What wasn’t helping me feel better about reaching this so-called milestone were the “things to have done by the time you’re 21/25/30/40” checklists and the ever-popular “bucket lists.” (God, I hate that phrase. I don’t like the word bucket for starters, and it seems either weirdly arrogant; like you have any say in when you’re going to die, or profoundly sad; like you’re a kid in the Make-A-Wish Foundation program.)
Anyway! A year has gone by since then, and it turned out that forty wasn’t such a big deal after all. I’m still awesome, and I’m still stumbling around with no idea what the hell I’m doing most of the time. Business as usual.
|I'm really sorry you had to see this. Also, it's not true.|
So I say we dispense with those other lifelong-to-do lists entirely. All they do is make you feel bad for whatever supposedly important/magical things you haven’t achieved yet:
- “Have a substantial nest egg.” Oh shit, I must be a terrible person to not have a pile of money at my age.
- “Swim with dolphins.” Um, okay, but I think I’d rather just leave them alone.
- “Have a one-night stand?” ONE!? Is this even a thing?
- “Ride a rollercoaster." Who gives a shit?
- “Buy a Birkin/Rolex/diamond ring/pair of Manolos.” Oh, go piss up a rope.
|"God, get off me, bitch!"|
Rather than chart what other people should do by the time they’re any age, I suggest you look at your birthday this year as an opportunity to look back over all the great and interesting things you’ve accomplished in your life so far. It’s infinitely more random and rewarding. One size does not fit all (especially when it comes to swimming with dolphins), so write down your own unique and amazing story.
Here’s mine. It only took a few minutes. I’m sure there are loads of wonderful things I forgot to include, but maybe I’ll remember them next year.
Things I’ve done by 41
- Forgot most of everything that seemed like a huge deal in high school
- Got married
- Had a kid who turned out just swell
- Got divorced
- Buried a parent
- Got married again
- Went on welfare
- Got off welfare
- Sowed my wild oats
- Ran a small business
- Ran that business into the ground
- Went back to shcool
- Figured out my “dream job”
- Figured out that my “dream job” is actually the hardest job of all
- Amassed an impressive collection of abdominal scars
- Still wear a bikini
- Learned how to cook some nice things
- Set a kitchen on fire
- Made some terrifically, jaw-droppingly ill-advised decisions
- Gave my heart away to people who didn’t deserve it
- Got it back again
- Felt the depths of depression and despair
- Went into therapy
- Caught a fish and ate it
- Wrote and published two books
- Watched a beloved friend give birth
- Discovered I know things that people want to learn
- Started sharing those things
- Lived half my life with a weird autoimmune disorder and never (okay, hardly ever) let it stop it from doing anything awesome
- Learned to appreciate scotch
- Learned to apply false eyelashes
- Spent two weeks in relative solitude and didn’t go crazy
- Got comfortable with the idea that I don’t know everything, won’t ever know everything, and that other people might not feel exactly the way I do about everything
- Laughed loudly and often
- Loved my friends and my family more than I could ever tell them
- Realized how much they love me back
- Began to realize I deserve it.
So...what's on your list?