I had my thirtieth birthday party at a trendy bar in Brooklyn. I wore a red dress and a smile. But just an hour before, I’d been a nervous wreck. Turning thirty was a huge milestone, and unlike turning twenty-one, this birthday didn’t come with an exciting rite of passage. It just felt scary. At dinner before the party, my anxiety swelled to a level that even the mac and cheese I was eating couldn’t cure. I excused myself to the restroom and stared at myself in the mirror, bargaining. Maybe I could skip my own party, or just stay twenty-nine forever? Luckily, my friends made sure I got in the cab with them, and I ended up having an absolute blast.
Powering through my fears and throwing that party sums up the biggest lesson I wish I had learned before turning thirty: how to accept who I am, “flaws” and all.
In Things to Do Before You’re 30 I’ve compiled the top six hundred bucket list items everyone should complete before celebrating their big three-oh. From smaller feats you can achieve in your day-to-day life to important life skills and must-see places around the world, Things to Do Before You’re 30 has everything you need to make the most of your twenties. Pick a small item or two to complete during the week, or plan an entire trip with a bucket list activity in mind. Now is the time to figure out being an adult, but it is also the time to live it the heck up. Push back against the boundaries of your own routine. Conquer a phobia, watch burly German men dance the polka at Oktoberfest, let go of old grudges between siblings.
These are the years of you.
Something else to remember: your bucket list doesn’t magically end after twenty-nine. You can bring your unfinished list items into your thirties, or even redo your favorite ones over and over. Turning thirty can feel like the period at the end of a really long sentence, but the truth is that it’s just a comma.
1. Read aloud to your partner in bed, and vice versa.
2. Ask your grandparents what they were doing when they were your age.
Were they already married with three kids? Working at a factory or in medical school? Serving in the army?
3. Set up two like-minded friends on a date.
4. Learn how to belly dance.
5. Master the art of surviving a breakup.
Like many people, you’ll probably experience a number of breakups in your twenties, from the completely soul-destroying to the more manageable but still painful. Breakups often feel like a small death, and the pain afterward like a type of mourning—mourning not only the past relationship, but the future you’d planned and imagined with that person. At the time, the wound of any breakup feels permanent. But as anyone can tell you, it gets a little easier with each day, and in that recovery period you learn so much about your own strength, resilience,
and confidence. Some good ways to cope include talking to a professional, keep your social calendar full with friends and family, and throw yourself into work and your hobbies. it is also a good time to make a list of what you want (and don’t want!) in a partner going forward.
6. Take a loved one to see his or her favorite professional sports team.
7. Write a love letter.
It can be to a significant other, a friend, or yourself.
8. Kiss someone during a fireworks display.
9. Date someone who isn’t your “type.”
Do you usually go for skinny hipster types? Take a chance and go out with that cute jock. Get a beer with a blonde if you’re usually only into brunettes. You might be surprised at who makes your heart flutter—maybe your soul mate doesn’t have curly hair or play football, like you once thought.
10. Get a couple’s massage.
11. Go on a second date with someone even if the first date wasn’t knock-your-Converse-off amazing.
First dates are nerve-racking. Often people feel awkward and clam up, or ramble in an attempt to fight off those uncomfortable silences. You shouldn’t give someone who was disrespectful or just obviously not a match a second chance, but if you’re on the fence about it and the first date was fun, go ahead and meet up again.
12. Drive throughout the night with someone.
Play music or just enjoy the peaceful feeling of being the only two people awake.
13. Ask someone on a date.
Your armpits will be damp. Your heart will be pounding. You’ll stumble over your words (even if you’re texting). But what if he says yes?
These bucket-list items are only the tip of the iceberg! If you’re looking for the perfect graduation gift, pick up a copy of THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU’RE THIRTY, which has 600 (!!) inspirational suggestions in all.