April 25, 2017

I am turning 30 next week! I have a lot of feelings about that and things I want to do in my 30s, but I’ll save those for another post. Today, I wanted to take a moment to appreciate my 20s, all the amazing things I did, the places I saw, and the people I did them with. It was an amazing decade, and I’m so thankful for it.

Your 20s really are a period of self-discovery. I tried new jobs, fell in love, learned so much, grew up as I moved out on my own, and figured out who I am and what I really want out of life. Because of the amazing experiences I had, I feel like I’m going into my 30s self-assured and confident in who I am. I’m ready to enter my 30s, but I will always look back on my 20s with wonder and ask myself if I really did all of these things.

My reverse bucket list for my 20s:

1. I rocked 5 deployments. Every time Nick left, I would do something for myself. Once I got an awesome new job, another time I started my Masters degree. There were many beach days, some tears, lots of takeout, and many hours spent emailing Nick on his submarine. But I finished each one stronger than before, more confident in myself, and a lot more grown up.

finding ithaka (1 of 10)

2. And I hugged Nick tight when he came home.

the two year honeymoon (1 of 1)

3. I hiked all over Hawaii.

finding ithaka (1 of 1)

4. I celebrated the holidays in Denmark with Nick and his sister. We got the full hygge experience, drinking hot chocolate, sitting outside to eat dinner and drink wine while cozied under blankets, lingering in cozy coffee shops, and walking all over Tivoli.

finding ithaka (9 of 10)

5. I took a road trip through New Zealand with Nick for our honeymoon.

New Zealand the Two Year Honeymoon

6. I went wine tasting in Napa to celebrate two years of marriage with Nick.

Anniversary Trip to Napa {Part 2} The Two Year Honeymoon (1 of 1)-2

7. I PCSed with Nick three times in three years: to Hawaii, then Connecticut, and then back to Hawaii. This is us 5 days after we got married, PCSing to Hawaii.

moving to hawaii (1 of 1)

8. I walked on a glacier.

franz josef glacier-12

9. I got to ride a real live working submarine and see Nick in action.

finding ithaka (8 of 10)

10. I watched more sunrises than I can count.

finding ithaka (7 of 10)

11. I started this blog that I have come to be super proud of. Because of this blog, I’ll have more pictures of myself than I’ll ever need. Thankfully, I have a great blog husband who doesn’t mind.

biking on lake champlain finding ithaka (15 of 22)

12. I hung out with sled dogs in Alaska.

finding ithaka (1 of 2)

13. I met Nick right after I turned 20. We got married 5 years later.

the two year honeymoon - wedding pictures (10 of 12)

14. I got a bachelor’s degree in English. This is a picture of me working on my senior thesis, which I wrote about Harry Potter and will never stop talking about.

finding ithaka (1 of 2)

15. I got a Masters degree in Health Communication. I lived at home so I didn’t have to pay rent, so I was able to pay for that degree without taking any loans and I am really thankful for that.

finding ithaka (5 of 10)

16. I went to Mt. Rainier.

finding ithaka (3 of 10)

17. I pretended I was a Hogwarts student, drinking butterbeer and walking around Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. I couldn’t get Nick to dress up, but he still humored me and played along!

PCSing in pictures (2 of 2)

18. I hiked in Yosemite National Park and then at night I saw more stars than I’ve ever seen in my life.

Panoramic Trail Yosemite (14 of 41)

19. I surprised my dad in New York when I was supposed to be in Hawaii.

Right after the surprise!

20. I planned a surprise birthday party for Nick.

finding ithaka (10 of 10)

21. I took a road trip through Washington and Oregon with Nick and walked in a real, live rainforest, the Hoh Rainforest.

finding ithaka (2 of 10)

22. I went with my mom to visit one of my best friends in Bulgaria.

finding ithaka (6 of 10)

23.  I got paid to write. I studied English in college. You know how people say that an English degree is kind of pointless, like you can’t really get a good job with it? It’s a joke I heard a lot in college that always annoyed me, but I just had this idea that I would get some kind of writing job after college and I never really worried about it. I’ve gotten a couple of writing jobs since then. I’m proud of myself for actually being able to do that, thanks to my English degree, which taught me how to write, analyze, and think about things for myself, and of course, all of the coffee.

finding ithaka (1 of 1)-3

24. I learned how to cook. The very first meal I tried to make had to be thrown out, but since then, I’ve made some pretty good stuff. Baking is my favorite, for obvious reasons.

cookies (1 of 1)

25. I slept in a treehouse in Kauai.

Kauai (47 of 85)

26. I swam with Hawaiian green sea turtles.

the best place to see turtles on oahu (3 of 63)

27. I went on trips with my entire family. We went to Washington, Virginia, and Disney World. I feel like once people get older they don’t go on as many trips with their whole family so I am really thankful for those trips. Here’s my brother and me in Washington.

finding ithaka (4 of 10)

28. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw Starry Night with my friends.

finding ithaka (1 of 1)-2

29. I hiked 12.1 miles on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing in Pictures-11

I’m so lucky that my husband loves new adventures and traveling. Many of the things I did on this list were things I did with him, and most were even his idea! He always has something up his sleeve, some new place to go or thing to try. I am so thankful that I met Nick when I turned 20 and that we’ve built a great life together.

There is a theme to this list. The things that I remember from my 20s are the experiences I had, the trips I took, and the people I did those things with. Of course, I’m proud of academic and professional accomplishments, and I’m thankful for my degrees. But those are just a few items on my list of 29.

There’s so much more to my life than those things.

I want to remember this going into my 30’s. I want to remember to take the time to go on new adventures. I want to remember to turn off the TV and get outside. The things that matter most to me and are the things I’m going to pursue throughout my 30s. Hiking, new adventures, learning new things, exploring, time with family and friends — those are the things that I want more of in my 30s.

What are some of the awesome things did in your 20s? 

carolann signature (1 of 1)


15 responses to “29 awesome things I did in my 20s. And what that list taught me.”

  1. Jen says:

    You have done so much in your twenties but I know that your thirties will be just as amazing!!!

  2. Jenn says:

    I love the idea of reverse bucket lists! It helps us to be thankful for everything we’ve experienced! You’ve definitely had some great experiences in your 20s!!

  3. Audrey says:

    Five deployments. Hot dang, girl.
    SO much traveling. That’s so awesome. I can’t believe all the places you’ve been!
    You’re gonna ROCK your 30s!

  4. Sarah says:

    Oooh happy early birthday! You’ve had so many awesome travels, and two degrees – wow! I had no idea you did health communications. I hope your 30s are full of many more travels, people, achievements, books and of course, coffee ;P

  5. Leanna Cherry says:

    Wow I feel pretty lazy now. Hahaha, only kidding. I think you have your book at your fingertips. Go ahead and make your 30s the years when you became a published author! You have so many great things to look back on and to look towards.

  6. Leanna Cherry says:

    Wow I feel pretty lazy now. Hahaha, only kidding!! I think you have your book at your fingertips. Go ahead and make your 30s the years when you became a published author. You have so many great things to look back on and to look towards.

  7. Oh my goodness, this is AMAZING! You’ve been to so many places – I am inspired. Way to go and happy early birthday!

  8. You’ve done more incredible things in your twenties than loads of people ever do and what a wonderful idea it is to catalogue the best of them here & share so many of those epic stories with us here! And happy blog birthday too – I remember reading your blog in the early days like it was just yesterday!

  9. Julie says:

    Love this! You’ve done sooo much in your 20s! Wow! Happy early birthday!!! To many more amazing adventures with your man and your family and friends!

  10. Heidi says:

    Such a great list! You’ve done some amazing things in your 20s!

  11. Joyce says:

    Yay! So many awesome experiences! And I made it onto the list 🙂 Thanks for including me! Happy early birthday my great friend.

  12. Rachel G says:

    I did notice that Nick was a big part of many of the awesome experiences on your list! Also, how cool that he was some part of your life for basically the entire decade of your 20s! I have often thought it would be very cool to be an English major–I come from the family that says you’re not allowed to be an English major due to it’s impracticality…so obviously I became a Chinese major and ended up being an English teacher in Asia–which is basically my perfect job, although I sure didn’t realize that when I was a teenager needing to pick out college classes! I get to speak Mandarin to parents of students, and geek out over English grammar, and it’s awesome.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Wow girl, you are amazing!!!! Having the opportunity to travel and have adventures is the best thing about being in your 20s–love that you’ve been able to experience so much!! Happy early birthday! Also I’m kinda geeking out that you wrote about Harry Potter for your thesis!

  14. Happy early birthday! You have done so much in your 20’s and I seriously can’t even imagine PCSing just a few days after getting married. All of your travels really do sound so extraordinary, and I know that you’ll get to see and do and hike so much more in your 30s!

  15. Rachel says:

    This is a really cool way to reflect on everything that’s happened in your twenties. You’re right, they are a formative decade and you’ve had some pretty significant experiences! I turned 30 last year and it was very cool to start a new decade bringing with me what I learned from my twenties. Happy early birthday!

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