How to Check Off Your Bucket List

It’s the fourth year of school, and I can't help but look back on everything I’ve done in the past three years and ask myself, where has the time gone?

I thought it was a question only over-the-hill people asked themselves, but as graduation gets closer and my childhood and young adult years get farther away, I’m left wondering what happened. Thankfully, I have another year after this one, but my friends who are graduating in the spring are looking around frantically for jobs, beefing up their resumes, and sneaking in those last credit hours that were originally intended for freshmen. Seeing their stress makes me stress, and I keep adding up all my “accomplishments” to find that they're pretty much nonexistent. I came to college with a bucket list in mind, a set of goals, dreams, desires, and plans that were to be said and done by graduation. Things like studying abroad in England, writing a novel, and falling in love. If I were to pull out that list right now, I wouldn’t be able to check off any of those things, leaving my brain overloaded with a mantra that would chant, “You have to do this now, now, now so you don’t fail, fail, fail.”

But then, if I looked at that list again, maybe I could check off everything.

Maybe I didn’t study abroad in England, but I studied abroad in Thailand, and that unexpected adventure will carry me through till I’m old and gray and have dentures to tell my stories with. And when I’m eventually drinking a cup of afternoon tea with milk and honey in a little coffee shop in London, I know I’ll be wishing for some 60 cent Thai tea instead.

Maybe I didn’t write a novel, but I faced my fear of failing and jumped into the major of creative writing so that I could gain the skills to eventually write one that will make the future Lauren proud.

Maybe I didn’t fall in love with the man of my dreams, but I fell in love with myself and the people I surround myself with, and that’s something I never thought I’d be able to say.

So to graduating fifth years, fourth years, or anyone who’s graduating in under that (you intelligent beings you), I leave you with this cautionary tirade of advice.

Jump off the teeter totter of fear and into the unexpected toil of downturns, upturns, failures, and successes. You’re not stuck in quicksand, so nothing can truly prevent you from chasing your heart. Sometimes dreams are realized in unexpected ways. We face regret, we face failure, we sometimes face not getting everything we want for only a portion of it, but we live, we survive, we thrive. College, careers, loves, families, and pretty much everything else cannot be written in a pretty list and then checked off like I’ve tried to do so many times. Curveballs are thrown, potholes are hit, and mirrors are broken. But this time we have here, now, and for the rest of our lives, is meant to be enjoyed.

When did we start measuring our lives by how many accomplishments we have rather than by how happy we have been? 

So do you're best not to worry about fulfilling your list, worry about fulfilling your life.