Today is my thirtieth birthday.

Isn’t that crazy? I’ve been on this planet for three decades, and in that time, I feel like I’ve already done so much. I didn’t make myself any sort of checklist of things I felt like I needed to do. Instead, I decided to reflect back on thirty of the interesting, unique, and totally normal things I’ve done in the last thirty years.

  1. I’ve visited 30 states (one for each year!) out of 50, as well as DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. I’ve been to Mexico, Belize, The Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Bonaire, Aruba, Martinique, and Barbados.
  2. I spent five days and four nights canoeing on the Delaware River with fellow Girl Scouts, sleeping in pitched tents, storing everything in dry bags, and cooking our own meals
  3. I left my gymnastics comfort zone to become a varsity cheerleader in college, where I learned to tumble on a gym floor (ouch!) and learned more about the rules of basketball than I care to know.
  4. I learned to sail first small boats, then larger boats. I sailed to state and national parks, and slept under the stars on the hull for three nights.
  5. I’ve gone scuba diving in lakes, oceans, quarries, and seas. I’ve seen shipwrecks, sunken vehicles, and coral reefs. I swam with sharks, sea turtles, rays, thousands of fish, and almost died getting stung by a jellyfish 100 feet below the surface.
  6. I’ve been to Disney World more times than I can count, watched hours of stage shows, rode on hundreds of attractions thousands of times, quote pre-shows and ride scripts daily, and got the chance to compare parks when I visited Disneyland.
  7. I’ve visited in awe gorgeous natural wonders, like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite Valley, giant sequoia trees, and tremendous waterfalls. I’ve hiked up many (not too high) mountains and admired the view from the top.
  8. I’ve fallen in love with the most amazing dog in the entire world, who rescued me just when I needed her most.
  9. After multiple failed long term relationships with guys that just weren’t quite right, I found a man who truly gets me and loves me for it, so I married him!
  10. I moved across the country for a job. After a year, I realized it wasn’t the right place for me culturally, and so I left and moved back to the comforts of the east coast.
  11. I’ve performed on stage as an actor in a number of plays and musicals throughout elementary school and middle school. My first line was “These sausages are moldy!” in a British accent, when I played an orphan in Oliver.
  12. I was a gymnast for my entire young life, and while I was never overly successful, the sport taught me more about self confidence, hard work, and discipline than anything else I’ve ever done.
  13. I created (with friends) a fake fraternity, which we used to prank a real frat on campus, with the most wholesome pranks in the world, like leaving them muffins and a cake. They hated us, but also loved the cake.
  14. I faced true failure for the first time in my life, when after college I was not accepted into any graduate programs. It meant that I needed to rethink my entire future career path, but overall, I think it was for the best. I’d still be in school if I had made it!
  15. Starting with simple basics like vanilla cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies, I learned to bake. I experimented with flavors and techniques, and continue to have both failures and successes. I am most proud of my pear pie, still the best I’ve ever tasted.
  16. I went from not even being able to boil water to a really good cook. I read recipes and cookbooks, and experimented with ingredients and seasonings. Anyone who meets me now would have no clue that I didn’t grow up cooking all the time.
  17. I’ve lived in and subsequently decorated five apartments, with furniture ranging from a free dumpster-dove desk to real adult financed purchases like the most comfortable couch ever.
  18. I tried and failed personal blogging so many times, and here I am again. I’ve learned not to put so much pressure on myself, and to put in the focus when it feels right. It’s not my career, and it should be fun!
  19. I started so many projects I will never finish.
  20. I’ve been writing creatively since I was in middle school. I’ve penned songs, almost an entire musical, short stories, and part of a novel, which I do hope to finish someday.
  21. I planned an entire wedding for myself. I surrounded myself with a good team of people, so it hardly even felt stressful most of the time. I wrote the ceremony, DIY’d decorations, and planned the entire welcome potluck dessert party on my own.
  22. I got a college degree in photography, which I’ve since used to mostly take pictures of my dog and food I cook and bake. It did help me get a job out in Arizona.
  23. I’ve attended professional football, baseball, and hockey games. I went from absolutely hating baseball to tolerating a game (if there’s ice cream in a helmet), found a love for hockey, and am pretty ambivalent toward football in general.
  24. Starting with Les Miserables when I was eight, I’ve seen over a dozen musicals (and one play!) on Broadway, seeing some of the most amazing performers live, and somehow managing to always see understudies went we went for big names.
  25. I’ve slept on friends couches, in cots in a platform tent, and in king size beds in glamorous hotels, on airplanes, boats, and in cars. I’ve discovered that bringing my own pillow can make any of those a great night’s sleep.
  26. I’ve invented games, and play tested them on family and friends. I realized in this process that I have an imagination and sense of humor that fewer people get.
  27. I’ve lived with people I love that are still lifelong friends, and people I couldn’t stand that I’ll be okay to never see again. I once was one of eleven college kids living in a three bedroom one bath apartment. It was an experience I do not wish to repeat.
  28. I created a niche blog and grew a following on social media, and then abandoned it when I realized it didn’t really feel like I was being myself.
  29. I once entered and won a trivia contest to meet one of my favorite musicians. I told him a story about seeing him in concert years earlier, and how we held up signs to play our favorite song, but we forgot the sign for the letter T. He said he didn’t remember, but he loved the story about all the crazy things I had to do to get duct tape at the concert, including cartwheels and procuring food for other bands.
  30. I dreamed about so many potential futures and career paths, from marine biology, underwater photography, magazine design, the person who chooses music for tv shows, and more. I’ll never be any of those people, but maybe there’s an alternate universe where I am.

There are so many other little things I’ve done, and so many more that I’ve yet to do. I have places to visit, mountains to climb, desserts to bake, and new adventures ahead. Happy birthday to me! Here’s to the next 30 accomplishments!

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8 thoughts on “Thirty Before 30

  1. I love this twist on the usual 30 before 30. I think we are all so ambitious, which is a good thing but sometimes we forget to appreciate and recall all that we HAVE done and accomplished. Like you I have also started MANY projects I’ll never complete and dreamed of SO many career paths that I cannot possibly chase all of those dreams. Happy 30th, hoping you adventure more, love more and learn more in the years to come <3

    1. Thanks so much! I’ll admit, it started because I was planning a wedding for the last year plus, and I had no time to make an ambitious list! I like to think about all those unfinished paths and wonder who that person would be, but at the same time I’m proud of the things I have done.

  2. I love writing lists of things you’ve already done, instead of what you want to do, as it’s great to reflect on the awesome life you’ve lived so far! I can’t believe you’ve gone scuba diving so much, I would LOVE to do that!

    1. Thanks! It was a geeky girl blog that I ran along with my sister called Girls Are Geeks. It’s still live and my sister occasionally posts, but it turns out I’m not actually as traditionally geeky as we thought!

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