I put off starting this post quite a bit this year and had trouble putting my finger on why that was. I did want to write the post. I truly love this annual tradition of mine and this year has been eye-opening for me. I wanted to share more about it, but something seemed… off. I couldn’t place it.
So I decided instead to “prepare” for writing this post. I determined the best preparation would be reading and re-reading my original 40 by 40 list, taking honest stock of what I did do, what I didn’t, and what I wish I had already done. But every time I revisited the list, I found myself struggling with that “off” feeling again and it sent me into a frustration spiral.
One night last week, with my birthday looming, I laid in bed willing myself to focus on reading the last “Classic” necessary to technically cross another item off my list and it suddenly hit me: I no longer fully align with the woman who made the list.
The original list was published shortly after my 30th birthday in 2016. That was the year I watched my daughter turn one and the year I first suspected (though couldn’t admit to even myself) that my marriage might not last. My job change that year that would ultimately put me on a professional path I had never before considered and along with the rest of the world, I watched the 2016 election unfold. I cried as one of my heroes gave her concession speech, and then held my breath to see what would happen next.
A lot happened next.
2016 and the version of who I was at 30 years old seems far, far away. We can all argue all day about how the world has changed in that handful of years, but I am certain of one thing: I am NOT the same woman who wrote that list.
The world isn’t a static place full of static people with unchanging desires and dreams. I could spend the next five years of my life identifying all the ways I’ve changed in the past five years of my life only to find that the passed time had once again shifted my alignment.
What I am trying to say is this: If I made a 40 by 40 list today, some of those same things may possibly make the cut, but not all of them would.
With that realization, it started to seem rather silly that I felt obligated to check boxes off a list that another woman had written. Why would my annual reflection or self-critique be beholden to desires that I no longer have? Even more, how could I properly reflect on my own growth and awareness without holding myself accountable for working towards new dreams I discover along the way?
So what does all this mean? Well, I’m not cutting any items from the list but I no longer feel compelled to complete them all either. Now I see each item as a time capsule reminding me of a moment when something in particular held my interest or attention. And I want to add new things to my list as I go because there is so much more I want to do on this side of 40 that 2016-me never even considered.
So here’s my updates and additions. And I can honestly say that over the next five years, absolutely everything is subject to change:
Purchase and Display Original Artwork from a Local Artist (Level 2)
I did pick a local artist and friend (Looking at you Meg!) who I adore and discussed the piece I wanted with her earlier this year. But you know, life happens and it isn’t yet hanging in my house. That’s okay. The thought of it being there one day already makes me happy and I plan on sharing the shit out of it when it does finally grace my walls!
Meet 5 “Internet Friends” in real life (Level 3)
As an elder millennial, I remember a time where people thought it was weird to call people from the internet you’ve never met in person your friends. But between the lockdown and the pandemic, that ship has sailed and I will happily admit that I love so many people that I’ve never had the pleasure of embarrassing in public. Next week that will change though when the beautiful Natalie Kristeen comes to the Natural State! I absolutely cannot wait!
Invest in Luxury Bedding (Level 3)
Over the last 5 years I have bought multiple sets of expensive sheets and duvets all boasting high ratings and long lists of happy customers. And yet, I still find myself regularly sleeping on Target brand sheets and curling up for the night with a fuzzy blanket from my sofa. So, this is officially a cry for help: Help me find luxury bedding that I don’t hate y’all. I sleep hot so I prefer cool sheets. I am needy so I prefer something weighted. And I have a toenail that can get a little snaggly at times so durability is a must. Oh, and I like my fitted sheet to be TIGHT. Super tight. No oversized saggy mess over here. So feel free to hit me up with any (and all) suggestions at this point. I’m beyond tired of spending money only to end up disappointed and back at Target.
Go Scuba Diving (Level 4)/Take a girls only vacation (Level 3)
Check, check, and CHECK! This summer I had the pleasure of taking my very first dive trip in Bonaire with some amazing women and friends. Was it perfect? Nope. But life seldom is. There were hiccups along the way (including at at least three missed flights) but at the end of the day, I got to experience something I’ve always wanted to experience and it was pretty damn cool. So I’m pretty damn happy about it.
List Additions (For Now):
Get Published- My original list included writing something small for myself that I was proud of and that was nice. But I’ve done that time and time again and I want to challenge myself to more so I am officially expanding the original item: I’d like to be published. I’m working on a variety of things and one day, I want others to read them because quite frankly, I think the things I have to say are worthy of hearing. A younger version of myself never would have said that and I think that kind of growth is pretty fucking cool.
Climb a Tree – I get how crazy this makes me sound but I don’t care. As a kid, I loved to climb trees. Hell, I literally used to climb a tree in my backyard and write poetry in a notebook made of homemade paper. Somewhere along the road to adulthood, I stopped climbing trees and I’m not even sure why. So the next time I see a tree that is begging to be climbed, I want to go for it without hesitation. Life is too short to not climb the tree.
Low Priorities (For Now):
Keep a garden alive for one full season (Level One) – I have no desire to be Annie Oakley; I am a city girl who enjoys the farmer’s market and my lawn guy in equal measure. I don’t see myself learning the intracentries of fertilizer anytime soon but I suppose I can never say never.
Renew wedding vows (Level 2) – I hate to be the one to break the news, but I’m divorced. And my ex-husband is remarried. So, the odds of renewing the wedding vows we exchanged when I was 26 is approximately… Zero. In truth, I’m not sure I am the marrying-type anymore. I suppose only time will tell. Either way, I’m not losing sleep over not being able to cross this one off the list.
Curate and maintain a stylish and versatile wardrobe that
compliments my body type (Level 3) – Pssst! Guess what? What compliments my body changes over time because my body changes over time! Bless the innocent heart I had at 30 thinking that once I was done having kids I would fall into a steady routine and maintain the same figure the rest of my life. But I do enjoy reducing my carbon footprint through thrifting and experiencing with styles I once considered too out of the box for me. So all in all, I like where I’m at with this one for now.
So that’s the end of 34. As I enter into my 35th year, a recent TikTok keeps popping up in my mind. It declared that your 20’s aren’t your prime, but are instead the primer. I like that but I want to add to it. If your 20’s are the primer, your 30’s are for experimenting with color. Enjoy in some haphazardness and don’t worry too much about drop cloths or taping off the corners. It’s just paint babe. You are always capable of adding another layer.
So what do you say?
Let’s all go experiment in color this year!