Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Birthday List



Here's the sad truth: Yesterday, I turned 26.

I am gutted about this, I'm not ready to be in my late twenties, to be the age where I'm supposed to act like I have my head screwed on properly... Then again no one ever really is, at more or less any age - nonetheless, being 26 feels like the line in the sand.

I realise that I'm lucky. Not everyone sees 26. Even in the West, where reaching your 70s is basically taken as a given, the sad fact is that there are people who just won't reach the age that marks the end of adolescence*. Take on board that fact, and the facts that I'm in a happy relationship, doing a job I love, that I'm surrounded by awesome people, and that I have my health - well I should basically stop whingeing and be happy. One big point of the Birthday List is to help me do just that.

The other is to make sure I have a slightly less pointless year than my 25th (which involved a lot of ace stuff, but also involved a lot of me being a bit lazy and generally rubbish).


So here is my Birthday List: 26 things for my 26th year**....


1. Get My Driver's Licence
This was supposed to be my birthday and Xmas present from my Dad for 2012, but as all of his money was sunk into property at the time, it was a nonstarter. Now he's sorted and happy to pay for the lessons when I'm happy to start them (awesome Dad is awesome). A quick googling on the matter suggests that the average number of lessons needed before passing the test is around 40 (at one hour each), so at two a week, that should take around 5-6 months. So should then be accomplishable in a year.


2. Keep a Gratitude Jar
Like keeping a gratitude journal, but a little more visual. The idea being you have a jar and each day you write down something that you're grateful for or that has made you happy that day, pop it in the jar, and then at the end of a year (or when the jar is full), you take an evening to sit and read through them. Which sounds equally cheesy and lovely - so right up my street.


3. Go Abroad
I haven't been abroad for years. Last time was 2009 for Inferno Festival in Oslo, since then I've just been in England (well, bar one day in Wales last year). I don't really mind where I go, just as long as I get to use my passport.


4. Complete the Gala Darling Courses.
Seriously, I've had these sat in my in-tray for the longest time.


5. Fill Two Scrapbooks with Happy Things.
I have boxes full of train/gig/cinema/etc tickets languishing in boxes and on cork boards back home - it would be nice to do something with them.


6. Go To At Least Two Gigs (of bands I actually care about)
I've been crap for gigs this last year. Sadly, living up north means that gig opportunities aren't hugely forthcoming, but I'm aware of at least one that I could go to in the next 12 months, and I will just have to be on the lookout for the second.


7. Try One New Pub/Restaurant Each Month
I live in Sheffield which is great for this sort of thing; I need to start making the most of it.


8. Read 10 Novels Not By Terry Pratchett
I have a slight Discworld addiction, I need to spend a bit of time with some other books before I find myself attempting to leave the round one.


9. Go Rock Climbing
Preferably before the end of 2014 so that I can also mark this off my list of hiking resolutions as well...


10. Go Camping Somewhere Other Than The Lake District
I feel a bit disloyal putting that, but it would be nice to do. Plus I'll probably still end up camping in the Lakes at some point as well anyway.






11. Make a Meal From Scratch Every Month
I can't cook, which at 26 is bloody embarrassing. I need to get on that.


12. Join a Gym
This isn't exactly earth-shattering as resolutions go, but I've very quickly grown bored of the bike and I don't have the time (or indeed money) to go up hills every day. Turns out that the student gym near us is cheap and open to the public. I may have to pop down when I get paid.


13. Do a Wardrobe Clear Out.
Apparently the Gala Darling series on this is quite handy...


14. Lose a Stone.
Enough said.


15. Take on More at Work
Applying for teaching, additional research work, etc. I want to focus as much as I can on my thesis until the summer, but the 2015/16 academic year is my last full one of my PhD, a few months after that I will need to start looking at job-jobs so I need to start taking on more responsibility and padding out my CV. I've already started on this a little this: this morning I put my name down to help out with something we're trying to organise for autumn 2015.


16. Spend a Weekend in London.
I didn't get chance to in 2014, and cutting across London on the way to/from a conference in Southampton doesn't count. It's sad: I love London, I have friends there, I did my BA there; so I'm making a point of going back before I hit the big 2-7.


17. Go Up 10 New Hills
I'm a bit stuck in my ways, I find a hill I like and climb it fairly often... OK that's not entirely true (if you ignore Side Pike and the Mam Tor circuit, anyway) but this has been a painfully quiet year on the hill front (harhar) and I'd like a livelier one next year.


18. Drink More Water (and Less Pop)
And in doing so maybe look slightly more like an adult.


19. Blog Better
That is, update more regularly, learn more about blogging well, and look into academic blogging.



20. Keep a 1-Line-a-Day Journal
Just ordered it this afternoon. I like the idea of seeing my notes from days gone by in the same book I'm working in at the time. I've got a habit of procrastinating by looking at old blog posts, Facebook statuses and tweets, this would be a more meaningful way of nosying at the past while also thinking of the present.


21. Complete the Couch-to-5k Program
Even it I hate it, it'll be a bit of an accomplishment. And if I don't hate it, it will be an ace new way to keep fit.


22. Visit a Different Country in Great Britain
I have lived all my life in England and I have spent a whopping 3 days of my life in Wales. I need to have a nosy at the other places around these isles.


23. Take Sam on a Sushi Date
The man has never tried sushi. This needs to be resolved. Plus I can have loads of miso soup, which I haven't had in far too long.


24. Save at Least £500 in an ISA
I know this isn't exactly exciting, but it makes sense to try to save some money while I have an income. I also try to put a fair bit aside into my savings account, but that's more a piggy bank thing, where I can get monies out if I'm a bit short or where I can put money to one side to save up for things like holidays. The ISA would be something more long term. Again, more "grown up".


25. Make More Time for Friends and Family
This one is a bit open-ended; a resolution rather than a measurable goal, but one that's still very important. For a lot of 2014 I hardly saw anyone. I went around 4 months between seeing some of my closest friends - even longer in some cases. Moving to Sheffield has helped a lot: I'm closer to my loved ones and so I get to see my friends and family far more regularly than before. This resolution is basically an attempt to improve even further on this and - above all - to try to make sure I don't fall back into crappy old habits again.


26. ....
As of yet, this one's blank. I've been racking my brains trying to come up with something but nothing has really come to mind. But a year is a long time, I daresay that something will occur to me.

This is how scared I looked about turning 26... God help me next November...


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*I'm basing this on a talk I saw by someone researching into adolescent trauma, who marked adolescence as being from the ages of 10 to 25.

**These are actually traditionally called something like "26 before 27", but I can't even think about turning that just yet....

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