Hello there, 29.
I can't believe we're making eye contact in the form of birthday candles on a cake that my metabolism has grown lazy to digest. I'm mad at myself, mostly because with every year of climbing through my twenties, I felt like I lost my spark.
I used to be fearless, walking through life, hooking onto adventures and taking risks. But then, I entered the “real world" and things — for lack of a better word — got “real."
I had to pay bills, impress my boss for a raise (so I can actually pay my bills) and fight through endless dating apps to find someone I was interested in settling down with, without having to settle.
Since I feel like I'm 365 days away from entering my thirties as the most boring version of myself (see photos on Instagram of me Netflix and chilling, alone), I've decided to create a self-improvement bucket list for my final year as 20-something.
1. Find a way to make passive income.
I've read about so many digital entrepreneurs who make money when they speak, offering training courses or virtual classes that people can get on-demand. Imagine getting paid while you're sleeping or traveling to exotic countries.
Everyone has a skill they are really good at, whether it's something they majored in back in college or a trick they learned on the job, that can be passed along to others. I'd love to create a series of online courses people can buy, teaching them skills I've painfully mastered.
This is all in an attempt to stop overworking myself, like most of us have done in our twenties in order to pay our own bills (I'm talking about you, credit cards and health insurance) and live somewhere other than on an air mattress in our parent's house.
2. Travel solo.
The idea of packing my bags and heading to the airport, with no place in mind, has always been a dream of mine. Even more, I want to do this adventure alone.
Solo travel seems scary, and it's always been something I've hesitated to do because I'm terrible with directions and sometimes need a more organized person by my side, who will guide me toward local activities and eats.
I'd love to plan a trip somewhere far away by myself. See what I want to see. Do what I want to do. Most importantly, eat as much pizza as I want without someone looking me in the face and telling me I need to incorporate more veggies into my diet.
Besides, isn't tomato sauce technically a veggie?
3. Start a savings account.
To all those 20-somethings who have a savings account, 401k, investments or other retirement funds, I salute you because I am approaching 30 with none of the above.
I blew my savings account on five years of New York City rent, food and clothes. When I show my accountant my financial standings, she always tells me that I need to stop buying crop tops from Forever 21 and start putting money in a "Do Not Touch" fund every month.
Instead of rolling my eyes at her, I hope to start hoarding parts of my paycheck and dividing it up into retirement, investment and a rainy day fund (that I'll probably end up using online shopping on a snow day).
4. Be a better girlfriend.
Relationships are hard. Even when you're with the right person, it can be tricky to learn things like compromise, patience and how to merge your life with someone else's, when your own life feels super complicated.
I've been dating my boyfriend for over a year, making it officially the longest relationship I've ever been in. I've had a handful of dramatic, freakout moments, times when I didn't share, acted like a kindergartener and, of course, when I let PMS make me into a monster.
This year, I want to improve on how I treat the person I love and make sure I'm doing a better job of being less selfish, because "always the bridesmaid" and the "single one" can make you stuck in your ways.
5. Eat less carbs.
It would be nice to start a new era of my life with better eating habits. Right now, my diet consists of carbs, carbs, an occasional veggie and carbs. I can get away with it now, but when I'm in my thirties, that will fade, and I'll have to be smarter about the food I consume.
I know I don't have the willpower to do this on my own, so I plan to spend the next year educating myself on what I should eat more, and then, try to incorporate those rules into my day-to-day life (sorry pizza).
6. Take more risks.
Saying yes to more things is the way I want to end my twenties.
I started off being like that at age 20, 21, 22... but then, things got real. I had to leave college and get a job. That job came with restrictions, like not being allowed to sleep in and miss work on Mondays for being hungover. That job also came with limited vacation days.
All of those things and more made me into a boring person who enjoyed being in bed by 8 pm.
I want to spend year 29 living like I did at year 21 (with less cheap shots of vodka, of course). My list of risks include: traveling somewhere, internationally, alone; ditching my apartment lease and living in Airbnbs around the country; and emailing people I don't think would ever meet me for coffee and asking if they would – because why not?
Year 29, to me, feels like one more shot to make life messy before it's time to find a pair of grown up pants and start acting like an adult.
Perhaps it's also a year where I spend my free time on personal development, learning things I wish I learned in school (like how to do my own taxes or even how to go to a networking event and not hide in the corner).
Either way, it's a new age and I'm ready to take on my almost thirty bucket list.