When I was fourteen years old, I delivered a speech at my eighth grade graduation about my bucket list, a compilation of items such as “dye my hair blue”, “try escargot”, and “go skydiving”. Objectively, one could say I’ve been quite successful in accomplishing some of these goals—my hair still has traces of cobalt from a late-night impulse, I have in fact managed to down one spongy snail, and though my skydiving escapade has yet to happen, the plans are still very much concrete, much to the displeasure of my mother. I have in fact done many of the things that a fourteen-year-old Virginia hoped she would do, with the exception of “star on Broadway” and “compete in the Olympics”, though ultimately those ideas might have been pushing it from the beginning. In fact, in the past five years since I delivered my infamous graduation speech, my life has changed in ways I could have never imagined; yet the girl behind them all has remained someone with excitement in her heart, someone who sought adventure and beauty and appreciated a good blue hairdo.
Recently however, I started thinking about my bucket list, and how many items I’d checked off, or had simply changed my mind about. I am a different person than I was at the time of my eighth grade bucket-list-speech; simply because of the experiences I’ve had in the years following. Half of the things that have shaped me most significantly into who I am were not even on my bucket list at all—they happened purely out of sheer luck I suppose. Having a plan for your life is exciting, but I think the most beautiful, most character-shaping things happen without any expectation at all. College has taught me that the hard way, but ultimately I am a changed person from who I was five years ago, six months ago, even last week because of it, and that is a terrifying, exciting, and beautiful thing all at once.
So I decided to write another bucket list, perhaps one could say my “college bucket list” or my “undergrad bucket list” but to me it’s more of a life bucket list. I can’t say for sure if any of these things will happen during my college experience, or even during my life at all, but in writing this all I hope is that ultimately one crazy, unexpected adventure after another will lead me to all of these things, in ways I never could have imagined. Adventures are ahead, and my life will be changed because of them whether I like it or not. Here’s to that, and here’s to an eight-grade gal with big dreams, may she continue to find adventures at every turn.
1. Find purpose.
Purpose feels like such a terrifying word, and recently as a college student I’ve felt it heavier than I ever have before. So often I feel lost beyond belief, so completely disoriented when people ask me what I plan to do with my life. The truth is however, I think life itself is purpose, and individually we can all find our purpose in the different scenarios we are faced with. I’ve included this on my bucket list as a daily goal to myself—to find my purpose, my passion, and my heart in everything I do. Finding purpose is about finding what makes you feel complete, loved, and overwhelmingly excited, and I think this changes as the world changes, as you change. I think that’s the beauty of it.
2. Be fearless.
Being fearless doesn’t have to mean not feeling that little twinge of fear wrapping itself around your heart every time something scares you, but rather, by vowing to try and be fearless, I want to begin to let go of fears I have that will hold me back from adventure, from love, from a life we all deserve. I think being fearless means chasing your passions no matter how much it scares you, booking a plane ticket to a place you’ve always dreamed of going, or simply giving your all to the people around you whom you truly love. In college, and in life, I want to move fearlessly forward, stop saying no to things I truly want to do, and to live an existence worth being excited about.
3. Be kind and be grateful.
I want to be the kind of person people can trust. I want to be the kind of person who appreciates things, who truly listens, who loves honestly and gives and gives and gives. I think this is something I will forever continue to work on, to truly grasp the world around me, and to treat it with all the kindness I have. I will work to spread love, not poison.
4. Take care of myself.
Ultimately, none of the things I hope to accomplish will ever take place without a sound mind and body, one that has been cared for, looked after, and truly loved from the inside out. I think so often we forget about self-care because of everything happening around us, but truly all change has to begin within ourselves. I want to learn to love my body and its incredible power, and to treat it with love and respect and tenderness. I want to become strong in all ways possible, to truly understand just how capable my body is and treat it as such.
I suppose this one is simple. I want to love, to spread love, to give love, and to feel love. I think an eighth-grade Virginia would have wanted this too, and honestly, I think everyone does.