I turned twenty-five on June 8. It wasn’t a monumental birthday like twenty-one was - or even like eighteen or sixteen were. To be honest, my young soul was a little bit apprehensive to be twenty-five. Many people I know have done incredible things at this age (and younger). I felt a little bit envious and lackluster. One of my biggest fears is living a mediocre life, so I decided two things. 1: I’m going to write about my accomplishments thus far and 2: I’m going to keep writing about them going further.
People all over, and women especially, deal with imposter syndrome. We succeed at really amazing things and then feel like we haven’t earned them or what we’ve done isn’t good enough. I’d like to encourage my readers to take a step back and embrace your accomplishments because you’ve probably done a lot more than you think.
Without further ado, I present a little bit peek into some of the coolest things I’ve done in the past twenty-five years of life.
1. Graduating college
On May 15, 2016, I earned my bachelor’s degree in communication and sociology with a certificate in creative writing. I was the first woman on my mother’s side of the family - if not the first person entirely in her direct line - to earn a bachelor’s degree. I’m also one of a handful of people with degrees on my dad’s side of the family. It’s a pretty big deal for me, so much so that I’m actively looking into going to grad school.
2. Self-publishing two books
I used to joke about publishing a book early on in my college career. I had no idea how feasible it actually was to publish on my own. Although self-publishing became a reality because I had a fear of getting rejected by an actual publisher, it grew into something really meaningful. I wanted total control of my creative baby: the writing, editing, design, marketing, etc. My first book, Sentience, really sparked something in me. Then Garden became my entire heart and soul. I haven’t struck gold or major success this way, but self-publishing has given me the confidence and experience to go further.
3. Committing to my 1st long-term relationship
I met Anthony at a bowling alley during our co-ed fraternity’s recruiting season in September 2013. He was dating someone else at the time, but I had that cliche feeling that something would happen between us eventually. I didn’t think about that feeling for six months- I’d decided to wait to pledge APX in the spring instead. When I actually started having conversations with the recently-single Anthony, things changed. I was tired of inconsistent boys and ready for something real, so I hatched a master plan to make him fall in love with me. A little over a year after we first met, we made our “mutually exclusive and serious thing” official. We’re almost five years deep into our relationship and I’ve never been happier.
4. Moving out of my parents’ home
I had to do it sometime. At twenty-four, I became financially stable enough to live on my own (well, live on my own with a boy). I saved and saved and spent some money on a car (more on that later) and saved and then was ready to fly the nest. I’m close with my family, but I had no idea how much I’d miss them when I moved. The first few weeks were a crazy rollercoaster of emotions- from being ecstatic to live with Anthony to crying about missing my dogs. Nostalgia aside, it’s both relieving and terrifying to know I’m financially independent. Yay adulting!
5. Having an adult relationship with my mom & dad
When I moved away from Texas at 11 years old, I was really distraught because I was leaving my dad behind. I lived with my mom and grew very close to her over the years (save for some nasty teenage fights). It was hard to figure out just what kind of relationship I had with my dad at first, I’d get annoyed when he’d call us at least once a day and felt so helpless when he went through a difficult time. I am happy to say that I enjoy my relationship with my parents these days and most of the time I’m annoying them with all my phone calls and questions about adult life.
6. Maintaining closeness to my sisters
We bicker and go through serious disagreements sometimes, but I love my relationship with my sisters. We’re always so silly and fun-spirited when we’re together. I worried that we might lose some of that closeness when I moved out (I’m the oldest), but it seems our bond is now stronger than ever. Plus, I try to always set a good example for them in any capacity of my life, especially when it comes to baby-of-the-family Joely, who will be TEN YEARS OLD in August. It’s bittersweet to see them all grow up but it’s also exciting because now I can talk to them like actual people.
7. Becoming a pet parent
Let me say this: I love animals. My parents’ Saint Bernards, sad kitties at the animal shelter, horses at the therapeutic riding center where my mom volunteers, otters at the zoo- I want them all. But let me tell you something, I never expected to own a reptile. I grew up wincing at all things slithery, so when Anthony suggested we get a leopard gecko, I was a little hesitant. I still let him do most of the cricket feeding (I’m just as jumpy about them as they are about, well, their entire existence), but I really, really love my little Mango.
8. Becoming a plant mom
Once, my best friend, Eliana, gave me a cactus. I swiftly over-watered it due to my newbie fear of under-watering. The poor thing didn’t last a month. I thought my plant parent adventures were over. But then a couple of years ago, I got Lula Moo, a jade succulent. Then I got a Haworthia, then a philodendron, then a ZZ plant, then many others, and somehow I accumulated sixteen plants. I am happy to report they’re all thriving and so am I. Anthony and I will soon be living in a jungle if I get my way! (I will!)
9. Becoming an organ donor
So this one’s a little morbid, but I wholeheartedly believe in organ donation. The idea used to freak me out - being cut open? Ugh. Even though I’d be totally unaware and literally dead, I was definitely not about to check that little box on the back of my driver’s license. The public relations class I took my junior year in college changed my mind. A lot of people believe in myths about organ donation (I was one of them) and I’m here to bust them for you now. Will I be resuscitated if they see I’m a donor? Yes, they absolutely will! Can I be buried in my church’s cemetery if I’m a donor? Most likely, yes- most major religions have no explicit rules banning organ donation. Will they donate my body to science, even though I don’t want them to? Nope, you have to specifically select this option if that’s what you want to do. I highly encourage all of you to read more here and consider becoming a donor if you’re not already!
10. Traveling my own way
I’ve been fortunate enough to go on many trips with my family (and Anthony’s). But I’m finally old enough and (kind of) stable enough to travel where and how I want to. So far I’ve only been on about three or four trips with my own money, but I have plans to hit so many new countries and regions in the future. The world is an exciting place!
11. Expanding my library
Anthony and I worried that we wouldn’t have enough room for all of our combined books when we moved in together. Luckily, we found two relatively cheap yet well-made bookshelves (on top of the one he already owned). We’ve since filled them to the brim. I have no idea what we’re going to do when we inevitably get more books, but I’m so proud to call myself a well-read woman.
12. Getting involved in philanthropy
When I embarked on my trip to Tanzania, I promised myself something: I would be a lifelong supporter of girls education initiatives. My classmates and I raised over $1,500 for the trip, which we used to buy school supplies and feminine hygiene products, then donated the rest to the tuition for a girl we met who couldn’t afford school. The American education system is by no means perfect, but we often take for granted the opportunities we get in this country. Plus, many low-income countries often prioritize young marriage over long term education. I hope to continue raising awareness so that girls all over the world can go to school and make a difference.
13. Becoming a mentor to high school interns
My company employs high school interns every year. Our department was lucky to have three and they were an enormous help every week. I was so impressed with their work ethics and their presentation at the end of the year proved that they’ll go far in life. One of them even bought me a journal & candle because she remembered how much I like to write. My heart!! I’m happy I was able to help them learn in some way, even if it was just basic ins and outs of social media.
14. Improving my cooking skills
I can now just create delicious meals without having to look up any recipes. Granted, most of the time I like to use recipes because I like to try new things, but I’ve pretty much got cooking down pat. Chicken with quinoa and veggies? You got it. Lemony shrimp and garlic zoodles? Dinner is served. Chili con queso? Si. La Cocina de Julia is reservations only. 20% gratuity included.
15. Ability to hold a basic conversation in Spanish
My dad’s side of the family is Mexican and Spanish. I’m proud to be a Hispanic woman, but I grew up in a mostly whitewashed setting. My dad taught my sister, Camryn, and I how to count in Spanish and how to say gato (cat) and perro (dog) and things of the like, but we really didn’t learn the language as kids. That said, I took Spanish from 7th - 12th grade and even took the AP exam at the end of it all. I wasn’t great then and I’m not where I’d like to be now, but I’m happy I can have a basic convo in Spanish. Donde esta el baño? Yo necesito ir, pronto! Y tengo hambre. Tienes jamón y huevos? Vamos al club - no quiero dormir, quiero bailar!
16. Financing a car on my own
I am still so in love with my little Rosita - a 2015 red Mini Cooper. She’s zippy and decked out in all the coolest features (butt warmers are a godsend). We’ve bonded over a not-my-fault fender-bender just 24 days (UGH) into our relationship, then two stupidly-my-fault scrapes (one was fixed, one is still there), and many miles driven. I can’t wait to pay her off in five years! Hopefully sooner, but who knows. That’s an accomplishment for another time.
17. Learning basic watercolor
Last year for my birthday, my office gifted me a watercolor set. I’m no Picasso or Monet, but I’ve got a nice little relationship with the paintbrush. My great grandmother was an incredibly skilled painter and my sister, Camryn, is one of the most talented artists I know (painting and otherwise), so it runs in the family. Watercolor really relaxes me, and I love how playful the medium is.
18. Dancing abilities
Let me humble myself for a moment. I’m by no means a great dancer, not even a really good dancer. But I can keep up with the music with zeal, touting my moves in a dramatic fashion. My skills led me to teach a hip-hop class in college and an intro to dance class for toddlers last year. I owe a lot to dance: for giving me confidence and the ability to express myself! And, not for nothing, I am always fantasizing about a dance battle with (nonexistent) adversaries.
19. Performing in theatrical settings
High school was good to me in this way. Not only did I dance, but I also got to perform in three out of our four spring musicals and two of our poetry & music-filled Rhythm and Rhyme shows. Our senior year, Eliana and I got to open our last R&R show. We performed a rendition of Four Chords- a mashup of popular songs using the same four chords. We combined Taylor Swift, OneRepublic, and other top hits. It was really cute!
20. Learning the basics of graphic design
My first post-grad internship taught me the very basics of Adobe Suite, but my true design BFF is Canva. It’s basically a graphic design tool for dummies. Of course, if you want any of your pieces to look good, you need to have an eye for design. But Canva is very easy to use, with its hundreds of layouts and presets that are customizable! I designed both of my book covers, my resume, and plenty of social media posts on there since discovering it in 2015.
21. Creating a website/portfolio
One of the more daunting tasks I’ve done is create my own website. I use Wix. They have hundreds of templates that allow complete customization so I can set it up in whichever way is most convenient for my career’s needs. I’m on the third iteration of my site Out Write Crazy, and I’m constantly imagining how I will redesign it a fourth time. Above all, I’m just happy that I finally have a well-organized place to showcase my work.
22. Becoming more self-aware
I’ve always been pretty in tune with my emotions, but I’ve grown quite a lot in the past twenty-five years. I’m more empathetic and realistic and definitely more honest with myself in tough situations. I think this really is evident in my poetry - especially when comparing the Sentience era to the Garden era. Amazing things can happen when you’re consistently true to yourself!
23. Taking a political stance
I voted for the first time in 2012. Not many of my friends really cared about what was going on- we were fresh out of high school and only the really conscientious students were knee-deep in politics. I voted for Obama because he promised equal rights for everyone in the country and that seemed like the utmost priority. Since then, my views have been tested, especially when the majority of my family members believe in the exact opposite things. Fortunately, I’m very comfortable with speaking my mind and expressing my beliefs on topics like gun laws, LGBTQ+ rights, female bodily autonomy and pay gaps, etc. I am a proud feminist and I will always champion for others.
24. Getting better at stress management
I was plagued by the most awful migraine headaches from third grade until high school. I could feel a migraine start to emerge because of the aura, which is basically equivalent to the flash after someone takes your picture or if there was a tear in the universe and television static was on the other end. I’d soon after feel nauseous, get a fever, throw up (yes, every time), and be out of commission for the rest of the day. It was horrible. The first time I ever had one, I remember walking down the hallway so confused trying to find the nurse’s office. I felt so, so unwell. A few months later, we got to do a cat scan of my brain to make sure everything was okay and they gave me an emergency shot I could stab in my leg if I felt a migraine coming on. Luckily, the migraines virtually stopped around 2011. I like to say I defeated those god forsaken headaches. In actuality, I probably just grew out of them.
25. Committing my life to my writing
A couple years ago, I introduced myself as a writer at one of Anthony’s shows. When the guy I was conversing with asked where I worked, I told him, “oh, well, I’m actually in marketing, but I recently self-published a book of poetry!” The guy seemed less impressed. I hated having to clarify that no, I was not doing what I loved full-time, I was merely doing it on the side and (for all intents and purposes) unsuccessfully. Now (as in right now) I’ve made it a point to make writing a priority. I’ve started writing at least two news poems and one to two reflection essays/lifestyle blogs per month. I even started to take on more writing tasks at my marketing job, so that’s something, too! This is an ongoing commitment, so know that this isn’t the last you’ll hear of me and my writing career!!
If you made it all the way to the end, thank you - I know I have a lot to say. If you like what you read, stay tuned for my 25 Bucket List Goals blog!