From the Pages of my Childhood Bucket List

In general, I’m a pretty nostalgic person. I love to look through old pictures, read old messages, and reminisce on some of my favorite memories. As a self-proclaimed writer, over the years I have invested a lot of time in journals, diaries, and I even have a shoebox under my bed full of memories from my first semester of college. Many of those journals have been recycled by now but a few years ago I found a spiral notebook with Bucket List scribbled on the front. It was laying on top of a moleskin journal separated into three categories: Places to go, Things to do, and People to meet. These lists are full of commentary that are pretty reflective of past versions of myself. I can almost nearly pinpoint when I wrote something based on the handwriting, the color pen I used, and what it says.

Much to my surprise, I had not accomplished a single thing that a former me wanted to do. Some of the things on there, I may never accomplish. Younger me definitely was ambitious but she was naive too. Places to go is full of international locations and activities—many of which I do not recognize anymore. I either didn’t understand the expense involved in traveling or planned on being very successful in the future. Things to do involves people who were taken from this earth much too soon. Reading these over really put things into perspective for me. Seeing this list of things I’d never be able to do with people I may never see again definitely reminded me that tomorrow isn’t promised. I thought that section would have been the hardest to read, until I flipped to People to meet. The only name listed was my own.

I don’t remember writing that, but I can only imagine how lost I was feeling when I did. When I found these lists I was still feeling pretty lost. I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to be. But I felt this urge to start checking things off these lists I had written so long ago. I felt like I owed it to myself to explore the opportunities I had previously sought after. I thought with each activity I crossed out then maybe I’d get closer to meeting myself.

Over the years, I’ve managed to accomplish quite a bit. I’ve had to make some modifications and most activities were unplanned. I’ve had conversations with park benches and gravestones. I’ve avoided danger or consequences by dialing some of my bucket list items back but I mostly just ceased the opportunities when I saw them.  I’ve combined entries and checked off multiple boxes in the same day but, I’m pretty content with how far I’ve come since I stumbled on these notebooks and decided I wanted to share some of the things I’ve done:

Run up the “Rocky” Staircase

In all honesty, this is probably one of the dumbest things on the entire bucket list. I can guarantee I had not seen Rocky when I wrote this and most definitely saw it on Pinterest or Tumblr and thought, “Oh I should add that in case I’m ever in Philly.” Well I went to Philly, and I did it. The only thing this taught me is that Sylvester Stallone has STAMINA. But Philadelphia did give me a greater appreciation for public art and inspire my desire to get into community development and planning.

Write something that means something

When I wrote this, I can only imagine I was dreaming of writing the next great American novel. I definitely didn’t expect one of my HerCampus articles would blow up and be republished by dozens of advocacy groups, community leaders, and concerned stakeholders. I wrote this article in my residence hall’s lounge at 2am in response to a disappointing news article I had read. This op-ed led to several invitations to speak about my experiences battling anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism as a college student. After sidelining my advocacy career to focus on school, this article brought me back into that world and reminded me just how important the work I did was. This prompted me to get more involved in advocacy work and social justice learning on campus.

Carve my initials into the beech tree at town hall + break a rule on purpose

This is a perfect example of modified and combined entries. I didn’t get to carve my initials into that beech tree. I don’t even know if the bark on that tree would have space for my initials and so I had to settle for carving them somewhere else. More specifically, on a bridge I stumbled upon while leaf peeping with my friends. There’s a sign that says not to carve into the wood. I wanted to have an experience of breaking a rule but one I knew wouldn’t have any serious repercussions. Maybe a younger me wanted to have an epic story where I had a crazy night and did something serious but that’s just not something I could afford to take and so I had to settle for carving my initials into a bridge I’ll probably never see again. It’s comforting knowing I’ve left my mark somewhere on this world.

Shave my head again, but this time for you

When I shaved my head for the first time, I did it for a reason. There was a purpose for my actions but a part of me wanted to just shave my head--- no fundraising, no expectations or reasons, just do it to do it. After I found out I could pull off a bald head, I promised myself I would grow my hair out and make the same dramatic haircut for no reason. Shaving my head was so freeing. There was no expectation of time-consuming styling, there was no pressure to keep up with the latest styles or trends, I just got to exist. The past few years I have been longing for that feeling again. Every once in a while, I would get motivated to shave my head again, but I’d be at school and by the time I was home to get my hair done, I’d have forgotten about it. The real catalyst was actually me starting to write this article and rereading those Bucket Lists again and seeing this. This time I did it for me and in the planning process I learned a lot about how I rely on the approval of others. I kept asking my close friends and family if I should and one night, I realized how messed up that was. That night I decided I was going to shave my head no matter what anyone said. I didn’t want to think myself out of it so I walked upstairs and started doing it and it felt really good to just do something without thinking about it too much.

At the end of the day, I don’t know if checking entries off has really taught me much about myself. Maybe that I like crossing things off on lists. I’m not sure if these things I’ve done have helped me find out who I really am, but I know for sure that I’m a hell of a lot closer than I was when I wrote these Bucket Lists. Maybe that’s come with age, maybe it’s come with maturity and the everyday life experiences, but I like to think younger me knew exactly what she was doing when she wrote down all these things. I may never get to zipline in the Amazon Rainforest or thumb wrestle a monkey but there are plenty of more realistic entries for me to cross off. I’ve even added a few things and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.