I am re-reading Gretchen Rubin’s book ‘The Happiness Project’ for the third time cover-to-cover. I am always struck by her artful blend of practical and theoretical wisdom, all the while championing check charts, clean closets, and community. It’s no wonder that I feel we’re similar. Also, like Gretchen, I hate shopping, love YA literature, and take notes for no obvious reason.
Yet another way we’re similar is the wish to have other interests. As she puts it, “Just because something was fun for someone else, didn’t mean it was fun for me… I love the idea of playing chess, going to a lecture on international markets, doing crossword puzzles, getting a pedicure, eating dinner at a hot new restaurant, or having season tickets to the Knicks. (115)” Yet, she ultimately decides that a major Secret of Adulthood is “Be Gretchen,” to “acknowledge to myself what I enjoyed, not what I wish I enjoyed (116).”
Why am I reflecting on this now?
My 30th birthday is in six weeks and I’m trying to neatly package up the 30 by 30 list in (recycled) wrapping paper with a bow on top. If all goes as I hope, I will finish 19 of the items (possibly 22). (Don’t forget I had to discard 2 items after multiple failed attempts) Yet, two of the items are staring me in the face, really simple items. If I cared about them, these would have been knocked these off the list in the first 2 days of the project, and I would have been knocked out from the liquor content.
Learn to make 5 drink recipes by memory.
Learn four new functions on my camera (you know, to complement my full knowledge of how to use the auto function).
Yet, I’m sitting here at night, after my son is in bed with my full cup of… coffee, and adhering the last piece of tape to the box with my busted camera, ready to be sent to New York for repairs.
My list of things I wish I enjoyed: attending rock concerts, going to paint nights, salsa and swing dancing, drinking alcohol, and taking pictures.
I hate admitting I’m totally apathetic about doing these things! I feel strange for saying that, because everyone I know really loves and is passionate about them!
In fact, I have spent years coming up with sophisticated reasons for why I don’t like drinking, or taking pictures, not to mention the other 3. Most people don’t even think about taking pictures, they just do it. I’ve been known to say things like “I’m not that visually oriented.” Yet, I’m as prone as anyone to oversaturate on pinterest and get all geeked up over a good infographic. But, pull out my phone? Remember to bring my d-SLR with me? Yeah, right.
As for alcohol, while I genuinely dislike most beers without fruit in them, I do enjoy a good mixed drink. I did learn how to make a Dark and Stormy, and it’s very similar cousin, the Moscow Mule. However, I quickly lost interest in tasting various rums (another hobby I wish I had) or mastering the Margarita and perfecting a Cosmopolitan. I’d rather just drink coffee. Or seltzer. Or hot chocolate. Even better, I’d rather eat dessert or any sweet food. Weeks can go by, and I don’t drink alcohol, or even think about it.
What additional items on the 30 before 30 list would have reflected a more genuine attempt to “Be Beth?”
My list doesn’t have any reading goals! This absence is like a car with no engine. Reading is a core aspect of who I am, and without adding it, I didn’t get very far, or acknowledge that a lot of my goals assumed I’d be reading. It would be as if Lena Dunham decided to make a 30 by 30 list for herself this year, and yet didn’t set any writing goals.
Creating reading goals seemed like a cop-out, I was going to read whether I put it on the list of not! However, it also ignored what it means to “Be Beth.” This is definitely an example of poor self-knowledge, which is a key part of becoming an adult. Case in point, my progress toward making mixed drinks included buying a book for to learn how to do it.
Lesson learned! In the future, maybe when it comes to making that 5-year family plan, I’ll acknowledge who I really am.
Now… maybe I should just focus on making 5 mocktails from memory?