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All Before Turning 30

Angela Kim

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(Katina Corrao)
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(Jen MacNeil)

Jen MacNeil: I had a list of things that I decided in my early 20s that I wanted to have accomplished by the time I was 30, and that included getting a masters' degree, moving to New York, falling in love and starting a career in journalism. And I did all that by the time I was 28. And when I started thinking about things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30, I thought why do they all have to be big things? Why do I have to go to Europe or go skydiving, or these big things? It could just be small things that maybe other people have done on a regular basis but that I have never experienced before. So it has to be something that I've never done.

Desiree Cooper: I've noticed that there are some things that you've done that kind of fall into the category of "reclaiming childhood": dying your foot purple, playing jacks, wearing a lampshade to a party where no one was drunk including yourself. What's that about?

How many people have things that they wanted to do when they were children, but never got to do, either because they weren't able to or weren't allowed to, or it was just out of the question? So a lot of these were just things that I wanted to do when I was a kid. Like on the one-hundredth day of doing this, I celebrated by eating junk food for an entire day. Literally, I had jelly beans for breakfast.

When you actually reach back to childhood and do some things as you're approaching 30, what perspective do those activities bring to your life?

I sort of tried to imagine how I would have felt accomplishing those things as if I were eight years old. One thing I did was roll myself up in a rug. I don't know why I thought that was a good idea as a child. It was fun--it was like one of those weird, silly things where when I was done, I was like, "great, now I did that, moving on." Whereas if I were a child, I would have tried to do it every day if I thought it were so great.

Even if it's stuff that's not particularly devious, there's just that rush of adventure. When you're a kid, maybe you're more afraid to try things, or it's just not possible. So to have not only the physical ability, but the wherewithal, and a better understanding of how to do something as an adult--combined with that sort of latent rush that I would have gotten when I was five--that's kind of an awesome combination.

If you had not chosen to do this consciously, is it something that unconsciously every person can like sit down at 10:30 or 11:00 at night, every person could sit down and think, "You know what I did today? I actually put peppers on my tuna sandwich. And I didn't think about that, but that was a new thing!"?

With the course of this project, in that context, there have been days when maybe I didn't consciously go out of my way to do something new, but I realize at the end of the day that "Oh, I took a walk with my neighbor today, and I'd never even met her before." So things like that have ended up in the blog, but there are just certain things that I wanted to seek out and do.

Why start this at 29 and end it at 30? It seems like there would be a temptation to, when you're turning that milestone at 30, to counter-balance that by saying, "You know what, no, I'm going to do something new, I'm going to grab life starting at 30."

I've always thought of 29 as sort of the jumping-off point, whereas I've thought of 30 as a destination or a place to arrive at. I think of it sort of like graduating high school, where maybe people are depressed and sad about finishing high school, even though they know that they're going on to something even bigger and better. So it was more like I was celebrating the end of my 20s, and then I can go into my 30s and be like, "look at everything I've accomplished."

Jen, thank you, and good luck with the rest of your list.

Thank you so much. Happy New Year!


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