I’ve had 29 years and 8 months of experiences. And as Colbert would say, I love experiencing experiences. Many of these experiences have made me a better person. Others have made great stories. At the end of the day, these 29 experiences have helped make me the person I am today.
29. Watching my high school football team win the state playoffs. The rain, the chilly weather, and awful playing conditions definitely made the showdown seem Hollywood-worthy. It also solidified my love of the game and being a fan.
28. Riding out a tornado at Sea World. I know, sounds like a Sharknado spin-off, but it happened. While I don’t think it really shaped me, it’s unforgettable.
27. Harvesting wine grapes. Never underestimate the power of a working weekend vacation.
26. Road tripping late at night. When you’re in college, it’s always a great idea to drive 5 hours one way from Columbia, MO to Ames, Iowa and back on a weeknight to see Frank Warren speak. It’s also always a good idea to go for extensively long weeknight drives to air out frustration, even if you do end up in Fulton, MO.
25. Seeing Hot Hot Heat perform at the Blue Note in Columbia, Missouri my freshman year. I didn’t know who they were, but I do now, and it continues to stand as the best concert experience I’ve ever had.
24. Getting my tattoos. There are people who appreciate body art and people who don’t. I OBVIOUSLY love it – even if those two-three weeks after going under the needle are less than comfortable.
23. Finishing a whole chapstick. No, for real, it happened. I couldn’t believe it, and I don’t think that I’ve ever felt a greater sense of achievement.
22. Finishing my first book. Despite the fact that I will never, ever, ever have that one published, it was truly a labor of love and one of the top 5 things I’m proud of in my life.
21. Seeing Barack Obama speak at Mizzou before the election. It wasn’t just that he was a phenomenal speaker or that he became President, it was the whole process and feeling of the night. When there’s that much energy focused in the same direction, you can feel it in the air.
20. Getting pulled over for the first time. I drive with purpose. Sometimes that purpose is also quite urgent (or I feel like it is, anyway) and I end up driving a little faster than I should. I doubt that I’ll ever NOT drive like this, but the first time I got pulled over will always stick in my mind when I hit that one speed…
19. Being snow-stranded in NYC. As much as I love my friends and love traveling, I’m really, really bad when my travels don’t go as planned. I learned a ton about my tolerance for incongruity that three days.
18. Taking a positive psychology class. This class was one of the least-important classes I’ve ever taken, but I also have to say that
17. Seeing my name in print for the first time. It was addictive, and I still miss it a little. But in the end, I’m not about that cutthroat life and I want to actually MAKE change happen, not just write about people who do.
16. My second first kiss. When your first kiss is at age 5 on the playground, the second one is the real first one.
15. Doing missionary work in Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass. The summer after my freshman year of high school, I went on a mission trip with my (soon-to-be-abandoned-by-me) church. A lot of what happened on that trip informed my opinions about missionary vs aid work and helped me realize what I consider to be my ultimate goal in life: helping others.
14. Finally attending an Aimee Mann concert. I’ve loved Aimee Mann’s music since I was but a wee middle school student, so actually seeing her in concert after years of pining was absolutely amazing. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
13. Earning a journalism degree at Mizzou. Believe me, Mizzou’s undergrad program truly deserves its notoriety. There are things you learn about life, people, and the world as a working reporter that you can’t learn any other way. And Mizzou is the best place to do it.
12. Breaking my tailbone. So much pain. Going to classes and standing up the whole time. Not being able to actually SIT for a while. Whole thing.
11. The first time I bought something in a single-digit size. Yes, body positivity! We’re all beautiful! But really, I still remember the day that I actually fit into a size 8 pants and I started crying in the dressing room.
10. Every time I’ve thrown a dance. I love hosting things, whether it’s at my house or elsewhere. Homecoming at MHS, the Honors dances at Mizzou, I loved all the stress and excitement combined.
9. Graduating high school. I know, my college degree doesn’t make the cut, but this one does? Yeah, because leaving high school is like discovering that a whole world is open to you. That feeling is the best in the world.
8. Watching the kids I taught for three years move on to high school. I had all the feels with this one, because in my mind and heart, those kids were my kids – still are. I was a hot fucking mess for like 48 hours, but I wouldn’t trade knowing those kiddos for anything.
7. Buying a house. I’m so bad at making decisions that I can still remember the anxiety I felt at pulling the trigger on buying my house. Yet, I absolutely love it and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
6. Almost flipping my car in the snow. Aaaaaand continuing to drive from Columbia, MO to Olathe, KS because I was determined to make it the hell out of dodge for the holiday. I was a fool. But oh well.
5. Going through therapy. Best decision I’ve made for my own health, ever. If you truly want to know yourself and improve your life, consider it.
4. Adopting & rehabilitating a street dog (or three). Each of my fur babies have come to me with their own stories and their own struggles. Figuring out earn their trust, keep them healthy, and make them a part of the family made me a better person.
3. Studying abroad in South America. It make have been a short stay, but learning how to communicate across cultures, expanding my horizons, and building connections in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay really made an impact on how I imagined my future and what I believed I could do.
2. Being a PA. I swear, being a PA was the best preparation for anything life can throw at me. Except like, paying taxes and bills and whatnot. But everything else? Yeah. Definitely. And it gave me confidence I never had before – so I owe ResLife one (or 18,000).
1. Traveling alone. I recently went to the UAE and Ghana, but I’ve been other places on my own before – from Chicago to Boston to road trips galore. Truth is, you learn something new about yourself with each trip.