College is simply amazing. Ask anyone. They’ll say that it’s the best 4 years of your life, so make it worth it. But after that, be prepared for reality.
Having the opportunity to graduate early, I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to experience my 4th year, so I made a plan to make up for the experiences I might miss out on.
Thinking about the future & becoming nostalgic about my past:
Do you ever think about the future and become depressed by the fact that you’re only getting older? You wake up one day longing to go back to the easier times. Instead of backyard baseball and swing sets, our playground turns into a cubicle and Google docs. Maybe this sounds dramatic, but it’s exactly how I was feeling...not ready to leave my youth.
So I made a plan to accumulate the most experiences that I could:
In college, we’re not quite established yet, and we still have time to decide. We’re not yet trapped inside an organization climbing a ladder. Instead, we’re on a playground experimenting with everything. It was the thought of graduating that instilled a desire in me to make the most of every moment I had left.
Brainstorming my bucket list:
Aren’t bucket lists supposed to be for people that are dying? Well that’s how I felt -- that upon the graduation ‘ceremony’, I’d actually be chaining myself to debt, reality and routine. They should call it a graduation funeral instead of a ceremony. Anyway, I spent a lot of time brainstorming the experiences I wanted to have before leaving.
When I think back to my college years, what do I want to remember?
A lot of ideas came forth when I started reflecting, but I chose to pursue only the important and exciting ideas...the ones that would be meaningful to look back on with friends 30 years down the road when I’m bored one day in an office. A part of myself felt like I wasn’t rebellious enough, so I used this as an opportunity to be more rebellious.
Creating an actual bucket list to hold me accountable:
Stepping outside my comfort zone initially- sledding with lunch trays:
My friends and I got breakfast at a dining hall, and instead of putting the trays on the conveyor belt like good people, we stole them. We put them inside our backpacks and under our shirts, and carried them to the biggest hill on campus. After spraying the trays with pam (the cooking oil), we went sledding. BEST. TIME. OF. MY. LIFE.
Increasing my risk- throwing a party in an academic building:
Among other things such as getting my first beer tower and exploring the nooks and crannies of campus, I knew that the bigger the risk, the better the memory. So I threw a party in the place I hated the most...FSB 1000 - the room where I took my two worst classes - Accounting and Finance. This party was sort of like a “haha I made it” celebration.
I did what during finals week?
I had all the fixin’s for a party: the surround sound that came fully equipped in the auditorium, the two story room with an awesome balcony, some confetti, balloons, bubbles, and of course, booze. Now I just needed more people other than my 3 friends. So I did what I could for a Wednesday night during finals weekend. I became a bad influence.
The emotions that go on in a college student’s mind their final days:
I disrupted a group of freshman boys who were studying accounting and invited them to party. They were a bit taken back by my request, but nonetheless, were easily excited and intrigued about my bucket list and the odd emotions that go on in a senior's mind during their last week of college.
Ignoring that voice inside my head that my mother programmed in me:
Meredith, are you asinine? I heard that phrase in my head, repeatedly, with the sound of my mother’s voice. But I knew that good things in life sometimes require a bit of risk. So I gave the guys some beer and we played Chainsmokers, popped confetti, talked about life and danced. It was so worth it - being able to make my final marks on that terrible room.
Enlisting others on my journey:
With how much fun I was having, I wanted others to experience the sheer excitement that I had been experiencing with my bucket list. It’s sometimes easy to lose track of time and forget to have fun when immersed in school work, so I made these little adventures a priority, and I wanted to share them with others.
Getting yo’self some fun friends:
I learned something very important - you need fun friends to help you get through life. Whenever I reached out to friends to embark on an adventure, they were either a.) too busy b.) afraid of getting in trouble c.) some other lame excuse. It was as if life conditioned them to be boring adults already and sucked all the fun right out of them.
I texted up some of my friends a few nights before graduation asking if they wanted to join me in burying a time capsule. Several of them came, and those that didn’t wrote letters or gave me some college memorabilia. We met at night, assembled the time capsule, and attempted to bury it deep in the woods. It was so rewarding seeing their excitement.
So what? Who cares what they think of me anyway! I’ll be gone…
It was knowing that I’d be gone in less than 50 days that drove me to increase the risk of my experiences. I knew that whether or not I did something completely embarrassing to myself, it really wouldn’t matter anyway because I’d be gone, and no one would remember.
The final bang:
I wanted to go big or go home. I wanted to end with a bang. So I thought to myself, what’s that story I’m going to tell my kids when I’m older to embarrass them? What’s that thing that’s going to take me so far out of my comfort zone that I might as well become more fearless? Luckily, I had direct access to this fear.
Defying all odds:
It was a Wednesday. It was pouring rain. There was no rock concert. Instead, Sam Hunt and Blake Shelton were playing. And to top it all off, I had a bear costume on to help distinguish me in the crowd. The odds didn’t seem in my favor that night, but I sucked it up, jumped outside the car, calmed my nerves down, and went inside.
When I saw the especially large crowd that night, I was both excited and scared shitless. I pushed my way through to the stage and stood there for 5 minutes debating on this being a failed attempt. I threw out all doubt, envisioned this happening, and got some people to prop me up. I had the ride of my life, and then almost died.
Adopting the ‘so what’ mindset:
I felt like I had a new mindset while completing my college bucket list. Knowing that I’d be checked out in less than 70 days gave me this newfound confidence within myself. I could embarrass myself pretty badly, and it didn’t really matter since I’d be gone. If only we could have this mindset all throughout life...the ‘so what’ vs. ‘what if’.
Something important I learned: Living with your expiration date in mind can propel you to do some amazing things in life.
Maybe we should all live with our expiration date in mind. Because maybe then - when we realize the insignificance of our fears - we’ll have the confidence, the stamina and the courage to chase after what’s really important to us.
To check out my full bucket list, visit my website here.