“25 x 25”: THE FINAL POST

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Hellooooooo, 25! I’m already thinking big thoughts with you. It’s been about two weeks since my big quarter-of-a-century day and things have been great so far! Lots of positive vibes and fun nights spent with family and friends. But I need to wrap up my 25 x 25 list! To recap, this is a bucket list of 25 things I wanted to do before I turned 25. It was definitely a tough year on me, but there were so many good things too. Besides, I’d like to think that the tough times have made me stronger.

Here’s a final look at the list that accompanied me through life as a 24-year-old:

1 –  Get my Chicago tattoo and/or writing-related tattoo
No tats yet, as I’ve had some second-guessing. But I finally got my ears double-pierced. Tiny accomplishment! 

2 – Get into a yoga/running routine (and stick to it for at least 3 months)
I stuck to a running routine from September through November (then it got too cold and I’m not a treadmill kind of girl). From March through June, I stuck to a sort-of yoga routine. I found a class that left me feeling both strong and balanced and I’m excited to re-enroll after the chaos of summer subsides so I can get back into it!

3 – No longer be in debt
This is a huge accomplishment for me. I officially paid off my debt as of May. Now it’s time to master the art of “saving up.”

4 – Visit Lauren & Kaitlyn at SLU, IWU at least twice, see Jess once
I went to Lauren and Kaitlyn’s Theta Family Weekend and a Blackhawks game in STL (check). I visited IWU for Lauren’s 21st birthday and for Homecoming Weekend, where I participated in Brad’s proposal (huge check). I didn’t get to see Jess once. I GOT TO SEE HER TWICE AND I’M STILL OVERWHELMED AND EXCITED ABOUT THIS. Jess, Lukasz, and Kayla drove 14 hours to spend a long weekend in Chicago this past December. We spent New Years together and explored the city in negative temps. This past May, I used points to fly myself out to Jersey, where I got to hang out with Jess and the NJ crew for a long weekend (which included surprising Eric at his BBQ).

5 – Give vlogging a chance
Within the last year, this is something I’ve changed my mind about. It’s something I’m less interested in. Maybe I’ll give it a shot if/when the time feels right, but it’s not where I’m at right now.

6 – Keep up with my current 365 project
I kept up with taking photos, but did not keep up with posting. Oops. This is something to continue working on. It’s a project that has been near and dear to me for the last five years. I have no intention of abandoning it any time soon.

7 – Learn to be less critical of myself/compare myself less to other girls/friends/bloggers etc.
This is an ongoing thing, but I’ve definitely made progress. I have been actively making a point to stop myself from being so critical. I mean, I’ve always prided myself on doing my own thing and following my own path. Why would I not do my own thing when it comes to myself and my confidence? Yes, I have days where I wonder why I’m “not like her” and why “I don’t have my life together like she does.” But no progress comes from thinking that way.

8 – Make it to 5 concerts (at least three bands I haven’t seen before)
Easy! Out of the following, eleven bands I hadn’t seen before: Monumentour (Paramore & Fall Out Boy), Gavin DeGraw & Matt Nathanson & Andrew McMahon, KONGOS & Young Rising Sons, You Me At Six, Grizfolk & Bastille, The Night We Stole Xmas (Meg Myers, Vancy Joy, KONGOS, & Walk The Moon), Joe Renardo, The Wind and The Wave, and Bobby Long. It was a really good year for me and live music.

9 – Start writing poetry again
This is another thing that has not been syncing with me. My head has not been in the right space for it. New goal: start reading poetry again. Then start writing again. 

10 – Go out more often. Do things. (Kick the anxiety.)
Any time (okay, maybe more like 75% of the time) I’ve been invited out somewhere, I’ve gone. This is a long list, so bear with me: I finally made it to Summer House Santa Monica with Susan. I went to lots of concerts (some even by myself). I went out for tapas in the city with Amanda and Mary. I did my annual Sprinkles & Skyline night out with Gabby. I went to Brookfield Zoo with Mary and Sarah. I went up to Lake Geneva for a day with Lauren and Kaitlyn. I went to Mary’s going away party downtown. I went out for Lauren’s 21st in Bloomington. I went up to Milwaukee to do fall things with Adam. I met GRACE HELBIG HERSELF IN REAL LIFE. I went out on a whim with Gabby and John. I spent Halloween in Milwaukee (dressed as THE cool cats, Britt and Jeff, from Community). I went tailgating in Naperville with Amanda. I went out for Gabby’s birthday. I went out in Lincoln Park for Susan’s birthday. I did an overnighter in The Dells with the sibs. I had four jam packed days of Chicago adventures in Chicago with my NJ fam. I finally met Joe and saw him play a show. I saw and met The Wind And The Wave (bonus: joined their street team shortly after!), I made it downtown for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. I had a really fun time socializing and meeting new people at Brad’s St. Patrick’s party. I spontaneously visited STL to hang out with Theresa. I saw and met Bobby Long at SPACE again. I drove up to Wisconsin to visit Amanda. I saw the Blackhawks dressing room. I met my writing heroine, Sarah Dessen. I flew to New Jersey for 5 days and had the most amazing time ever with the best people ever. I did the Color Run (and a handful of other 5Ks). I’ve been planning a million wedding-related things too. The anxiety is still present, but I’m kicking it whenever I can.

11 – Drink more tea/water
Such a simple thing, but I did accomplish it! I’m finally drinking more water and making a point to do it on a daily basis. I can tell how much better I feel when I do.

12- Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)
I think I fell a little bit in love with my NJ fam while in South Jersey. I just kept sitting back and realizing what an incredible group of people they are. I feel like I belong when I’m around them. South Jersey is one of the first places I’ve traveled to in the States that still feels like home, despite how far away it is.

13 – Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive way
I officially met Lukasz in December, Joe in January, and Madia in May. I’ve known them all online before getting to meet them in person. But each one has impacted my life in a way.

14 – Take a drive to Nashville for a weekend
The weather hasn’t cooperated with these plans, but it’s not leaving the list until I make it there! 

15 – Get a full-time job
I started full-time at my job in April! Plus I started writing part-time for Literally, Darling. 

16 – Make a stranger laugh
I actually pulled this one off recently. I told the guy at my local pizza place that my mom made me bring her coupon even though I knew I didn’t need to. I got a laugh out of him. Check!

17 – Do/try something new. Anything. (i.e. wake boarding)
Admittedly, I don’t think I tried many new things in the last year. I did give wake boarding a few attempts at the end of last summer. It didn’t go well, but it was something I was terrified of. My chicken arms just weren’t feelin’ it. Oh! I started two new daily projects– on my birthday last year, I started answering my “Q&A A Day” book, the other is something I started on January 1st– it’s called “1 Page At A Time” by Adam JK. Every day, I fill out a page. So far, it’s been a fun way to document this year. 

18 – Run a 5k (with few stops… maybe under 40 minutes?)
Big Dawg Dare, Hot Chocolate 5K, Turkey Trot, Color Run. I didn’t finish any in under 40 minutes though. I’m not giving up on that goal yet!

19 – Learn to cook/bake more
I taught myself how to make soft pretzels (watch out, Auntie Anne’s), fudge brownies from scratch, and elephant ears. I’ve also mastered the art of making Grandpa’s pancakes. I think he’d be proud.

20 – Do something for myself
I took a trip to New Jersey for a weekend to surprise Eric and his BBQ after I jokingly told him I’d be there. It was a much needed, much enjoyed trip.

21 – Go to the planetarium, aquarium, and a Blackhawks game in Chicago
I went to Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo, a Blackhawks game in Chicago and Saint Louis. I didn’t make it to the planetarium or aquarium, but I still would love to visit both. Maybe in the next year!

22 – Watch the sunset and the sunrise over the city
This is a big item on my list that I’m bummed about missing out on. I will absolutely make it happen in the next year. 

23 – Move out (esp. with Amanda)
Amanda pulled it off! She moved out to take her dream job. I’ve decided I’m going to take some time to save up so I can afford to move somewhere cool (ie Lincoln Park, Evanston, New Jersey, Australia… WHO KNOWS!)

24 – Learn something new
I’m cheating a little bit on this one: I’ve learned a lot about myself and my anxiety in the last year. I’ve learned even more about what I want in a relationship. Since working full time, I’ve learned a lot of new stuff in my position. So no, nothing like calligraphy (like last year), but I’m learning. I’m always learning. I never want to stop learning.

25 – Read 24 books
I only read 11 books. Not going to lie, Netflix has been hogging a bit of my free evenings (at least I finally finished Gossip Girl…) xoxo

Total: 16 out of 25

But wait, there’s more!

Twenty-four. I really love that number. And I think I really loved being that age. It was a good year, for the most part (as you can see above). I made a lot of great memories, went to so many incredible concerts, met Patty (from TW+TW) and Sarah Dessen, etc. I mean, you can’t really beat that.

Twenty-four made me realize I need to be my own priority. But I should note that a lot of my good moments were balanced out by plenty of down moments. More accurately, I had about six months that were very down. I fell into a slump that left me feeling extremely anxious and depressed. I can’t remember ever feeling the way I did in that span of time. I didn’t want to leave my bedroom. My family, despite their efforts to motivate me, became enemies. I didn’t want to take care of myself. I was letting them down. I was letting myself down.

At the same time, I remember constantly comparing my present-day self to my 23-year-old self. I was happier at 23, I made it to Australia at 23, I grew so much while I was 23. Why am I not happy at 24? It wasn’t healthy. I know that now and I knew it then. I don’t want to use those months as an excuse for why I didn’t accomplish as much of my list as I wanted to, but the reality is, I didn’t feel motivated. I felt mentally and physically strapped down. This list was not a priority. My goals were not important to me. The whole reason I write a yearly list is to push myself to accomplish more things while in my twenties. For six months, I was being pushed and I had no energy to push back.

I don’t know when I started to rise out of that slump, but I think it had a lot to do with starting yoga and beginning to work full-time. My energy was slowly shifted to more positive things. My parents were no longer on my case about getting a job. I was feeling motivated to make it to yoga. I was actively wanting to take care of myself. I made plans to travel to New Jersey to see Jess & her friends. It took a lot of little things to balance out the few heavy things weighing me down, but I did make it out.

This is not to say I don’t still struggle to this day. This is me acknowledging that 24 was hard and 25 will likely bring some dark days as well. But I think I’m less afraid now. At this point, I’m excited for what 25 will bring, whatever that may be. I’m ready to put myself first. I’m ready to celebrate my sister getting married. I’m ready to explore Chicago more than I ever have before. I’m ready to get into new hobbies and learn new things. I’m ready to grow as a writer. I’m beyond ready to see Twenty One Pilots live in a few weeks.

So, thank you, 24. You made me stronger, you made me less afraid. Hello, 25. It’s time to think bigger and brighter.

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