A few days ago, I posted something about my 2014 bucket list on Facebook, after I realized it was all of the sudden December and thus, almost 2015. I crossed off a few more things I’d done over the past few months, then started reading and thinking about some of the stuff I hadn’t gotten to yet. Truthfully, I made the list last year knowing I’d be able to cross some of them off having already made plans [is that cheating?]. But they were definitely all things I intended to accomplish by the time 2015 hit. It was a manageable list, definitely challenging, but by no means impossible.
Immediately after it was updated, I started feeling guilty about the things I hadn’t done yet. I mean, I had a full year to eat at The Boathouse and I hadn’t even managed to get there once??? I felt a little defeated even though the year wasn’t up yet, and immediately started making plans to cross as many things off the list before the end of the month as I could. People were cheering me on, impressed by how ambitious my list was, what I’d already accomplished this year. It felt good, but being the perfectionist I am, I thought (for a brief moment) that the world just might end if I couldn’t get everything crossed off that list. That it might haunt me somehow. That I’d carry around the weight of knowing I’d failed. That some of the things would have to roll over to next year’s list, and then they’d somehow become less impressive or special.
If you know me, you know I’m busy. (But you should also know my thoughts on why everyone claims to be so freaking busy all the time.) Just by nature of living in a city that expects forward motion and business and achievement and for everyone to be available and game for adventure 24-7, I’m busy. Just by nature that people work more here than they do anywhere else in the world (I think), I’m busy. Just by nature of the fact that my friends are pretty incredible, talented and busy people, I’m busy. And a lot happened this year. 2014 was my first full calendar year living in New York, I ran two half marathons, got a new job, and successfully was approved for and signed my first lease with roommates I’m still so excited to live with and do life with. I lived life—every single day of it—enjoyed the company of friends and family, worked hard in my job, traveled alone, pushed and challenged myself physically and emotionally, learned a ton about vulnerability and grace.
So while I was out, busy enjoying life and doing things I care about and mean a lot to me, being with friends and family and working hard in my career, my list stayed stagnant. It didn’t change. It represented (and still does) part of me that always dreams bigs and loves an adventure. But here’s the truth. (And in all honesty, a truth that came from a good friend who knows just how much I expect out of myself). I didn’t get to all the things on the list. And I probably won’t. And here’s why that’s ok. Because those things, at the end of the day, don’t mean much at all. It wasn’t even really the things themselves that I knew I’d remember. It was the people I’d experience them with. It was the feeling of knowing I’d accomplish something, that even a year ago, I would’ve never thought possible. It was the bits and pieces of life between those moments that’d be the special ones. And the stuff I didn’t expect would happen. The things that came at me when all I could do was open my arms and say, “okay, I guess I’m ready for you.”
Because here’s the thing. There’s no reason to feel guilty about not getting around to some of the things I intended to, when the reason is that I was busy building community, investing in friendships, taking care of my body and getting regular exercise (and actually beginning to enjoy running?!?). Busy doing and enjoying life and being a little (yes, really) spontaneous. And here’s another thing. There is real, honest proof that we are not built and/or not expected to do everything. It’s just not possible. There are far few hours in a day, days in a month, months in a year to do everything. And that’s ok. You don’t have to do it all.
And if you really need to hear that, then here it is again… You don’t have to do it all. Hear those words and let it ring true. Let go of the belief that you’re superhuman. Because you’re not, and none of us are. And you’re not expected to be. Because there’s this really awesome thing called grace that acknowledges you’re a real, living human being with imperfections and flaws and a limited capacity to do things.
If we get ourselves too caught up with checking things off a list, we might just miss the beauty of the every day or the things we’re not expecting. The beauty of sitting in the middle of Broadway, crying over frozen yogurt and sprinkles and chocolate chips about homesickness and about how confusing boys are and about being 22. That time you and your roommates took shots on a Wednesday because that’s just what needed to happen. The time you had to buy paint and carry a ladder down 73rd street like a real adult because you wanted to paint your living room. Those things were definitely not on my bucket list. But they’re some of my most cherished memories. And I don’t think I would have given any of those things up for a chance to eat at The Boathouse. No, I definitely wouldn’t. In fact, I’d trade a reservation at The Boathouse just to do any one of those things over again.
There’s always next year. And the year after that, and after that.
And that’s ok.