“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.

25 x 25 (The Bucket List)

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This is my bucket list of 25 things to do before I turn 25. I wrote this in the months leading up to my birthday (this past July), but only just managed to finalize the list. Some are repeats from my “23” list, some are general goals, but all are things that will make me feel a little more accomplished by next year. As I complete things, I’ll probably post little blurbs/Instagram pictures as evidence!

1 –  Get my Chicago tattoo and/or writing-related tattoo
2 – Get into a yoga/running routine (and stick to it for at least 3 months)
3 – No longer be in debt
4 – Visit Lauren & Kaitlyn at SLU, Jaclynn in Ohio, IWU at least twice, see Jess once
5 – Give vlogging a chance
6 – Keep up with my current 365 project
7 – Learn to be less critical of myself/compare myself less to other girls/friends/bloggers etc.
8 – Make it to 5 concerts (at least three bands I haven’t seen before)
9 – Start writing poetry again
10 – Go out more often. Do things. (Kick the anxiety.)
11 – Drink more tea/water
12- Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)
13 – Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive way
14 – Take a drive to Nashville for a weekend
15 – Get a full-time job
16 – Make a stranger laugh
17 – Do/try something new. Anything. (i.e. wake boarding)
18 – Run a 5k (with few stops… maybe under 40 minutes?)
19 – Learn to cook/bake more
20 – Do something for myself
21 – Go to the planetarium, aquarium, and a Blackhawks game in Chicago
22 – Watch the sunset and the sunrise over the city
23 – Move out (esp. with Amanda)
24 – Learn something new
25 – Read 24 books

“23”: THE FINAL POST

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That’s it! I’m officially 24 as of today *insert belated July 4th fireworks here* (well, technically I have until this evening, but let’s not get that technical for the sake of simplicity, which I’m becoming a fan of more and more these days). Here’s where my “23” bucket list stands on it’s last day:

1. Leave my job at IB

2. Get a new job (and love it) — I got a new job and I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love it. It’s not what I had in mind when I wrote this list, but it’s a new job nonetheless. And I’m using it as motivation to continue looking for the job that I’ll be proud to say I love.

3. Go back to Australia (to study, work, or take a vacation)I DID IT. I MADE IT BACK TO AUSTRALIA, TOOK A MONTH-LONG DREAM VACATION AND MANAGED TO CROSS OFF A LOT OF THIS LIST. I’M STILL IN DISBELIEF, BUT IT HAPPENED AND IT WAS AMAZING!

4. Meet and hang out with BlakeThis might be the one thing on my list I’m more excited about than the fact that I actually was in Australia. I’ve known Blake for a couple of years now and in that time, he’s become one of my best friends. We met on tumblr, so it’s been a dream of mine to meet my best-friend-across-the-world. We met and then eventually, we hung out— it was the best. Highlight of my week in Sydney, hands down.

5. Get my first tattoo — I’ve at least picked what I’d like my first one to be (officially)

6. Hang out with Jessica (in NYC, NJ, or Chicago) again, without the anxiety this time

7. Visit California (esp. San Clemente & Kristen Stewart’s handprints @ TCL)Ok, this one’s a stretch, but I did make it to Cali. Granted, it was just a layover at LAX. But I paid for the flights and I was there, so…. the “esp.” will just have to make it onto my next bucket list.

8. Get paid to write

9. Go on vacation with Amanda — Our New Years Eve trip turned into a bit of a vacation… it’s a stretch, but we did spend 5 days together + 7 hours driving!

10. Run a 5K (with a few stops at most)I did the Color Run in Chicago on June 8th and even though we technically walked the entire thing (with a few bursts of running at most), it was the most fun I’ve had at a 5K and that’s an accomplishment itself.

11. Do/try something new/spontaneous. Anything.I went scuba diving on a total whim and it was the most unreal, thrilling 45 minutes of my life.

12. Learn something newSo far: calligraphy and how to make guacamole. And guess what? I’ve had so much fun with both of these things that I was reminded of how great it feels to learn something new.

13. Meet someone famous (actor/musician/writer/athlete)I met Sophia Bush on November 6th!

14. Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive wayI’ve been waiting to cross this one off, because it’s a big one. But between the people I met in Australia, my dear friend Blake, and the guy I dated for a few months, my life has been impacted in a positive way.

15. Impact someone’s life in a positive wayI talked to Amanda about this one back in March(ish) when she asked what I had left on my list. This was one of them. It took her maybe half a second to say, “Are you crazy? Of course you’ve impacted someone’s life in a positive way!” And because of that, I’m crossing this one off.

16. Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)Get this: triple whammy. I fell in love with my dive instructor in the Great Barrier Reef while scuba diving with him. Ok, mostly joking about that. But I did manage to fall in love with a place on my trip: Sydney. This city is beautiful and it was ridiculously hard to say goodbye.

17. Finally finish my Invisalign treatment

18. Man up and get my wisdom teeth pulled

19. Go on a date (and maybe a second?!)

20. See the Blackhawks play in Nashville OR see the Western Sydney Wanderers play in MelbourneThis item is no longer possible, BUT I’m giving myself another exception here: I saw Hamish Blake IN REAL LIFE perform in a comedy show as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival, which, let’s be honest, was way more exciting for me than a soccer game would have been.

21. Do something for myselfI put all of my money into my trip to Australia and while it was a crazy thing to do financially, it was a gift to myself. I’ve been struggling to focus on where I want to head on my career path, so I took a month off to see what else is out there. My month abroad was SO different from the first time I traveled abroad alone. It was a new experience to explore on my own, create my own schedule, take a trip with strangers who became friends, and re-connect with old friends. It’s not about the money at all. It’s about the fact that I went on an actual adventure that has made me appreciate everything I have and everyone I know so much more than I did before. And now I feel more energized to figure out where I need to go from here.

22. Read a total of 23 books (I read 13.5, which is a big deal for me tbh)

23. Find a new favorite spot in ChicagoI waited til the end of my bucket list time frame to give myself a chance to explore. I thought back to the months I spent interning for The Everygirl and thought of how much I loved Lincoln Park (especially seeing the building where my Grandpa grew up, because the universe does crazy things like that), but my favorite spot was standing on a Brown Line el headed toward the city. It’s not a skyline view you can get unless you’re elevated and I think it’s safe to say that’s my new favorite spot in Chicago.

Total: 18 out of 23

Now before you go, let’s chat.

Looking back at 23, I realize what a great year it was for me: I landed a dream internship, where I got the opportunity to write about music for a huge audience. I pushed my writing boundaries and learned how to write interview questions. I met some really awesome interns who became friends. I saved up enough money to fly myself back to my favorite place in the entire world. I got to visit friends I hadn’t seen in three years and show my sister around where I lived in Melbourne. I got to meet one of my best friends across the world. I met a ton of amazing, inspiring people. I did something that actually still scares the crap out of me and loved every terrifying second of it. I became closer with certain friends. I kept up traditions and made new ones. I went on a date with a guy and ended up dating him for six months. I tried new things, learned new things, ate new things. Generally speaking, I genuinely believe I have grown up a lot over the last 365 days.

Writing this list of things to accomplish in a year not only motivated me to try harder, but also to try new. I like familiar. I tend to stick to things I know, people I know, and places I know. As I go about navigating 24, I plan to do 25 things that will push me to grow even more. Of course, I’ll stick to some familiar things, but I can’t wait to meet more people, date new people, discover new writers and musicians, find a job that makes me feel fulfilled at the end of the day, and hopefully get to know myself better. I always roll my eyes when people say “you need to love yourself before you let someone love you.” And I was always impatient about finding someone to fall in love with. But I’m starting to accept that the universe has a way of doing things that bump you into place, despite the bruises and confusion along the way. I’m learning to love who I am and not roll my eyes when someone compliments me, because guess what? I am pretty awesome.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve already begun writing my “25 by 25” list. It’s in the works, as it likely will continue to be for a couple of months. Even if I don’t finish everything on that list either, I’m excited to see where 24 will take me– or more likely, where I decide to take 24. Despite all of the positivity up there, I had a lot of doubtful, lost moments as a 23-year-old, but I’m actually ready for 24. I’m prepared to have moments of doubt and fear. What I’m finding to be the most important is that I didn’t rush it. Which is why I don’t plan to rush 25 either. After all, I have 25 things I need to accomplish before then!

“23”: Updated (15/23 complete) with only 18 days to go

1. Leave my job at IB

2. Get a new job (and love it)

3. Go back to Australia (to study, work, or take a vacation)I DID IT. I MADE IT BACK TO AUSTRALIA, TOOK A MONTH-LONG DREAM VACATION AND MANAGED TO CROSS OFF A LOT OF THIS LIST. I’M STILL IN DISBELIEF, BUT IT HAPPENED AND IT WAS AMAZING!

4. Meet and hang out with BlakeThis might be the one thing on my list I’m more excited about than the fact that I actually was in Australia. I’ve known Blake for a couple of years now and in that time, he’s become one of my best friends. We met on tumblr, so it’s been a dream of mine to meet my best-friend-across-the-world. We met and then eventually, we hung out— it was the best. Highlight of my week in Sydney, hands down.

5. Get my first tattoo — I’ve at least picked what I’d like my first one to be (officially)

6. Hang out with Jessica (in NYC, NJ, or Chicago) again, without the anxiety this time

7. Visit California (esp. San Clemente & Kristen Stewart’s handprints @ TCL)Ok, this one’s a stretch, but I did make it to Cali. Granted, it was just a layover at LAX. But I paid for the flights and I was there, so…. the “esp.” will just have to make it onto my next bucket list.

8. Get paid to write

9. Go on vacation with Amanda — Our New Years Eve trip turned into a bit of a vacation… it’s a stretch, but we did spend 5 days together + 7 hours driving!

10. Run a 5K (with a few stops at most)I did the Color Run in Chicago on June 8th and even though we technically walked the entire thing (with a few bursts of running at most), it was the most fun I’ve had at a 5K and that’s an accomplishment itself.

11. Do/try something new/spontaneous. Anything.I went scuba diving on a total whim and it was the most unreal, thrilling 45 minutes of my life.

12. Learn something new — So far: calligraphy and how to make guacamole. And guess what? I’ve had so much fun with both of these things that I was reminded of how great it feels to learn something new. Let’s see what else I can add here before next month.

13. Meet someone famous (actor/musician/writer/athlete)I met Sophia Bush on November 6th!

14. Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive wayI’ve been waiting to cross this one off, because it’s a big one. But between the people I met in Australia, my dear friend Blake, and the guy I dated for a few months, my life has been impacted in a positive way.

15. Impact someone’s life in a positive way

16. Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)Get this: triple whammy. I fell in love with my dive instructor in the Great Barrier Reef while scuba diving with him. Ok, mostly joking about that. But I did manage to fall in love with a place on my trip: Sydney. This city is beautiful and it was ridiculously hard to say goodbye.

17. Finally finish my Invisalign treatment

18. Man up and get my wisdom teeth pulled

19. Go on a date (and maybe a second?!)

20. See the Blackhawks play in Nashville OR see the Western Sydney Wanderers play in MelbourneThis item is no longer possible, BUT I’m giving myself another exception here: I saw Hamish Blake IN REAL LIFE perform in a comedy show, which let’s be honest, was way more exciting for me than a soccer game would have been.

21. Do something for myselfI put all of my money into my trip to Australia and while it was a crazy thing to do financially, it was a gift to myself. I’ve been struggling to focus on where I want to head on my career path, so I took a month off to see what else is out there. My month abroad was SO different from the first time I traveled abroad alone. It was a new experience to explore on my own, create my own schedule, take a trip with strangers who became friends, and re-connect with old friends. It’s not about the money at all. It’s about the fact that I went on an actual adventure that has made me appreciate everything I have and everyone I know so much more than I did before. And now I feel more energized to figure out where I need to go from here.

22. Read a total of 23 books

23. Find a new favorite spot in Chicago

Updates:
#10: The Color Run was an absolute blast and I’ve already come up with a team name for next year. Even though I really wanted to dedicate myself to running, it’s just not my thing. No matter how hard I try to train myself. We walked, we got colored, we had an awesome time. And it gave me an excuse to hang out with my best friends downtown on a Sunday morning. Win win.

#12: I’ve only dabbled in calligraphy thus far, but I’m not going to quit anytime soon. It’s surprisingly soothing! I turn on music, scribble out some lyrics, and see where things go. I’ve even tried watercolor calligraphy (not so smooth). Also learned how to make homemade guacamole and it was a hit with the family, so I think it’s just a sign that I should keep on learning in the kitchen while I’m at it!
Itty Bitty Reflection
Things are winding down and I’m realizing it definitely won’t be possible to complete everything, but looking back at what I have accomplished is exciting. And I feel like I didn’t let this year slip by like I have with previous years. Often times, I found myself rushing to turn another year older. I’ve embraced 23 and took the reins for a change.

In the spirit of bucket listing, I’ve already begun writing my “25 by 25” list (which I’ll hold off on posting until July). It’s in the works and even if I don’t finish everything on that list either, I’m actually looking forward to seeing what I’ll push myself to do. What improvements I’ll make. How I’ll grow as a person within a year. I’ve had my fair share of doubtful moments whilst 23, but seeing my next list come together already is already proving to myself that I’m motivated to move, change, grow, learn, etc.

On that note, the final “23” post will go up in about 18 days, when I’m officially 24 years old. How many more things can I scratch off before then? Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

“23”: Updated (13/23 complete–including a trip to Australia)

1. Leave my job at IB

2. Get a new job (and love it)

3. Go back to Australia (to study, work, or take a vacation)I DID IT. I MADE IT BACK TO AUSTRALIA, TOOK A MONTH-LONG DREAM VACATION AND MANAGED TO CROSS OFF A LOT OF THIS LIST. I’M STILL IN DISBELIEF, BUT IT HAPPENED AND IT WAS AMAZING!

4. Meet and hang out with BlakeThis might be the one thing on my list I’m more excited about than the fact that I actually was in Australia. I’ve known Blake for a couple of years now and in that time, he’s become one of my best friends. We met on tumblr, so it’s been a dream of mine to meet my best-friend-across-the-world. We met and then eventually, we hung out— it was the best. Highlight of my week in Sydney, hands down.

5. Get my first tattoo (if I’m feeling brave- second and third as well)

6. Hang out with Jessica (in NYC, NJ, or Chicago) again- without the anxiety this time

7. Visit California (esp. San Clemente & Kristen Stewart’s handprints @ TCL)Ok, this one’s a stretch, but I did make it to Cali. Granted, it was just a layover at LAX. But I paid for the flights and I was there, so…. the “esp.” will just have to make it onto my next bucket list.

8. Get paid to write

9. Go on vacation with Amanda — Our New Years Eve trip turned into a bit of a vacation… it’s a stretch, but we did spend 5 days together + 7 hours driving!

10. Run a 5K (with a few stops at most)

11. Do/try something new/spontaneous. Anything.I went scuba diving on a total whim and it was the most unreal, thrilling 45 minutes of my life.

12. Learn something new

13. Meet someone famous (actor/musician/writer/athlete)I met Sophia Bush on November 6th!

14. Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive wayI’ve been waiting to cross this one off, because it’s a big one. But between the people I met in Australia, my dear friend Blake, and the guy I dated for a few months, my life has been impacted in a positive way.

15. Impact someone’s life in a positive way

16. Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)Get this: triple whammy. I fell in love with my dive instructor in the Great Barrier Reef while scuba diving with him. Ok, mostly joking about that. But I did manage to fall in love with a place on my trip: Sydney. This city is beautiful and it was ridiculously hard to say goodbye.

17. Finally finish my Invisalign treatment — SLOWLY WORKING ON IT!

18. Man up and get my wisdom teeth pulled

19. Go on a date (and maybe a second?!)

20. See the Blackhawks play in Nashville OR see the Western Sydney Wanderers play in MelbourneThis item is no longer possible, BUT I’m giving myself another exception here: I saw Hamish Blake IN REAL LIFE perform in a comedy show, which let’s be honest, was way more exciting for me than a soccer game would have been.

21. Do something for myselfI put all of my money into my trip to Australia and while it was a crazy thing to do financially, it was a gift to myself. I’ve been struggling to focus on where I want to head on my career path, so I took a month off to see what else is out there. My month abroad was SO different from the first time I traveled abroad alone. It was a new experience to explore on my own, create my own schedule, take a trip with strangers who became friends, and re-connect with old friends. It’s not about the money at all. It’s about the fact that I went on an actual adventure that has made me appreciate everything I have and everyone I know so much more than I did before. And now I feel more energized to figure out where I need to go from here.

22. Read a total of 23 books — WORKING ON IT!

23. Find a new favorite spot in Chicago

Updates
So many things on my list are pending right now (and I’m not going to say which ones exactly, but there are approx. 11). Here’s a little breakdown:

  • #3: I can’t believe I made it back to Australia. Unreal.
  • #5: I didn’t have time to fit in a tattoo on my trip, but I don’t see why I can’t man-up and get it done here before I turn 24!
  • #11: I had a fear of scuba diving, so I only signed up to snorkel on my trip. I’d be lying if I said the dive instructor who talked to me about the “Discovery Dive” didn’t play a part in my decision, but I’m SO glad I did it. My dive was 45 minutes long and we went ~10 metres deep. And I pet a turtle, so.
  • #14: I met SO many people on my trip that I lost track of where they all are from. Hearing how so many of them are still in their teens and are exploring Australia by working/traveling was so inspiring. I wish I’d had the guts to do that at 18!
  • #16: The Great Barrier Reef. Seriously. Amazing.
  • #22: I’m really working hard on this one and it’s coming along slowly, but I’m determined to read 23 books

I have so much adrenaline, simply from writing this post. If you’ve never written a bucket list, do it. Even if you give yourself a time limit like I did– it really pushes you to make changes, take chances, and find adventures as you go. Now it’s time to focus on what I need to accomplish in the next two months.

 

Quickie Travel Update!

Hello hello!

I wanted to check in and fill in anyone who is actually curious about my Australia adventures thus far. I landed here 2.5 weeks ago and have since visited: Melbourne, Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, Gold Coast, Sydney, Alice Springs, and Uluru. Yeah, just a few places. Since landing, I have: gotten a stellar sunburn, eaten too many Tim Tams, met one of my best friends from tumblr in real life, reunited with my sister (who has been studying here since January), reunited with my Melbourne friends, pushed myself to be a little more adventurous, and made a handful of friends from all over the globe. My bucket list is getting its ass kicked and I’m SO pumped about it.

I’ve only got about 9 days left and they’ll be spent between Melbourne and Sydney. Currently, I’m writing from Melbourne and I’m just about the happiest I’ve been in a long time. Never have I ever felt a connection with a city (aside from sweet home Chicago) the way I do with Melbourne. Second home without a second thought.

Yesterday, I had a free day to spend by myself in Melbourne’s CBD. As soon as I got off the train at Flinders St. Station and walked outside, I had a “catch my breath” moment in the most literal way– being back, seeing a familiar landscape, and knowing exactly where I was/where I wanted to head– beyond amazing feeling. Even more amazing feeling? Writing/reading in cafes all afternoon. Ok, I’ll leave you with that for now. It’s late and I have lots of adventures to cram in over the next week and a half.

TL;DR… Destination Australia: Part Two has been amazing and leaving this time around might be even more difficult than the first time. And the next visit will be a semi-permanent one. 

“23”: Updated (5/23 complete + another update)

1. Leave my job at IB

2. Get a new job (and love it)

!!! 3. Go back to Australia (to study, work, or take a vacation)

4. Meet and hang out with Blake

5. Get my first tattoo (if I’m feeling brave- second and third as well)

6. Hang out with Jessica (in NYC, NJ, or Chicago) again- without the anxiety this time

7. Visit California (esp. San Clemente & Kristen Stewart’s handprints @ TCL)

8. Get paid to write

9. Go on vacation with Amanda Our New Years Eve trip turned into a bit of a vacation… it’s a stretch, but we did spend 5 days together + 7 hours driving!

10. Run a 5K (with a few stops at most)

11. Do/try something new/spontaneous. Anything.

12. Learn something new

13. Meet someone famous (actor/musician/writer/athlete) I met Sophia Bush on November 6th!

14. Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive way

15. Impact someone’s life in a positive way

16. Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)

17. Finally finish my Invisalign treatment

18. Man up and get my wisdom teeth pulled

19. Go on a date (and maybe a second?!)

20. See the Blackhawks play in Nashville OR see the Western Sydney Wanderers play in Melbourne

21. Do something for myself

22. Read a total of 23 books

23. Find a new favorite spot in Chicago

Updates
So many things on my list are pending right now (and I’m not going to say which ones exactly, but there are approx. 11). Here’s a little breakdown:

  • #3: It’s happening. Booked and not nearly ready to go, but it’s happening!
  • #4: See you in April, Blake!
  • #10: Signed up and ready to rock the Color Run with Team TS in June
  • #12 is finally filled in– I want to learn something new! I realized I really haven’t learned or studied anything since graduating, so I want to keep this nice and broad. Whether I learn how to watercolor properly or work in HTML or how to understand the stock market or how to fix something around the house, I want to gain a little knowledge.
  • #20 now has a giant “OR” next to it: “OR see the Western Sydney Wanderers play in Melbourne.” With my Australia trip officially planned (start date, end date, and crunched budget to boot), a trip to Nashville is simply impossible. The only game left in Nashville is on 4/12 and I’ll be in Melbourne… which hopefully means seeing the WSW with Blake. YEP. I’M SNEAKY LIKE THAT.

Even though it looks like I haven’t accomplished much in the last couple of months, this is probably the most exciting update to my bucket list to date (which is great, considering I’ve only got about 4 months left to go). I can’t wait to write my next update when I can officially cross a few things off!

 

“23”: Updated (5/23 complete + an update)

1. Leave my job at IB

2. Get a new job (and love it)

3. Go back to Australia (to study, work, or take a vacation)

4. Meet and hang out with Blake

5. Get my first tattoo (if I’m feeling brave- second and third as well)

6. Hang out with Jessica (in NYC, NJ, or Chicago) again- without the anxiety this time

7. Visit California (esp. San Clemente & Kristen Stewart’s handprints @ TCL)

8. Get paid to write

9. Go on vacation with Amanda Our New Years Eve trip turned into a bit of a vacation… it’s a stretch, but we did spend 5 days together + 7 hours driving!

10. Run a 5K (with a few stops at most)

11. Do/try something new/spontaneous. Anything.

12. TBD

13. Meet someone famous (actor/musician/writer/athlete) I met Sophia Bush on November 6th!

14. Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive way

15. Impact someone’s life in a positive way

16. Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)

17. Finally finish my Invisalign treatment

18. Man up and get my wisdom teeth pulled

19. Go on a date (and maybe a second?!)

20. See the Blackhawks play in Nashville

21. Do something for myself

22. Read a total of 23 books

23. Find a new favorite spot in Chicago

Updates:

  • A trip to NYC/NJ without the anxiety was really about seeing my friend Jessica again, so I’ve stretched it a bit by adding Chicago as an option, in case she makes her way to me over spring break!
  • Calling our NYE trip a vacation is a stretch, but Amanda ok’d it.
  • I am reserving the right to alter #12, as I’ve decided I do not want my writing published on Thought Catalog for personal reasons.
  • There is a trip to Australia in the works. It’s going to cost me a lot, but I have a lot of reasons why I’m going to splurge on it: 1. it would be awesome to visit my sister while she’s abroad, 2. Blake and I made an agreement to see each other within a year, beginning when we started talking on a daily basis in March 2013, 3. I miss my friends there and it’s been almost three years since I’ve seen them, 4. Wanderlust is worth every penny, 5. if I can make said trip happen, I’ll have the opportunity to scratch between 7 and 9 total things off this list.
  • I’ve come up with the theory that in the process of writing the “23” bucket list, my subconscious mind tricked me into picking things that revolved around a trip to Oz.

Stay tuned!

The “Good Things” Jar: 2013 Edition

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When life gets rocky, it’s not uncommon for our vision to become skewed. Personally, I get frustrated and struggle to realize that worse things have happened. In an effort to put my life into perspective, while also appreciating the little things along the way, I began a jar of “good things” on January 1st, 2013.

While 2013 started out rough, better things happened along the way: I met a lot of cool people, traveled around the States (midwest & east coast), had quite a few friendships blossom, went on some dates, saw a lot of fantastic concerts, discovered new favorite musicians (stay tuned- will be posting more about this!), and landed an incredible internship. I’m hopeful that 2014 will bring new opportunities and bigger, better things. Not to mention, I have a hefty amount of my “23” bucket list to accomplish before July. I’ve picked some favorite things from each month to highlight. Happy new year and bring on 2014!

January: Went to NYC for the first time and met my best friend from tumblr, JessFebruary: Started dealing with my anxiety and met Pete Wentz
March: Saw and met Marcus Foster & Bobby Long
April: New FOB album, landed a full-time job, and repainted my bedroom on a whim
May: Landed a column of my own at Noisetrend.com
June: Discovered Chelsea Fagan and the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup
July: Celebrated my 23rd bday and got laid off from my full-time job
August: Landed an interview and intern position with The Everygirl
September: Saw The Unlikely Candidates at JBTV and started 5k training (until my wisdom teeth surgery)
October: Grace Helbig acknowledged my existence and I went on a few dates with a new boy
November: Kept busy at The Everygirl, met Sophia Bush, and saw the boy more
December: The Everygirl Holiday party and Christmas with the family