I know, I know, I know: you will see a variation of this type of listicle everywhere. "Twenty Things to Do Before 20", "The Ten Things You MUST Do Before You're 25!!", "Fifteen Things That Have to Happen Before 30 Or Else You Wasted Your 20s - and they all have some variation of the same thing: travel, stretch your limits, learn a new language, do something silly, take a certain set of risks.
They can be incredibly off-putting, especially if you already hit that age. Well, I've yet to backpack through Europe and I still haven't taken a cooking course, so that "Twentysix things before 26" can officially pound sand.
But here you go. Here are three things you actually have to do before 30. Or 20. Or 40. Or 50. Really, before whatever age. Before next week. Before tomorrow. I'm choosing 30 because I just turned 29, so my egocentric heart is picking the big 3-0:
Thing Number One: Give Yourself Some Credit.
Life is tough. Life is unpredictable. Life will throw curveballs at you in ways you didn't even think possible. Man makes plans and God laughs (or, if you're not one to believe in God, man makes plans and Murphy's Law laughs. Either way, someone/something is laughing and you're getting screwed).
So, seriously: give yourself some credit. People will make plans & goals and fall horribly short of them. Stop being so rough on yourself. Is there room for improvement? Of course. Should we all be striving to become better people? Most definitely. But that doesn't mean we should think less of ourselves for what we haven't done yet.
So yeah. Credit. Give yourself it.
Thing Number Two: Give Yourself Some Forgiveness.
After you're done giving yourself some credit, give yourself some forgiveness. Seriously: stop beating yourself up. You're doing the best you can with what you've got. People make mistakes. People slip-up. People say things they didn't mean to say, do things they didn't mean to do, go down paths that they never intended or thought they'd go down. To err is to human, and to forgive is divine.
And when you're done giving yourself forgiveness, extend that out to other people. Don't forget that they're human, too.
So - got that? Number two on that list: Forgiveness. Give yourself some of that as well.
Thing Number Three: Find Yourself Some Gratitude.
Most of us could be here all day, talking about the things that bother us, the things that are going wrong, the things that make our existence difficult. But you know what? We could also be here all day, talking about the things that make us smile, the things that go right, the things that make our lives easier. We really could - and we could probably spend even more time on that second idea if we properly opened our eyes and found some gratitude.
Life is tough. There's no way around that. But whether you believe in a higher power or believe it's all just chaos and anarchy, there's no denying that our existences are nothing short of miraculous. We are the result of eons and eons of events, all happening in such a specific way that, had anything shifted to the left or to the right, we probably wouldn't be here at all. We get this amazing concept of life and consciousness and experience. We get to see and touch and hear and love and help and live.
And it's going to be tough. People will have it worse than us. People will have it better. But no matter where we fall on the spectrum, we have to find some gratitude. We'll go mad if we don't. It can be as formal as writing out the things that you are thankful for or as simple as taking Kurt Vonnegut's advice: pausing for a moment when something is going well and going, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."
Seriously. After you're done giving yourself some credit and forgiveness, find yourself some gratitude.
So there you have it. The three things you actually have to do before 30. Or 40. Or 50. Or 29 and 1/365ths. Really, at any time. At multiple times - throughout your life, throughout the day. Just try to focus more on those and less on whether or not you spent a summer in Asia before turning 25.