In two months, I’ll turn 35. It’s not a milestone age like 25 or 30 or 40. But yet, it stills feels like something. It feels like I’m really, really an adult now. And part of that is because I have a 9-to-5 job where I manage someone, a husband and a kid, in addition to a 401K and lots ‘o bills. I’m happy to say that I have accomplished many of the things I set out to do as a kid and even a young adult. I’ve traveled, lived abroad and seen my name in print so many times I’ve lost count. Other accomplishments have been unexpected such as starting a new career in marketing at age 30 that now has me at a director level in a global technology company and living in the Big Apple, not as a floundering 20-something but as a solidly professional 30-something with a family.
But I live to dream—you always have to have something you’re working towards. That’s what keeps life exciting, keeps me motivated. And I still have a few big dreams I plan to chase even as a “real” adult.
1. Write a book
This is my biggest unrealized dream. I am so incredibly thankful for the career I’ve had in all of its iterations. But I cannot die happy until I write a book and get it published, whether that’s through a publishing house or self-publishing, although I would honestly prefer the former. I met with a literary agent back in 2009, before I applied for my visa to Australia. She had found me via my work with AOL. But the time wasn’t right, nor was the subject matter she was envisioning for me as I built my platform something I necessarily wanted to pursue.
What I really want to do, and have been working on in fits and starts over the last three years—in between moving from Sydney to New York City, getting pregnant, having a baby, moving apartments, switching jobs and dealing with all of the other things life has thrown my family’s way—is write a memoir about my time in Australia. It wouldn’t just be about my move and my travels but also about my emotional growth as I climbed through a quarter-life crisis and dealt with some of the demons from my past. I have about 40,000 words in the can and a book proposal—I just need to stop dragging my feet and send it out. Maybe announcing this goal publicly will help give me the kick that I need.
Image by Brittany Stevens on Creative Commons
2. Start a volunteer program
This one probably come as a complete surprise even to those who know me well. For years, I’ve had the idea of starting a writing program for kids and adolescents going through emotional trauma. The genesis of this notion lies in my own experience losing my dad at age 16 in addition to my little sister’s experience as a 9-year-old. I’m totally pro-therapy and know how much that can help in times of duress—but not every parent can afford that for their child.
What if there was a free program in schools where these kids could spend an hour writing about their feelings, being coached about how to talk about their experiences and express and make sense of them? It could provide a lifelong outlet for when times get rough. I have zero clue how to go about doing something like this—if you’re reading and you do, I’d love for you to get in touch.
3. Maintain my personal brand
Those who’ve followed my blog know that I’ve gone back and forth between 9-to-5 work and freelancing over the last few years. This is likely to continue, as I’ve realized that different points in your life necessitate different arrangements. But even when I am working for a full-time office job I love, I want to be able to maintain my personal brand and the opportunities that come with writing about travel, my time as an expat and other lifestyle topics. I am lucky to have had two very supportive bosses in a row who support my opportunities outside work, but I also now face the time crunch of being a mother who works full-time. Many nights, even though I know I could be writing a blog post or connecting with people on Twitter, I am too exhausted to do anything but curl up on the couch. I need to carve out more time to keep working on the other stuff that interests me.
4. Buy property
As those of you who have followed my story for a while know, I co-owned a condo in Philadelphia when I was in my 20s. I’ve been in no particular rush to buy again, but I would like to be a homeowner again someday, even if it’s buying a small unit in the city that we can rent out and eventually sell in the decades to come (I’m all about ramping up my net worth). The good thing is Brendan and I have saved a good deal of money and have our debts and credit in a good place. So really, we just have to decide when the time is right. Which brings me to Goal #5…
5. Decide where we really want to be
Brendan and I have strong wanderlust. We’ve also lived in cities for our entire relationship, not to count our previous individual years living in the Philadelphia area. I am constantly torn between living in a city and moving to the suburbs. I wish there was a middle ground—a small starter suburb that’s more like a mini-city. The idea of going straight from concrete jungle to cul-de-sac central just makes me itchy. Maybe this is an impossible goal—a fellow New York mom said to me over the weekend that she thinks everyone who lives in this city is constantly battling whether or not to leave it. But I’d love to feel at least a little more definitive in what we want for ourselves and our kids in terms of location than I do right now.
6. Raise happy, healthy, kind children
This is obviously a long-term goal. I am not the most patient person, and this transfers to how I mother at times. Toddlers can really test your sanity. But I want to be conscious of the cues Finn picks up from me and model the best behavior I can for him. I don’t want him to be the worrier I have been my whole life or lack confidence. I also don’t want to push my kids to walk a path that’s not right for them or get caught up in too much competitiveness. Of course I want Finn and any subsequent children to be smart and do well, but there are many ways of cultivating that.
I’d love to hear your grown-up goals!