In the fall of 2011, I made a list: thirty things I wanted to do before I turned thirty. I was twenty eight at the time. I’d just gone through a breakup that I was more relieved than sad about, I was living with my parents after a big move back from New York, and was feeling generally stalled out. Nothing was happening with my career, nothing was happening with my writing, and I no longer had the distinction of living in New York. So I started a blog, which I pitched as a column to a site I’d just begun reading and loved: The Gloss. I chronicled my adventures and reflections in a weekly column called Chasing Thirty, which I’ve now collected and made available as an e-book that you can download for free on Noisetrade Books.
I had great fun with the list and the column. During that year, I travelled to Argentina, joined a salsa dancing team, published one of my collecting-dust novels on the site in serial format, learned Spanish, and hosted a fake bachelorette party, among other adventures.
Re-reading these columns four years later has been an entertaining and somewhat sobering experience. It is no exaggeration to say that the very best and the very worst moments of my life have all taken place between now and when I began writing the column. I lost my sister, I met the love of my life and got engaged, I sold a novel, found a job I love. When I re-read these columns, I see harbingers of all of these things and am deeply grateful for the friends, family, and co-workers who’ve been by my side through the highs and lows.
I didn’t do all thirty things on the list. But I can see now that it was never about that. It was about figuring out what I really wanted and finding a way to put that out into the world. To say it aloud, to write it down. Writing the weekly column forced me to reflect on what it meant to be me in that moment. What did I fear? What did I hope for? Who was I and what did I want?
Looking back on the experience is a great reminder that when you feel stuck, the best to do is to start moving and keep moving. Even if you don’t find yourself going in exactly the right direction, you’ll be going somewhere, and sometimes, that’s all you need.