I'll be 35 in a little under two months, and while I generally don't get melancholy about turning a year older, birthdays are a good time to take stock of where you've been, where you are and, more importantly, where you want to be in life. So, I've been doing some thinking. In actuality, 35 is not that different from 34, but it feels different, it feels like turning the corner into adulthood for good. And with that final turn into the world of mortgages and 401Ks, here are 35 things I wish I had done.
1. Spent more money
I took my first expensive vacation just last year and realized loosening the purse strings for a splurge (within reason) feels good. It's freeing, empowering and the memories I made will last long after my bank account recovers.
2. Hooked up with that hot guy from New Zealand who I met in a bar in Bali
In your 20s, you think stuff like this will happen to you again and again, but trust me, it doesn't. And he totally would have been worth it.
3. Worn a leather mini-skirt
As with many things in life, there's a window for rocking something short, tight and made from the skin of an animal, and I worry mine is closed.
4. Learned how to invest my money
I file all my bank statements without opening them and my spam filter catches anything with "401K" in the headline. What is it people say? Make your money work for you? Never learned that particular skill.
5. Auditioned for "The Real World"
Probably one of the defining shows of my generation. Too bad I never even tried to get on.
6. Bought those camel-colored Ralph Lauren riding boots
10 years later and I still regret passing them up. (See No. 1)
7. Lived in New York
The older I get, the more set in my ways I am, and the prospect of moving to a loud, crowded, city is overwhelming, and that makes me sad.
8. Emailed Tim back
We met in Costa Rica and then improbably, months and months later, he was our waiter at an Italian restaurant near my house. He gave me his email and I never emailed him. I don't know why I never did.
9. Told Kevin I loved him
10. Had a baby
I know, It isn't too late for me, and I have plenty of time. And I only just figured out about a year ago, that yeah, I think I do want kids. So, you know, a pat on the back for that bit of self-awareness.
11. Run a marathon
HAHA I'm kidding I already did that.
12. Taken a low-paying but ultimately fulfilling job
With a mortgage and loans to pay pack, a job isn't just about what you want to do with your life any more, but what you have to do to pay the bills.
13. Gone on tour with my band
That I don't play any kind of instrument or sing is totally irrelevant. Why have I never woken up in the back of a van with the drummer drooling on my shoulder while we travel from gig to gig?
14. Learned how to cook
I've either lived with my parents, roommates or my older sister my whole life and uh, never really learned to cook. I can make a mean bowl of ramen, though. That's acceptable, right?
15. Made a grand romantic gesture
I've never John Cusaked it up outside a dude's house, never written a confessional love letter or even sent flowers to someone I like. This inability to show feelings probably require a closer look than I'm willing to admit.
16. Lived abroad
If New York is intimidating, moving overseas is even more so. What we give up in adventure, we make up for in friends, family, stability and comfort. I just wish that hadn't always been the case.
17. Backpacked through Europe
I think now I'm only allowed in Europe if I take one of those Viking River Cruises they advertise on PBS right before "Downton Abbey."
18. Played a team sport/played in a Frisbee league
Here's one more thing I'm not good at. Team work.
19. Learned how to hold my liquor
Two drinks and I am, as people my age tend to say, three sheets to the wind.
20. Let my Dad pay for more stuff
When I first started making money, I wanted to feel like an adult, so I paid for everything myself. My Dad always offered, and I always said no. Now, with 35 looming, nothing makes you feel younger than having your dad pay for something.
21. Gone to Coachella
I always kept putting this one off, telling myself I'd splurge and go next year when I could take the time off work, and never did. Now, three days of non-stop music sounds, well, exhausting.
22. Written more
There's always an excuse to not write, and I took it way too many times.
23. Run more hills
You'll never regret the hills you ran, just the ones you didn't.
24. Slept with more guys in their 20s
25. Gone topless at the beach
The ladies still look good, but time has taken its toll.
26. Bought a vacation home
Everyone's definition of success is different, but mine includes the phrase "beach front location."
27. Stayed out of the sun
Now is when the youthful disregard for sunscreen starts to manifest in many, many unflattering ways.
28. Colored my hair
All the gray you guys. ALL THE GRAY.
29. Written a fan letter
The window on something like this closes pretty early. At 35, it's just pathetic.
30. Got into a fight
They say you don't know what you're made off until you've been in a fight. I don't think hair-pulling matches with my sister when we were kids counts.
31. Donated more money
32. Prayed more
33. Had more hangovers
I've only had a handful of really bad hangovers in my life, and it only reminds me of all the partying I didn't do.
34. Started online dating
I am no longer in the age bracket for the Hey-I-Just-Moved-to-the-City-and-Want-to-Get-a-Beer guys. Now it's the Let-Me-Tell-You-About-My-Ex-Wife-and-Three-Kids guys.
35. Made a list like this
I have regrets, but I've also done a lot of things I'm proud of before turning 35. But this is a good reminder that living with less regret, and perhaps with more embarrassment, rejection and fear is a good way to ensure I don't have to make another list like this 5 years from now, when I'm (gasp) 40.