Face it: Everybody has one. Even if that isn’t what they call it, everyone has a bucket list. It’s the things they would like to do, the things they would regret not doing if they knew they would die tomorrow. Mine currently has 107 items. I know. Lots of things. These 107 items include career items, like finish writing a novel, hear a song I wrote on the radio, and work on a Disney princess movie (by the way Disney, I already have a story in mind and I am totally available). There are also some experiences I’d like to have like seeing the Grand Canyon and the Northern Lights and having lunch with Sarah Dessen. There are some items that are going to take a little more time, like learn to play guitar, take a cross-country road trip, visit every Major League Baseball stadium in America. And there are the growing up ones, where I want to get married and have and adopt kids.
I wrote them all down. I came across them the other day, and it’s serving as a really nice reminder. See, I’m currently living with my mom and working part-time at my local library. Sometimes I worry that nothing is changing, that on December 31, 2015, I will look back and say, “I am in exactly the same place I was last year.”
But looking over my list, I accomplished several things in 2014. I drank Irish coffee (in Ireland, of all places), I walked across the London Bridge, I studied at Oxford, and worked at Disney World. But these were all big things that I mostly only managed because I was still in school. But I also managed to drink a beer at a Brad Paisley concert while he sang “Alcohol,” which has been kind of a huge dream of mine since I was 18.
I’m currently working on the “finish a novel” thing. The waltzing, guitar playing, and two-stepping I could learn, if I would just, you know, get started. Having lunch with Sarah Dessen is going to be a little trickier, but maybe once I’m a published novelist, we can bond over being Tar Heel girls. (In case you haven’t noticed, Sarah Dessen is my favorite writer of all time. It’s why she gets so many mentions.) Some of the items are big and are going to take more resources than I have right now. But some of them aren’t and I could do before the end of 2015.
And I think, if I didn’t finish them, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. The “traveling to every MLB stadium in America” one was my dad’s, and I want to do it because he didn’t get to. So maybe, when I’m gone, someone who loves me will find my list and start working on the rest.
The point is to take advance of every opportunity you’ve got, but also to work towards what you have to make happen yourself. It’s a balance.