Adulthood & the Reverse Bucket List

One of the abiding questions of my life is “Am I grown up yet?” Not because I’m Susan Pevensie and super-eager to be An Adult, but because years have rushed by, and I don’t exactly have the best vantage for seeing how they’ve changed me. Am I really any different from myself at age 14? Surely I’m not old enough or mature enough to care about, say, insurance premiums or local construction projects?

xkcd 616

26-year-old me has a better vocabulary than 14-year-old me, that’s all.

Presumably certain people who are not me can point to their spouse, their children, or their 30-year-mortgage and stop feeling angst about this kind of thing. Some of them act like nothing you do in your life counts until you’re married with progeny. Maybe it’s unintentional, but it seeps through their words anyway, like one can’t really live without somehow being bound to or responsible for another person’s life.

This is false, of course; we’re not all stuck in a tower waiting for life to begin.  But the married folks sure have that clear milestone set in their past. The rest of us pass the seemingly-arbitrary government mile markers at 18 and 21, and then go “Um. Okay? I guess I’m in Adultland now?” We wonder “What am I doing with my life?” as well as “What should I do with my life?” And after such worries trails the dark shadow of fear, that one day we’ll sit somewhere, old and enfeebled, wondering “What have I done with my life?”

Such worries can serve as the catalyst to change, but they’re not helpful otherwise. So I was pleased to come across a different approach from Erika and others: taking a look at the experiences one has already had, or the goals one has already accomplished, praising God for them, and carrying on with a little bit more perspective. Erika also shared her thoughts on how this isn’t a brag list.

Here are some things I’ve already done. They may not make me an Official Adult, but they’ve all contributed to who I am. What’s on your reverse bucket list?

Shot a rifle
Saw an opera
Sang karaoke
Wrote a story
Went hunting
Learned to ski
Went canoeing
Went rappelling
Visited 32 states
Went ice skating
Marathoned LotR
Pulled all-nighters
Visited the Louvre
Enjoyed formal tea
Owned a dollhouse
Took a singing class
Rode a roller coaster
Went four-wheeling
Ran several 5K races
Went horseback riding
Took an overnight train
Visited the Eiffel Tower
Saw Billy Joel in concert
Got and held a job 5 years
Cooked a Martinmas goose
Saw Alcazar and Alhambra
Performed in plays/musicals
Attended a Steampunk Expo
Saw the Golden Gate Bridge
Sang solos in front of people
Learned to play the bagpipes
Walked the Mackinac Bridge
Touched the LeFay Fragment
Rode a bike on Mackinac Island
Went to (Motor City) Comic Con
Lived in an apartment on my own
Was a bridesmaid (five times now)
Was broadcast singing on the radio
Visited Portugal, Spain, and France
Went on a mission trip to Nicaragua
Painted and framed some watercolors
Climbed Laughing Whitefish 5+ times
Saw Devil’s Tower and Mt. Rushmore
Memorized some really lengthy poems
Graduated high school as valedictorian
Traveled to Yellowstone National Park
Learned how to do a fling and sword dance
Graduated from Hillsdale magna cum laude
Rocked some standardized tests like a champ
Swam in the Atlantic, dunked toes in the Pacific
Drove to Virginia, Ohio, and Wisconsin by myself
Learned about cocktails and designed several of my own
Made my own ginger beer, sushi, crepes, ricotta, grenadine
Joined a group blog and posted for more than three years on it
Traveled to Rome; ate gelato, drank cappuccino, saw sights, etc.
Swam in Lake Michigan, dunked toes in Lake Superior and Huron
Created a youTube profile and started making videos (really badly)
Was VPR and Fraternity Education director for my music fraternity
Visited locations from movies (namely, Harry Potter; possibly others)
Saw Coriolanus, and Shakespeare in the Arb, and other live Shakespeare
Attended a major league baseball game (with a squirrel on the field.  Can’t be beat)
Was an Intercollegiate Studies Institute Honors Fellow, and visited Cambridge, England
Visited St. Jeronimo’s in Lisbon, the Cathedral of Seville, Notre Dame, Ely Cathedral, and the basilicas of Rome
Was one of four students picked to go on CS Lewis trip to Oxford and Cambridge; met Walter Hooper, Jack’s last pupil, and Dr. Michael Ward (before Planet Narnia was published)
As Hyoi told Ransom in Out of the Silent Planet:

“A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered. You are speaking, Hmãn, as if the pleasure were one thing and the memory another. It is all one thing. What you call remembering is the last part of the pleasure, as the crah is the last part of the poem. When you and I met, the meeting was over very shortly, it was nothing. Now it is growing something as we remember it. But still we know very little about it. What it will be when I remember it as I lie down to die, what it makes me all my days till then – that is the real meeting. The other is only the beginning of it.”


10 thoughts on “Adulthood & the Reverse Bucket List

  1. Oh, this is wonderful. Bucket lists are fine but I’ve yet to make an official one, mainly because even thinking about it can stir up such a sense of discontent about my life. While there are plenty of things I want to do (learn to play the violin, go to New Zealand, start a farm, etc.) these things cost money, time, skills, etc. I don’t have and, unfortunately, might never have. But you know what? I own my own home, my own car, I’ve been to Ireland, France, Germany, Japan. There’s more of course, but yes, yes I like this idea much better.

    (Oh, and I’m 29 and still feel like I should be in high school. I’m not sure when I’ll become an Official Adult but something tells me it won’t be anytime soon.)

    • Yeah, I’m attempting to be more aware of the places where discontentment creeps in, and then tug it back out. It’s easy to forget about, though, and it’s always so easy to look on Person X and his/her stuff with such envy. Erlack.

      Maybe we should just forge some official-looking certificates. OFFICIAL ADULT OF THE GROWN-UP LEAGUE or something. As Allie would say: “That right there is my ability to be responsible. I won it when I was twenty-five.”

      • Haha, a fantastic idea! I can make a “Grown-Up” wall where I can hang that right next to my Master’s degree, Librarian certification, Bachelor’s Degree, etc.

  2. Ugh, there’s too much Lewis in this post, it huuuuuurrrrts.

    Part of my list:

    –drove the Oregon Trail (by myself)
    –lived in the same apartment (on my own) for 3 years
    –financial independence
    –became self-employed
    –wrote a novel
    –went on a mission trip
    –planned & executed a trip to England
    –learned to bake bread
    –was a bridesmaid
    –tried out for a play
    –sang a duet at a wedding
    –joined a non-school choir
    –kept the same job (roughly) for almost 6 years

    • At first I thought “Oh, come now, there’s just that one line from Hyoi.” Because I managed to forget alluding to Susan, PLUS the CSL trip, PLUS the LeFay fragment. Gosh.

      I seriously want to see your entire list! At the moment, since it is late and I might have the munchies, I’m looking at “learned to bake bread” and am wondering how many different foods you’ve actually learned how to make at this point.

      …okay, going to bed before I start longing hopelessly for Yorkshire pudding.

  3. Great perspective. Also somehow I did not know you were a runner. And being married doesn’t necessarily mean I feel grown up ;).

    • Hee! Yeah, I did track and cross country throughout high school; running demands perseverance but not so much hand-eye coordination or strategic play within a team, which makes it the best sport for me 😛 I keep planning to get my spikes back out and run a 10K or half-marathon, but it hasn’t happened yet.

      Don’t worry, we can forge an Official Adult of the Grown-Up League certificate for you too ^_~

  4. Nice list, and thanks for linking me!

    I don’t have children of my own, but I wonder occasionally if my friends who do have children feel more like adults than I do. In some ways, I think having a child would make me feel less responsible — I think I’d just feel like I was making the whole “parenting” thing up as I went along, which is basically how I feel about adulthood. But perhaps that’s part of why I don’t have children.

  5. Reblogged this on Em Speaks and commented:
    My own “Adult Reverse Bucket List”
    (I have stories for many of these ‘accomplishments’ if you’d like to hear/read them.)
    –drove the Oregon Trail (by myself)
    –lived in the same apartment (on my own) for 3 years
    –achieved financial independence
    –became self-employed
    –wrote a novel
    –went on a mission trip
    –planned & executed a vacation to England
    –learned to bake bread
    –learned to make crumpets
    –bought a water filter
    –was a bridesmaid
    –was a flower girl
    –tried out for a play
    –sang a duet at a wedding
    –joined a non-school choir
    –kept the same job for almost 6 years
    –taught myself piano pieces
    –met one of my political heroes (Ron Paul)
    –shook the hand of two presidential candidates
    –been on the radio
    –climbed a mountain
    –ate mountain snow
    –had major surgery
    –stayed in a hotel (or twelve) on my own
    –went canoeing
    –qualified for my concealed-carry permit in Ohio
    –own a gun
    –was an extra in a different play
    –was also on the set crew for said play
    –learned to change a flat tire (sort of)
    –swam in both the Atlantic and the Pacific
    –completed several fanfiction stories
    –went on a three-week backpacking trip in the Rockies via Outward Bound
    –slept with several different guys on said backpacking trip
    –(literal sleeping…in separate sleeping bags…because there were like six of us to a tarp…and oh yeah there were no proper tents…just tarps propped up on ski poles…)
    –saw Horatio Nelson’s uniform
    –stood on the deck of the HMS Victory
    –saw the Crown Jewels (twice)
    –wrote fan letters to celebrities (some more recently than others)
    –got books personally autographed by famous people
    –won a writing contest
    –saw musicals/plays on Broadway
    –walked on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
    –toured a film studio
    –saw the view from the Sears Tower
    –had a celebrity Tweet me back (Josh Groban)
    –had a letter/email read by Craig Ferguson on his late-late show
    –saw Phantom of the Opera in Toronto
    –slept in a hostel
    –tried ‘no-shampoo’ for weeks (possibly months?)
    –had fish & chips and Guinness in England
    –played pub/bar trivia
    –visited a mosque in London
    –visited a Sikh temple, also in London
    –won county-fair awards for artwork
    –skipped a class in high school
    –almost failed a class in high school
    –avoided getting a speeding ticket
    –rode a camel in Israel
    –saw whales and dolphins in Hawaii
    –grew cacti from seeds bought in Arizona
    –got my Bachelor’s Degree

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