Tooting My Own Horn

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I’ve never been good at choices. Even with seemingly simple things, if I think too hard or have too many options, my completely freeze up. Back in college picking a table to sit at in the dining hall was always a dilemma and drove my friends nuts. (There were just a lot of people I liked to have meals with, okay???? If my usual group of friends weren’t eating at the same time I was, it made picking a table very difficult.) Even now, when one of my friends and I try to decide on where to hang out after church we both slightly panic and then usually end up going to one of the same places we always go simply because it’s easier than making any other choice.

I’m always in that classic dilemma of “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?”

Needless to say, if I can’t even make a decision on where to eat or hang out on a certain day, when presented with bigger questions such as “what do you want to do in your life” or “where do you see yourself in 5 years” leave me completely overwhelmed.

I’m sorry, but how do I know that what I want now will be the same thing I want in 5 years? Just look at my career history for example. All through college I knew for sure that I wanted to be a youth minster. I did that for 5 1/2 years… for at least 2 of those years I was wondering if that was what I really wanted and ended up leaving that career path.

I’ve never been one for bucket lists and writing down my goals.

Yet lately, I’ve been wondering if it’s something I should be doing. One of my favorite bloggers, Helene In Between, on her blog the last few weeks has been talking a lot about getting what you want in life, making bucket lists, and reaching your goals. Then, this week I picked up the book Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis.* They’re both basically saying, if you want something, then find a way to get it.

As much as I avoid making choices and setting five year plans and all of that, I still have to admit there are things I want in life. Things I want to accomplish and goals to achieve. So, making that list for myself is a project I’m working on for myself. The goals might change over time, and that’s okay. But there is merit to writing them down because they become more tangible. Something that “yes, I am going to do this.” Whether I share this list or not, who knows. But it’s a start.

In this vein, Helene wrote a blog post about her bucket list and what she’s done and what she still hopes to do in life. I’ll admit, I tend to get a bit jealous as I read her blog and browse her Instagram account. If you don’t follow her - you should, but be prepared for major travel envy. She and her husband live in Germany and she’s a full time travel blogger. So many times I think “why can’t my life be like that?”

Then, something interesting happened. I read through her bucket list and some of the things she hopes to do one day and more than once I thought “Oh, I’ve done that.”

Yup. Little me who lives a completely boring life, works an hourly job, lives with her parents, who is perpetually single, doesn’t have kids, and doesn’t travel often, has done several items on Helene’s bucket list that she hasn’t gotten to yet.

Say whaaaaaaa?

It was kind of a cool feeling. (Not that we should be comparing our lives to others, and maybe this seems super shallow and selfish of me, but I was kind of excited. Sue me.)

It made me think back on the last 32 years a little differently.

Then, as I was reading Girl, Wash Your Face, one of the things she suggested the reader do is to write down the things they’ve accomplished. (She’s also mentioned writing down your goals.) We as women I think have a hard time with this. We don’t want to brag or seem to full of ourselves. But, we should celebrate and acknowledge these things. Even if they seem small.

So…. I sat down this morning and started a list of all of the things I’ve done so far in my life. Yes, I started with the things on Helene’s bucket list that I’ve done because I’m shallow like that.

To be honest, once I got going, this list was much easier to make than the one of what I hope to accomplish. Which was kind of awesome.

Here it is. I am tooting my own horn and saying “LOOK AT WHAT I DID.” We all have gifts, opportunities, and talents we’ve been given, and we need to use them. We can celebrate what we’ve done with our lives, even if it seems simple.

  • Written 2 novels in 5 years (both were over 100k words)

  • Queried one novel

  • Won NaNoWriMo 9 times

  • Sung in Pearl Harbor, the first Christian church in Hawaii, and on TV (thanks to my high school choir director)

  • Performed in Disney World, Toronto, Michigan State University, state competitions, and local band competitions (thanks to my high school band director)

  • Performed in 5+ local theatre productions

  • Been paid to play/teach music

  • Built a youth program

  • Became a godmother

  • Rescued an animal

  • Read over 100 books in a year

  • Seen a show on Broadway

  • Met Broadway stars Samantha Barks, Steve Kazee, and Tony Baracco

  • Met the following authors: VE Schwab, Becky Albertalli, Laini Taylor, Jay Kristoff, Amie Kauffman, Keira Cass, Leonard Sweet (we shared a golf cart at a conference once), and Stephanie Perkins

  • Seen John and Hank Green live

  • Seen Blake Mycoskie (the founder of Toms) speak live

  • Met cast members of Gilmore Girls and This is Us

  • Watched the sun rise on a mountain in the Appalachians

  • Graduated college (this is a privilege I think too many of us take for granted)

  • Seen Hamilton (I’ve seen several musicals, but considering how these tickets even here in Chicago can be super hard to get, I’m proud of this fact)

  • Gone 8 years without a major injury (for someone with my bone condition, this is a BIG deal)

  • Been on several service and missions trips

  • Learned to play 5 instruments (one self taught)

  • Traveled/Lived in the following states:

    • Illinois

    • Indiana

    • Missouri

    • California

    • Hawaii

    • New York

    • Alabama (Including going to Selma and seeing the inspiration for To Kill a Mockingbird and other important places relating to the civil rights movement)

    • Iowa

    • Louisiana

    • Florida (gone to Disney, The Magical World of Harry Potter, and Panama City Beach multiple times)

    • Minnesota

    • Michigan

    • South Carolina

    • Virginia

    • Ohio

    • Kentucky

There you have it, things I’ve accomplished in my life. Honestly, I think it’s a good list. Granted, we shouldn’t judge ourselves and our worth based on what we’ve checked off of a list or if our lists are longer than others, or anything like that. But, I do think that it’s a nice little confidence booster.

Because guess what? You’re awesome. You can, and have, do things! Awesome things! Even if they seem small.

I encourage you to make a list too. Even if there are only a few items on the list, but I think as you get going, you’ll surprise yourself. I know I did.

Because if I can accomplish all of this, then I can accomplish other things too, and so can you.

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