About two months ago when my best friend was turning 30, it suddenly started to sink in that I, too, would be turning 30 soon. Not that I wasn’t previously aware of the fact, but with the focus on our wedding in 2012, it wasn’t ever an “issue.” Until February.
Like all major milestones, I’ve asked myself the normal questions one would expect when a milestone birthday forces you to reflect on life. I won’t bore you with those, as I’m sure you can think of some on your own (have I done enough with my life? what am I going to do with the rest of my life? why can’t I lose weight anymore? who ate all the Doritos?). Needless to say, I haven’t figured out all the answers, except that I ate all the Doritos and didn’t think twice about it.
At least one of my “younger” friends has a 30 Before 30 list, much along the lines of these examples. A word of advice: two months before your 30th birthday is NOT the time to overwhelm yourself with a self-mandated arbitrary list of things you MUST do before midnight on a certain anniversary of a momentous occasion such as your birthday. But what dawned on me is that I’ve done a whole heck of a lot in my 30 years, and most importantly, I’m very happy with where I am today (even if I do worry about the future). So instead of creating a “30 Things I Want to Do Before I’m 30” list and tackling them, I created a “30 Experiences I’m Glad I’ve Had Before 30” list. Please, enjoy, as much as I did writing them.
30 Experiences Before 30 (In no particular order)
- I caught a sailfish, wahoo and too many dolphin (mahi mahi) to count, one of which was 55 pounds. This is more than most men can say, and while it’s not about the competition, I still enjoy the surprise on people’s faces when I talk the talk about fishing. Growing up in Key Largo fishing with my family are some of the most memorable and best experiences of my life.
- When I was 23, I drove 2,200 miles from Colorado to South Florida. Alone. In four days. With every single belonging I owned in my car. Talk about testing your independence and self-reliability. When most people would have asked for a parent or friend to join them, I refused because I wanted to do it alone. That, or I’m just really stubborn.
- I have broken up with someone. And I’m not talking about in middle school. Break-ups are difficult and life-changing events. It’s easy to forget how hard they can be once we are in happy, healthy relationships. It’s important to remember how much we can grow once we admit to ourselves that a situation isn’t working anymore and the only way to change it is to leave someone.
- I have been broken up with. Similar to # 3, while it sucks to be the one who dumps, it feels 1000x worse to be the one who gets dumped. I would like to think this fact keeps me humble, although I know I’m the one who really won.
- I married the love of my life. When you meet the person you are meant to spend the rest of your life with, life feels easier. And I never would have realized this if it weren’t for #3 and #4. Working out all the kinks like long distance or who’s going to do the dishes may not be easy, but my point is, the relationship is easy, because you are in love and the effort you put in is met with even more satisfaction and happiness.
- I spoke up at work to get something I wanted. Instead of sitting idly by and letting an opportunity window close, I forced the window open by breaking the glass and jumping through.
- I lived in six states. From Alabama and Ohio to Florida and Colorado with a few summers in South Carolina sprinkled in, I’ve made my rounds on behalf of family divorces/marriages and my own choosing. I’m happy to truly be happy living where I want to live, and feel it is the right place for my husband and me.
- My car has caught on fire. I continued to drive the half-fixed/half-mutilated car for another six months after the incident. The only reason I’m glad to have this experience under my belt is that it taught me to really appreciate having a dependable car, and even more so to appreciate a new car, now that I’m finally able to afford one.
- I painted a mural in a barn one summer with my mom. Beyond the quality time with my mom receiving her patient instruction in creating a masterpiece, I think it’s pretty cool to say I painted an entire mural. And when I go back to show my husband and he rolls his eyes, it feels even better to know how cool I am.
- I worked in a restaurant. I bussed, waited tables, and hosted at the most popular restaurant on island for years. It’s cliché but it’s totally true that everyone should work in a restaurant at some point in his or her life.
- I cooked Thanksgiving meal all by myself. I love to cook, and if I could, I would cook all day. Presenting me with the opportunity to cook the Super Bowl of all holiday meals is a dream come true, and one I’m looking forward to doing more of in the future.
- I learned to play tennis. Growing up, I always loved to play sports. I picked up tennis almost three years ago thanks to my husband finally agreeing he would teach me how. I love having an outlet for competition, and it always challenges me to be a better individual athlete and teammate.
- I won the family college football pool. This pool is a source of family pride, so enough said. Unfortunately it was before we bet money on it.
- My family went on yearly vacations to the beach. My dad rented a house on the gulf coast of Florida in the summer for a few years when I was in my early 20s. We fit all four of us, my dad and all my nieces and nephews at various ages into one house. Talk about mess, but we have some great memories from these beach vacations and I loved the time it allowed me to spend with my them when they were so little.
- We attended a national championship game. This is the most recent addition to the list as Sean and I just accomplished this in early April when I scored tickets to the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship game through work. It was an amazing experience to be only 10 rows off the floor, and one we’ll always remember.
- Went to a college bowl game. Similarly, when Florida State played South Carolina in the Chik-fil-A Bowl just a few years ago to end a great season, Sean and I were there along with many of our friends to root on our favorite team to a big W. This is the only Bowl game I’ve ever been to
- I went on vacation with just my dad. When I was 20, my dad took me to Montego Bay, Jamaica. I’m pretty sure this is one of the top reasons my siblings tell me I’m the most spoiled of all of us, but that’s okay. We have great memories from the delicious meals and the jungle safari with waterfalls, and of course plenty of pool time.
- I went on vacation with just my girls (for non-wedding related activities.) Most recently, we went to Seattle, but with the same group of girls, we’ve ventured to Atlantis and Key West, just for the fun of it. Again, amazing memories and vacations that are just for us.
- I made a pact with friends to stay single and then I broke the pact. During the pact, I met my husband and although I tried to resist his charm, it’s pretty much impossible. Needless to say, there is a happy ending to the story because it led to our marriage, and my friends obviously forgave me.
- We bought a beautiful house. Our house is an unbelievable place and there is not one day that goes by that I don’t thank God for living where we do.
- I have felt grief. This is not an easy one. The passing of my step-brother, Pride, to cancer was difficult. He had become someone we didn’t know anymore and I will always miss the Pride I knew and loved so much as a kid. We were 17 years apart (the oldest and the youngest) and he often felt like my best friend when I was growing up.
- I learned to love and appreciate wine thanks to our trip to Napa Valley. For many years I can remember making a new year’s resolution to learn how to appreciate wine. That finally came true when we vacationed in Napa Valley two summers ago. The experience definitely added to my culinary love and appreciation for good wine!
- I paid off all my credit card debt. Yay!!!!
- I lived by myself. This is a big one for me. For so long, all I wanted to do was live alone, but it always made more sense to live with a roommate for finance-sake. When I finally had the opportunity to have my own apartment, I was so happy. Even though it meant I had to go to the expense of all the furniture I didn’t have, it was totally worth it.
- I ran a few half-marathons. I picked up running after a big event in my life as a way to feel free and prove to myself I could do anything. I continued for a while to run long distances, and although I don’t typically run more than six miles at a time these days, I know I could (with some training). I appreciate running to help me stay in shape and for so many other mental benefits, but I realized that shorter distances and non-timed runs are more my thing than running competitions.
- We went on a helicopter ride over Kuai. Such a gorgeous island and an unbelievable memory.
- I fell in love in New York. Not everyone can name the time when they fell in love with someone, but I can. Sean and I went to New York in the fall a few months after we met. It was then I knew he was the one I wanted to marry.
- I’ve changed jobs enough to keep my resume and interview skills up to par. Some would say I’ve changed jobs too frequently while others would say it’s the nature of the industry. I prefer the latter’s opinion.
- I know what it feels like to be an adult, but still want your mom. A few times throughout my life, there is just one person who you want to comfort you or to cheer you on, in times of grief or in times of happiness. I look forward to not only being a mother but also a best friend to my kids one day too.
- I am happy.