Three years ago, right around this time, I sat down at my dining room table with a notebook. It was the week before my 24th birthday, and I was depressed. I had been in the “real world” for approximately six months, and I felt like I was failing miserably at it. I don’t really know what I was expecting – after being in college and insulated from real life problems, it was a bit jolting to realize that adulthood was not the glamorous time I had daydreamed about. I was in a new city, I was incredibly lonely, and I was still emotionally scarred from the accident I had been in that January, which meant I didn’t want to drive anywhere.
I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything with my life, and going on Facebook and seeing people post pictures of their fantastic lives only made it worse. I was tired of being a spectator in my own life. I was tired of feeling like I was always going to be in the same place every single year. So I took my notebook and made a list of things I wanted to accomplish by my 26th birthday in 2010. The rule for my list was I could not accomplish these events with someone like a boyfriend – they had to be done for myself, by myself.
After awhile, I had forgotten about my list, but as my time in the “real world” progressed, I realized that jealousy was a useless emotion unless I used it to change my life. This song became my new philosophy:
How could I expect to live a happier life if I wasn’t even trying? How could I expect anything out of life if I wasn’t putting some work into it first? You get what you give. If you sit on your couch at night and do nothing, then you will get nothing. Friends don’t knock at your door randomly. Opportunities don’t just fall into your lap if you never leave your apartment.
Recently, I found the notebook that contained that list and read over the items. Admittedly, many of the items were overly ambitious, but I smiled at the ones I did accomplish, like, “Visit NYC” (even though I technically made that visit two months after the list’s deadline). Three years ago, I had no idea what was in store for me. Once I started investing time into making my life worthwhile, I became a much happier person – who would have thought?
The sad girl sitting at her dining room table and feeling like her life was full of wasted opportunities seems like a lifetime ago. With my 27th birthday looming, there’s still a lot I’d like to accomplish before 30 – enough for me to make a new list of things to do. But unlike the person I was three years ago, I no longer think I’ve wasted my life. I’m pretty proud of the past three years – I’ve lived more in those three years than I have my entire life. All I had to do was give a little.