20 things you need to do during your twenties

20 things to do in your 20s

The ultimate bucket list for your 20s.

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I turn 20 in September, so I only saw it fit to make a list of 20 things I think everyone should do during this crazy decade.

1. Go to Europe.

Whether you're a big traveler or not, I think everyone should plan a trip to Europe. It is extraordinarily beautiful, has rich history, and makes for an amazing vacation. Whether you go with your girlfriends or significant other, it is sure to be the trip of a lifetime.

2. Go skydiving.

This one is for my fellow adrenaline junkies. What better way to embrace your youth by soaring through the air at ungodly speeds? I can't think of a better way.

3. Go to Las Vegas with your best friends.

Plan a wild, crazy trip to Las Vegas with your best gals and guys and just live it up while you can!

4. Pursue the degree of your dreams.

Your 20s are the ideal time to pursue your dreams. One of the biggest steps you can take towards reaching your dream job is getting the degree(s) you need that will help you get there. Whether that be just a bachelor's degree, master's, or doctorate, go for it.

5. Get into really good shape (and stay in shape).

If you weren't really dedicated to working our and/or eating healthy during your teen years, use your 20s as a time to get into shape and make your diet a little cleaner. Your body will thank you.

6. Run a marathon.

I've been running since I was 4 years old, so it should come as no surprise that I'd like to run a marathon one day. And honestly, the older I get, it will only get harder.

7. Get your own place.

Yes I have an apartment now, but I also have three roommates. Before I'm thirty I want a place of my own where I can decorate everything just the way I want without having to get the approval of roommates.

8. Live in the city.

As a segway from number 7, I'd love my own place to be in the city! I grew up in a relatively small town, and from the little taste of city-life that I've gotten, I absolutely want to experience it. Ideally, I'd like to live in Nashville, Boston, New York, San Diego, or Boston, but we'll see where I end up.

9. Write a book.

As an english major and want-to-be literature professor, it seems only natural that writing a book would make it on my list. I'm not sure what genre I want to try out, but we'll see where the words take me.

10. Buy stock.

Yeah this probably wasn't something you expected to see on this list, but I think buying stock is something every twenty-something year old should look in to doing! If you're smart about it and get advised well, it could end up making you lots of money.

11. Go to Coachella.

As a music-junkie, going to Coachella would be an absolute dream. Beyond just the world-renowned artists that perform at the festival each year, the scenery is out of this world.

12. Overcome my fear of the ocean/bay.

Since I was a little girl, I have an extreme fear of all natural waters. Well, mostly the creatures that live in those waters. This fear has prevented me from doing many fun things like swimming in the ocean, tubing, etc, so I think it's time to work on getting over it.

13. Road-Trip across the U.S.

I've always wanted to go on a cross-country road-trip, and I don't think there's a better time to do it than your twenties!

14. Take a random trip.

Decide to go somewhere and in less than 24 hours, buy a plane ticket and just go!

15. Rescue an animal.

I have a huge passion for animals, so I definitely want to save a dog from the pound or the foster system and adopt them into my family.

16. Find a charity to volunteer at monthly.

Preferably an animal-related charity, but I just want to fine one that I am passionate about and try to make a difference.

17. Go on a crazy shopping spree.

Save up to go on a crazy, budget-free shopping spree. Just a day full of spending and treating myself.

18. Ride in a hot-air balloon.

This won't bring on as much of an adrenaline rush as skydiving, but it will still be breathtaking.

19. Take pictures of everything.

I have a bad habit of not taking enough pictures, and I am going to make an effort to take more in my twenties.

20. Be happy and live my best life.

I'm already insanely happy, and I plan to keep it that way throughout my twenties.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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