being 60 seems like a long ways off from now, but then again, we never really think about growing up outside of what kind of career we want and what kind of place we want to live in. It’s good to have more than just a nest egg of emergency money. Believe me, it’ll pay off in the long run.
- Look for hidden treasures. I’m not talking about pirates, though. I’m talking about local neighborhood stores that you may not have noticed or drove past in order to get to Starbucks. Check out what local stores have in stock and you’ll find things you can’t find at a mall or even at TJMaxx. I went to such a store today and got some old-school style candy!
- Go to a convention/conference. Preferably the type where you dress up. I’m talking comic-con, anime convention, gun enthusiasts, whatever floats your boat. Meet people who share common interests. Pretend to be a different person for a weekend. You might make a new friend. Just make sure that you go with high hopes and low expectations. Sometimes, stuff can be way over-hyped.
- Start collecting something. I don’t care if it’s guns, stamps, books, or photos. As long as it’s not pornography or illegal drugs and doesn’t turn into something out of Hoarders, collecting stuff is a wonderful hobby. Look at The Little Mermaid. What’s something that you love that you like to see all the time? Like pressing flowers? Scrapbooking? Seashells? Find creative ways to show off your collection. It doesn’t have to be coins or stamps. I collect postcards and books.
- See a movie you love more than once. Seeing The Avengers twice in one year was awesome for me. It’s still one of my favorite movies. Seeing a movie more than once lets you see stuff you missed or gets you excited about seeing your favorite parts again.
- Sing karaoke at least once–sober! Being Filipino, I’ve been singing karaoke with my relatives ever since I could remember. Now while karaoke may be a famous bar activity, fortune favors the brave ones who dare step up to the microphone and sing “Hotel California” without a drop of alcohol in their body. No matter how off-key you think you are, singing karaoke is one of the ways people can overcome their fear of public speaking.
- Take an acting class. Another way of overcoming the fear of public speaking is to learn how to act. Being in theatre brings in a whole new experience. You learn how to be confident in front of a crowd, how to improvise, how to memorize long speeches (for presentations), and if you take more theatre classes, you can eventually learn how to direct or how to manage a play, learn how to sew a button, and meet a whole new group of people you’d never think of meeting anywhere else.
- Show others just how much you love them. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a romantic relationship or not. Everyone has friends or family out there. And oftentimes, we take those we love for granted or just tell them we love them without showing it. Not sure how? Find your love language.
- Forgive yourself for something you can’t stand to tell anyone else. The wonderful thing about my faith is that I believe that God can heal anything, no matter how horrible it was. If you have something that you feel was your greatest regret, talk to someone you can trust or to a priest or minister or even to God if you believe in Him. Write it down, tear it up into a million pieces. Just find a way to forgive yourself for whatever it is you think was the worst thing you’ve ever done or the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. Forgiveness the best sense of closure one can get in this world.
- Speaking of forgiveness, find a way to forgive that one person you hate the most. Now I don’t mean try and find them and talk to them or anything like that. In my faith, forgiveness means wanting the best for that person, wanting them to be happy and to live a happy life. If you don’t feel that you can do that, start small. I’ll give an example. After I moved from California to Texas, my California boyfriend turned into an ex when he disappeared on me. He never called, e-mailed, or texted. And then I find out he’s dating a new girl…from the girl he’s dating….who happened to be my friend. I hated both of them for a long time, but eventually, the two of them broke up. Recently, I caught up with my old friend and I found that the hatred I felt was long gone. And I could honestly say that I’d probably feel the same even if she was with my ex-boyfriend because I wanted both of them to be happy and I hoped that they were living happy lives. So even if it seems impossible, time can heal anything.
- Finally, I want you to find your purpose in this world. I believe that every person was created to make a difference. This is more than just figuring out your career or to devote your entire life to a marriage or a relationship. In fact, you shouldn’t. Marriage and relationships aren’t the be-all, end-all. Especially if you’re marrying for reasons other than being willing to share the rest of your life, take care of, and lay your life down for whomever you’re marrying. I’m talking about following your passions and finding your purpose through your passions. I believe that there is a way to be paid to do what one loves. Sometimes it takes some time and sometimes you have to work a job you don’t like to support it, but in the end, it’s a small price to pay compared to living your life without direction or a sense of purpose.
So that’s my 24 Things. Please tell me what you think and remember: my birthday is on the 13th!