Do you think this’ll catch on?
I fear I’m a little late with this one, and the New Year season of goal-setting has already passed. So often I draft these posts in one mood, don’t get back to them for a few days, and then when I do everything has changed. So a few days ago I drafted pre-emptive excuses as to why I would not be posting this until now, full of the optimism of busy doing other things, but the truth seems to be more along the lines of serial colds and motivation that can only be clawed into view with broken fingernails. January is tough. And right now I mostly just want to hide. But I am glad to have this draft, to remind me of how I can feel. Here is the rest of what I wrote, and here is the hopeful spirit that perhaps to which I can soon return:
For anyone reading who does not know, I spent most of my university career suffering from various chronic illnesses but most notably ME. I finished my degree by the skin of my teeth and moved back in with my parents in June 2016, and there I’ve stayed, doing little more and planning little more than recovery. Though I had many aspirations, it seemed unwise to set any other concrete goals, even less wise to give them time limits. Now, I am allowing myself to bask in what seems a luxury of plans and ideas. I can be well, and happy, and successful. I can do all the things I want to do. I really can.
I’m 24 and a bit now, so I’ve got a little over five and a half years to get all this done, which sounds to me like a reassuringly huge amount of time. There is, however, something to be said for not holding yourself too many plans, and just seeing where life takes you. I also get terribly nervous that if I set goals I’ll be unfairly angry with myself if I don’t achieve them, which is why I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions and don’t plan to be. January is difficult enough as it is, and it seems far easier and kinder to spend it being happy with oneself.
Still, 30 is a lot of goals, and five and a half years is a difficult length of time to get my head around. It seems long, but at the same time, it does not seem long at all. It was only five and a half years ago that I was getting ready to leave for university. I don’t know what I should expect, in that time. How big I should dream. I came across this perhaps slightly wishy-washy article via a link on Facebook (possibly not a good start) and much as I would love to create the extraordinary life it describes, I just don’t know if that’s realistic. (Or perhaps it’s not slightly wishy-washy. What does it say about me, that I think stuff like this is wishy-washy, or rather, that I feel the need to say I think that on my blog just in case people think I’m being self-indulgent? I guess it comes back to the self-criticism thing. Which probably needs to be something to consider when I’m choosing my goals.) So I’ve tried to strike a sensible balance between the horribly timid ‘wow if I could just get a short story into a magazine that would be brilliant’, and the perhaps a bit bonkers ‘ideally I’d have three novels out by 30’. In all things, not just in my writing-related goals. Probably for some of these I don’t have enough time, and for others I have way too much.
Fortunately, I believe the general idea with 30 Before 30 is that at some stage you get to review: tick off the ones you’ve achieved, cross out the ones you no longer fancy, and possibly add some new ones – so there’s plenty of space in future for me to realise these are all wrong, get rid of them, and have a good laugh at my naive 24 year old self. Part of me is sceptical that I will still be ploddingly typing away on this little blog in August 2023, and suggesting that I might not is hardly a good strategy for attracting new readers, but I can at least promise myself that I will review these privately. Although given that this blog is two and a half years old now, perhaps it’s reasonable to expect that I will still be committed to it in November 2020, which will be my halfway and probably review point. We’ll see. Enough pramble. This post is going to be LONG. On with the goals.
1. Publish a novel – perhaps the one I’ve already written, but if not, I have many many more ideas. Plus I’m planning a BIG opportunity to improve (see below)
2. Publish a short story – something I would never have considered until recently, but I’ve been reading a lot more of these, and they seem a good way to demonstrate my writing ability without readers having to commit to an entire novel. And again see below, there could be further impetus to write these
3. Publish a non-fiction article – somewhere other than this blog. Most authors need other jobs as well, and magazine journalism is my dream one, but if that (also) doesn’t work out, even a teeny-tiny article on somebody else’s website would be amazing
4. Get a Masters degree in Creative Writing – hopefully thus facilitating the first three
5. Have a fulfilling 9-5 job – get up in the morning, go to work, be engaged all day, come home in the evening, earn enough to live. Reasonable ask, surely?
6. Decide where to live – because I don’t want to live in London, but I don’t want to be too far from my friends there, and although I’d consider Cornwall in future I don’t think it’s right for the rest of my twenties, and mostly I just really want to know Where I Live, for the time being at least
7. Live alone – goodness knows how I’ll ever be able to afford it, but there are few things I want more in life than to have a little flat all to myself where I can do what I want and nobody can bother me except…
8. Get guinea pigs – …I am neither a dog nor a cat nor a people person but I’d be delighted to have guinea pigs bothering me as soon as I’m living somewhere suitable
9. Stop taking Betahistine – which is the medicine I use to manage my inner ear condition, Meniere’s Disease. There is a good chance I will never have a full-blown Meniere’s attack again, but my balance and travel-sickness still have a way to go before I’m ready to come off the medication. But just maybe, by 30
10. Forgive myself – I’m classing this under mental health and it’s SO important. I don’t want to say here exactly what I’m forgiving myself for, but I do have certain things to tick off, and perhaps once I have I’ll be ready to talk about them. Similarly…
11. Love myself – I can’t say I’ll have completely crushed my self criticism, but I want it to be much, much less, so I’m putting down to love myself far more than I currently do
13. Get my fitness past its best point pre-illness – I think a good measure will be if I can comfortably go on a week’s walking holiday with no trouble at all
14. Go abroad at least once every year except 2018 – originally I included 2018, but I really don’t know if I’ll be able to afford it this year so I’m being very cautious. Still, I am itching to get out of the UK. 2013 I went to three countries, 2014 I renewed my passport – and then everything went south and it’s never been used. Places on my list include…
15. Go to the USA
16. Go to Japan
17. Go to Italy (again)
18. Go to the Nordic countries (again) – I think this is the proper term to group Scandinavia + Iceland and Finland, but correct me if I’m wrong
19. Go on a walking holiday – for a long time, I thought that perhaps hauling myself up mountains was not my thing after all, but actually with better planning and preparation I think it could be, again. Not that it would have to be mountain-based. But I like moving through places slowly and in detail, and I like the feeling of accomplishment that follows. And I much prefer exercising outside
20. Be wild swimming regularly in more than just the summer months – I swim in the sea a lot at home, but I’d love to relearn how to do front crawl front crawl and buy a swimming wetsuit and turn this into a proper hobby. Although possibly not in winter
21. Try snorkelling – occasionally in the sea I put my goggles on and look at fish, but I’ve never really properly snorkelled and I’d like to make it a A Thing at least once
22. Try scuba diving – another watery variation. Sensing a theme here?
23. Go to three festivals – confession: I’ve never actually been to a festival. And I don’t know if sleeping in a muddy puddle with a hangover, no toilets and no decent gluten-free options is really going to be for me, but there’s only one way to find out. Plus there are lots of nice day festivals, or ones with fancy yurts if I get rich
24. Go to one concert every year except 2018 – again, I debated about this year but money is sooo tight at the moment, and again this is something I was doing really well at until a couple of years ago. And perhaps it’ll turn out that my ears aren’t up to it anymore. But again, I want to try, and I want to see The Staves and The Oh Hellos and Kate Nash and KT Tunstall again and Florence and the Machine again
25. Read all the books on my Classics list – (pictured at the end) my to-read list has now been compiled into its own entire notebook, and I’m adding and crossing off stuff far too often for it to be one to complete, but I would at least like to have read all these classic books that I feel like I ought to have read. But I’ll probably add to it, and I’ll almost definitely scribble out all the Annes, which I’m getting pretty sick of now
26. Choose a hairstyle and stick to it – perhaps this is silly, to be so preoccupied with my appearance. But the amount of time I spend thinking about my hair is ridiculous, and I think the only way to solve this is to get it how I actually like it.
27. Get all the tattoos that I want – admittedly, I don’t know exactly which tattoos I want. I have one definite idea bubbling about in the back of my mind, along with various locations. But the plan has always been to get mostly everything done by 30 and then I can be free from tattoo parlours, because much as I love tattoos, surely it’s not just me who finds all the appointments and pain and no baths/swimming rather irksome?
And that feels like a slightly abrupt ending but there we have it. Space to add a few more if I think of them, but it seemed silly to push them when there’s more than plenty to be getting on with.