It still seems so odd to say that and I’m already a couple weeks into the “year.” In fact, I was asked the other day how old I was and much like writing the wrong year on a card in the month of February, I said I was 33.
Wrong, I’m 34. God, that seems so freaking old to me!
For the last two weeks, my mind has raced about the number 34 and it’s relevance to my age. I immediately started thinking about how much closer I was to being 35, which is only five years away from 40, which hopefully isn’t the halfway point for my life, but it very well could be. Which meant I was that much closer to seeing my birthday in the paper because I was turning 50 and then a couple years later I’d be seeing my son walk across the stage to get his college diploma at age 55.
Holy shit, what the hell have I done with my life?
I wish I could say I lost sleep over this, but I didn’t. Instead my mind analyzed everything I had accomplished in my life like an ox dragging a plow, slowly and methodically. The thought process would turn off at night but the minute I opened my eyes in the morning, it would begin in an instant as if nothing stopped. Two weeks in, I was tired of thinking and just wanted to shoot the imaginary ox.
I suppose it wasn’t a bad thing I had so much time on my hands. In fact, I should really be thanking limited cell phone minute plans for the time to be engulfed in my own world. If it wasn’t for Verizon’s limit, I would have spent all my time talking to my girlfriend and talking about my day for hours. That’s a very good thing and I love talking to her, but I would have never reflected on my life.
(If you’re reading this babe, I love you THIS MUCH! I love our time together on the phone!)
Instead, I sat and thought about life while I waited patiently by my phone until my girlfriend could get home and call. Yes, she had to wait to talk to me until she got home and could call. It’s a wild idea given the proliferation of cell phones but it was almost like being in high school again. No cell minutes equals home phone calls.
When she did call, I’d snap out of my thoughts at the sound of my ringtone and answer the phone excitedly. Talking to her was the only real break I had from my brain. Well, it was that and chasing after my three-year-old son on the weekends, which also was a welcome distraction.
By the end of two weeks, I had come to a conclusion about the previous 33 years of my life; I had actually accomplished quite a bit but somewhere in the last two years, I lost my way. For so long, I dictated my life by the goals I had set and for the most part, I accomplished them and set a new goal. I was constantly reaching for something new and it kept my mind working and my heart full of energy; my soul was full of life and people around me could tell I was happy.
Everything leading up to and including high school was about getting into my dream school, Notre Dame, and I did that. Once there, my focus was on graduating with a degree. I graduated but there were some bumps in the road, mainly called having too much fun and losing focus for a bit.
After getting my life in order and graduating, I wanted to get a job. Actually, this was more based on need than want thanks to the debt associated with going to Notre Dame. (Thanks stupid student loans.) I finally found a job after months of unemployment and I marked off another check box.
Then I got bored with just a job and I wanted a master’s degree so I went back to school part time. While not as terribly challenging as Notre Dame, it was something to strive for. There was a goal dangling in front of my face like a carrot to a horse. I was content.
Okay, let’s be honest, I wasn’t content. I needed something else to fuel the fire and that came as a gift when my friend Eric called me up with the idea of restarting ND alumni club in town. As soon as we started working, I knew I wanted to resurrect the club like the Phoenix from the ashes. The club won “Outstanding Club of the Year” six years later and I was honored as an “Outstanding Young Alumni”.
Check with a side of ice cream next to the cake.
Apparently a master’s degree wasn’t enough because I decided I wanted a doctorate to keep up with my mom and step-dad, both have several degrees and a pair of Ed.D’s between them. Oh and because I actually liked the field of education and was intrigued by it. I graduated in 2011.
You can call me Dr. Chris, thank you very much!
Somewhere along the line, I wanted to fall in love with someone and start a family. I met that someone, we had a son and he is my greatest accomplishment to date. I can say without equivocation, there isn’t a moment I don’t enjoy being with him, teaching him and being a role model for him. He is simply amazing.
I’d like to say this was “done” and I could check this off my list, but I can’t. After five years, I am divorced and I see my son on the court-defined visitation days. It sucks and to say the last two years have been a blur is an understatement.
Looking back, it was at this point in time that I realized I never reset my goals or challenged myself again. Yes, I wanted to be a good husband and father, which was always a goal. I graduated for the third time, my son was born and I thought life was grand when it really wasn’t. I began to coast and I was very unhappy. I paid for it with my self-confidence, with my desire to enjoy life and it cost me my marriage. It was a mistake to say the least.
So what does this analysis mean? I need new challenges and goals because if I’m going to turn 35 in a year, I need to know I have a list of things that I want to do before 35 becomes 40 and I’m more than halfway done with my life, which becomes the newspaper ad saying “Nifty 50” and then 55 when my son finishes college. I can’t just coast through life. I’m not happy just coasting.
That’s where this site comes in. I put together a list of things that I want to do before I turn 35 and I have to admit I stole the concept from my college roommate and author, Ted Fox. He started a list about a year ago and called it the #33Project. He has been writing about everything in the past year on his website tedfoxisawesome.com and it’s been quite a ride following along vicariously. I figured if he could do it, why couldn’t I. Seriously, it’s a list of things to do that a monkey could come up with. What’s so hard about putting a list together, right?
Truth be told, it’s not about creating the list, or the list at all. It’s about me being happy again and pushing myself to new challenges and new experiences.
One of the goals is documenting the experience of working through the list and hopefully I’ll do a good job documenting all of this and you’ll follow along.
Let the fun begin!