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This week, I turn 29 years old. 29. For you math majors out there, that’s almost 30 aka the widely accepted age at which one would be considered an actual adult. Thinking back to myself as a young lad, I thought that by 30 I would have all my shit together. I’d be married, have the kids, house, dog, great job, American dream right?
Well, as it turns out, at 29 I don’t feel any more an adult than I did at 16 or 23. Sure I have a fantastic job, a nice house, and am generally doing alright for myself, but there is still so much that I thought I would have done before I finally became an adult. That’s not to say that I squandered all my 20s; I had a lot of fun, made great friends, had great relationships, and had incredible experiences. However, I don’t feel like I got to do all the stupid, fun, carefree things that I could have during the last gasp of my youth. Part of this was due to my own cynicism or fear, but it was also my own drive to be successful and accomplished pushing other considerations aside. Now that time is almost up, I’ve started to wonder what it is I wanted to accomplish.
One of the first things was investing in myself and my voice through writing, a passion I never really thought would be more than a self-indulgent exercise. This led to this great gig (shouts to Will and Dave who gave me so much guidance when I was starting, I owe you both copious drinks when we do meet) and a whole community of you wacky, lovable PGPers. Knowing that there are so many people out there who appreciate my unique perspective on things, or at least don’t mock me too badly when laughing at my misery, is one of the best things I’ve ever done. Now, I want your help.
I have one year left. 365 days to do some real, quality living, and I want to hear about some of the best experiences from those of you who lived it. Don’t worry, these aren’t some BS “20s bucket list” ideas like start a 401(k), start meditating, or some other crap that people believe will somehow make my 20s complete. These are superficial, tangible, events and accomplishments that I want to experience while I still have the time and a fully-functioning liver.
Before you wise-achers get some ideas, I’m not doing anything illegal, prohibitively expensive, or amoral. These are positive life experiences that I have never had, and am open to experiencing, and want insight into before I take the plunge. I have some ideas in mind for myself, but I’m also flexible if anyone has any other life-changing experiences I haven’t thought up. For your consideration, here are a few of the things on my to-do list before 30 hits.
1. Up My Instagram Game
I am shitty at Insta folks. Like taking photos, posting photos, filters (are filters even still a thing?), stories, it’s all borderline witchcraft to me. Part of this goal ties into the “making the most out of this year” because if I’m going to do cool shit I might as well go full attention-seeking millennial right?
In seriousness, upping my Insta game is largely for accountability; I want everyone who is interested in this journey (if anyone even is) to be able to see me trying new stuff. And, if I’m being too much of a slouch, call me out on it. One of the big reasons for not being good on the ‘Gram is feeling like my life isn’t interesting enough to be worthy of posting. That changes now.
2. Get a Tattoo
I’ve hemmed and hawed about doing this for a while. Publicly, I’ve always said that I wouldn’t get a tattoo because it’s not professional and because I don’t have anything meaningful enough to have permanently etched on my body. In truth, all of this is kind of bullshit; I’ve wanted to get a tattoo but been afraid because I don’t like needles or pain.
I have the good sense not to get any ink above the neck or below my belly button, and it’s not going to be a full-arm sleeve deal. In all likelihood, it would be somewhere easily concealable, not visible when dressed professionally, and small. My main reason for biting the bullet on this is the tat I have in mind relates to a story my grandfather used to tell me when I was little, and it’s probably the most badass thing I’ve ever done.
3. Go to a Music Festival
Not one where all the 20-year-olds are barely wearing clothes and dropping Molly. I want a life-changing experience, not a life-ending one. Instead, I’m thinking a day-long or possibly two day series of concerts that isn’t too much of a hike from me. This one was inspired by the recent death of Chester Bennington, frontman of Linkin Park and one of my all-time favorite bands (scoff if you want but Meteora is a near-perfect album). I had a bunch of chances to see him live before he died, and I never took advantage. Now, I’ve missed that chance.
In truth, I haven’t been to a proper concert in basically my entire adult life. I’ve been to clubs where bands I knew were playing, but seeing them was largely happenstance to my desire to drink around that location. I want to find myself in an open field under a cloudless sky, a beer in my hand, and be experiencing some great music this year.
4. Lose the Last 20
I’ve previously alluded to this with my attempt to overcome the boogeyman that is running, but I’ve been trying to get healthy for the last several months. Right now, I’m about 20 pounds over where I need to be, and 30 where I want to be. By the time I hit the big three-oh, I want to be able to look myself in the mirror naked and say “not too bad.”
So I’ll be doing the Leangains Intermittent Fasting program from here on out. Since I’ve repeatedly failed to stop myself from eating trash and drinking to lose weight, I’ll have to try the next logical progression: completely abstain from eating anything for 16 hours a day.
5. Travel Alone
This is probably a shocking one, given my past stance towards travel. I haven’t changed my attitude, especially following several road trips with friends and family over the summer. However, I have never taken a trip with just myself. I think this might be something for the winter-time, like late February or March, when I’ll just drive south and stay on the beach for a few days. Who knows? Maybe I’ve just hated traveling because no one else will let me relax and enjoy it.
6. Finish the Book
Every writer, every single one, is working on a book (or screenplay, collection of poetry, etc.) and I, of course, am no different. I’ve had several ideas kicking around for years. I’ll start one, get bored of it, start another, come back to the first, start a third, delete the second because I hate it now, in an unending cycle. I’ve probably written three or four whole books in my life so far, just in parts of eight or nine stories.
Well, this is the year. I’ve picked the one that I’ve done the most work with. Where I feel like I really fleshed out the characters, am writing something that’s unique and fun, yet profound. It’s sci-fi with political commentary. It’s Judge Dredd plus Alien plus Citizen Kane plus A Few Good Men, with inspiration from a dozen of my other favorite stories sprinkled in. I’ve already planned the whole thing, mapped the story from beginning to end. I don’t care if I grow to loathe the characters and think the story is the literary equivalent of diarrhea. I’m finishing a full draft by thirty.
7. Fall in Love
I’ve been with my fair share of ladies. I’ve dated. I’ve dated the same girl long enough to be called a “relationship” by outsiders, even though I’ve not said those words myself. However, I can definitively say I’ve never been in love. This isn’t to diminish my wonderful family, friends, and the amazing people who made the first 29 years of my life what they were because I love you all. But the fact of the matter is I’ve never felt, as Elvis would say, that “All my dreams fulfilled, For my darling I love you, And I always will.”
Realistically, this is the hardest on the list to accomplish. I’d have to actually meet a woman who I’m interested in and, even less likely, could tolerate me for more than three consecutive hours. But you know what, for all my cynicism, deep-down I’m some idiotic hopeless romantic like Ted Mosby who thinks “she’s out there.” I’m especially fond of vocalizing this sentiment when I’m nine beers deep. So I’ll step up my Hinge game and be more on the lookout for those meet-cute moments. I just pray to God she’s not a Penguins fan..