So I’m 23. I did college, I did grad school, I started a blog, I work SO much — too much even. I have always pushed myself to be the best at everything I do, no matter how much work it takes. Even worse, I’ve always been in a rush.
I’m not sure where I’m rushing to, but I’ve always have a strict timeline of things I needed to have/do before 30. This timeline included: have a masters degree, publish research, have a private practice, write (at least) one book, get married, and have 1-2 kids. By 30. By 30!!! I have always felt like I was running out of time or behind schedule to get these things “done.” I thought of these things as tasks. As items to check off my to do list for life.
In my short, short time as an adult, I’ve learned there are a million small pieces that make you ready for those things. Once you’re ready, they will fall into place. Your twenties are the time to learn anything and everything — to experience life and everything it has to offer you from paying your own taxes to getting a stupid tattoo. Working through these things are what you should take a step back and appreciate — enjoy making the mistakes and having the adventures that get you to the “finish line,” whatever that may be for you.
Already, by 23 — 7 years away from the due date — I’m exhausted. Over it. Throwing away my to do list of things to get “done” and appreciating the best part — doing them. Slowly. With pleasure.
So, here is my new to do list: 30 things every woman should do before she turns 30.
TSOH’s 30 Things Every Woman Needs to do Before 30
1. Move somewhere you don’t know anyone. (Even if just for a couple months!) In college I moved to NYC for a few months on a whim and didn’t know a single soul in the city, then spent a summer in a small town in Italy. After I graduated I moved to Seattle, where I also didn’t know anyone. Those two adventures are my most valuable and cherished learning experiences. I had to learn how to turn strangers into family. The people I met in both places I call home are some of my absolute best friends, and the adventures I had on my own in a new exciting (and terrifying!) place are priceless. I remember my first night in Seattle — my parents left and I quickly realized Wow, I do not know one person in this entire state (aside from a couple family friends I met once) — there’s literally a thousand miles between me and every person in my life. I bawled. Totally cried. All night. On my couch. I was miserable. Now, Seattle is my home, I’ve never been more at home and comfortable than I am on the same couch I cried on that night.
2. Learn to cook a dish. Just one will do fine! Just have one go-to meal or appetizer that people rave over to bring to potlucks or make for friends when they come over.
3. Swim in the ocean (preferably naked). Nothing will make you more blissfully aware of how big and incredible the world is than the ocean. I skinny dipped in the ocean on my birthday a couple years ago and it was up there in the highlights of adventures I’ve gotten into.
4. Do something painfully stupid — and stand by it. On my last day in NYC before moving back to LA, I got a tattoo. Looking back, the tattoo is silly now. It’s not really my style anymore, my friends tease me about it constantly, etc etc. However, I made the decision to get it because it meant something to me to have the lessons and memories from NYC literally ingrained into me. So, despite how much I might not love the tattoo and how much I don’t think I should have gotten a tattoo at 19, I stand by it.
5. Buy something of value. Twenty somethings aren’t typically rolling in the dough. However, purchasing something special and valuable with your hard earned cash feels amazing. It teaches you to appreciate both your income and your possessions. Plus, there’s an immense sense of pride in owning something totally without mom and pop that isn’t from H&M.
6. Get a knock out work outfit. On the same note as above, get one work outfit that just totally kills it. Business attire can get dull, so having one fantastic professional outfit can make you feel extra important on a big presentation day. I know when I dress better at work I’m certainly more on my hustle.
7. Date. A lot. I am a serial monogamist. I am literally always in a serious relationship. But, I’ve recently learned that when I’m not in one, my friendships grow stronger, my adventures are more exhilarating, and my independence is more empowering. Going on fun dates without getting into anything serious teaches you what kind of man you like (and don’t like!). That’s important to avoid getting into a serious relationship with someone that’s all wrong for you.
8. Clean out your closet. Goodbye graphic tees. Goodbye crop tops. Goodbye mini skirt. Goodbye chunky sparkly Vegas heels (okay, maybe not goodbye, but let’s move you to the hall closet or something). Goodbye sweater I haven’t touched in three years. Goodbye jeans that haven’t fit since high school.
9. Get a consistent workout routine. If you’re in your 20s and aren’t working out regularly, get. on. it. Even if you have a magic ‘perfect’ body or don’t feel like you personally need to, I guarantee you do. Exercise is SO friggin’ important. Trust me.
10. Make your bed. I know it’s hard to get motivated to if you live alone, but just do it. Successful people do.
11. Moisturize. You should be moisturizing twice a day and using eye cream. Get yo face routine down now, you’ll thank yourself when you’re 50 and look 30. (I’ve gotten a ton of emails about my skincare routine, do you guys want a post about that?)
12. Learn about finances and investments. I’m still working on this, but I def know it’s important to understand how to invest your money wisely.
13. Have one (or several) crazy, ridiculous, all-nighter party night with your friends. I vote for several. Those few select nights where everything went right and you guys danced all night and watched the sunrise over some pizza laughing about that dude on the dance floor will bring a smile to your face no matter how many years have passed. I still tell this one story from living in NYC and that was 4 years ago!
14. Get checked up regularly. Get your teeth cleaned. Get your pap smear. Get your physician check up. Get your eyes checked. I totally get that you’re young and healthy but you really need to stay on top of these things. Better safe than sorry!
15. Get comfortable being alone. I used to hateee being alone. Now there’s nothing more peaceful than a long run and solo lunch date with my book. Or, I mean, dancing around my apartment in my underwear.
16. Read for pleasure. Read the classics. Read the bestsellers. Read the books you Sparknoted in high school. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein, Beckett — they all have brilliant knowledge and insight into the world that you don’t and they spilled it out into a book for you to learn it.
17. Conquer a fear. I am terrified of skydiving, bungee jumping, and a whole list of other things. I am slowly tackling those fears and doing things I never thought I would. Pick one of your big fears and totally kill it.
18. Donate your hair to cancer. It’ll grow back, and you will change someone’s life.
19. Volunteer without school credit. Remember when everyone volunteered in high school and college? Well, do some good for the world without putting it on your resume.
20. Unplug for at least a few days. This is tough to do in the real world, but try it! Even if just for 24 hours, totally disconnect. No texting, blogs, facebook, insta, what have you. Totally go phone- and computer-free. It’ll bring everything into perspective and totally om you out.
21. Taste a food you ‘hate.’ I used to be such a picky eater. I used to hate tomatoes and mushrooms and eggplants and a zillion other things. Now I eat everything. Except coconut. But, I taste coconut regularly hoping to one day change my mind!
22. Learn a fun skill. Take a cocktail making course. Learn a musical instrument. A DIY craft. Knitting. What have you. Learn something fun and new that you’ve always wanting to do!
23. Pay it forward. Try to do this frequently! Leave a nice note for a stranger, a ridiculous tip for a street performer or waiter, help someone with their groceries, whatever you can. Doing little things like that feels amazing. Seriously, it feels so, so good. It’s really selfish if you think about it. Doing nice things for others puts a spring in your own step just as much as theirs.
24. Give blood or marrow. Marrow hurts, but is so needed. Donate your blood regularly!!! Trust me, spend a day in a hospital and you’ll see how much that tiny token of your good will means to some people.
25. Forgive and forget. This was a resolution of mine last year. I am a big grudge holder. Big time. I recently sort of came to the realization that grudges are stupid and exhausting. I was still mad at a girl from high school — high school!! She and I had gotten into a big fight when I was 14 and at the age of 22 I was still pissed. Now, I’m past it, and having a positive relationship with her feels oh-so-good. Same goes for another friend of mine. Yes, there are instances where some people should be removed from your life (especially toxic ones), but with time, avoidance becomes a grudge. Not having them in your life doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a negative relationship.
26. Fall in love. I love love. Love is an adventure. It is, in my opinion, the biggest adventure you can undertake. It is your opportunity to be completely vulnerable and at another person’s will. Love requires you to totally relinquish control and leap empty handed into the void (yep, that’s a derivative of one of my favorite quotes!). You just jump, blindly, into it. Like elegantly diving blind into infinite unknown darkness with a smile on your face and enjoying every second of it. Sheesh I’m a sap.
(or, you know, tacos.)
27. Eat your vegetables. Eating healthy is vital. It’s so freaking important. Stop eating pizza and take out every night and put some fruits and veggies into your body instead. I mean, at least throw some kale on that Digiorno.
28. Establish values and beliefs. These will change. Constantly. However, this is the time to reflect and really learn and understand what you believe in and why. You might have been raised in a family of one religion or political preference, or maybe a social view, but never had the opportunity to challenge that or consider why you believe it, or even if you do. Now is the chance to set up your own system of beliefs!
29. Travel. This one is a given. We’re always told to travel in our twenties. But really, whether it’s a road trip or a 7 continent excursion, travel as much and as often as possible. See and adventure every inch of the world that you can. You will not regret it. Oh, and leave your mark! Write your name and the date somewhere you probably shouldn’t on or near something special, maybe one day you’ll come back with your family and tell the crazy adventure story of how their mom’s name got on the wall of the Duomo or that little hole in the wall restaurant in Germany or even that cave in Cambodia!
30. Make your own list of 30 things to do before 30! Use your list to motivate everything from your growth as a ‘grown up’ to your adventure seeking. Love it. Live it. Frame it.
Do you guys have any awesome additions to this list? Comment ideas below!