- Went up the Eiffel tower – check
- Spoke at the Sydney Opera House in front of Australia’s young leaders – check
- Traveled (almost) around the world without spending – check
- Met with world leaders and awesome people – check
- Ate Desmond Tutu’s birthday cake (yup) – check
- Married the man of my dreams and prayers – check
My life looks like a ticked off bucket list. BUT.
I could think of so many more things that I have done before reaching the age of 30 (and one of my favorites is marrying the man of my dreams & prayers!).
The truth is, life is not comprised of just trophies, certificates, countries, courses, adventures, and awards. It is also full of moments of anxiety, self-doubt, failure, and missteps. In fact, the things that really build character are the hard things, not the ones that make you giddy inside.
So whenever younger people ask me about all my achievements (and by “achievements”, some usually refer to the awards, media exposure, etc.) and ask how they could achieve them too, I always feel uncomfortable.
One, because I don’t think the awards, media exposure, or number of passports (or stamps on them) are the goals. The goals should be bigger, inclusive, and based on faith and hope for a better future for everyone. If the awards themselves become the end goals, that would be dangerous and misguided – and such a waste of time and talent. And trust me, they are not good enough as anchors. They crumble when things get tough.
And two, I don’t think that my life is a success story already told and that it could be measured based on media mileage or awards. Those are not the real achievements (they are great pats on the back though and are definitely appreciated). Behind all the glitz and glamour, I consider my real achievements to be the moments of survival, belief, hope, faith, and love in spite and despite of all the anxiety, self-doubt, failure, and missteps.
So instead of creating just a bucket list of things-to-do and places-to-go (I also have those!), I also wrote another that is more meaningful and will remind me of the more important things in life. Hopefully, for those who feel in a hurry to “achieve” and measure their achievements though external rewards, this list could help you build your own bucket list that matters:
- Tell the people you love that you love them, all the time. It may be awkward at first for some people, but you’ll remember these moments the most (my status: YES! all the time!)
- Tell your biggest failure story and share its lessons (my status: soon!)
- Forgive the people you blame for some difficult times in your life (my status: getting there!)
- Lose an award, nomination, or something that you really want, with grace and genuine happiness for others (my status: after lots of tries, finally there!)
- Listen to constructive personal feedback without being defensive or listening only to respond (my status: still practicing, but getting better)
- And finally (but really, the list goes on), find a community that you could love and stick to – it could be a church group, organization, cooperative, artist hub, group of like-minded people, etc. and constantly think of ways to provide value to them. Serving others is one of the best ways to find your calling and passion.
When you measure your life and achievements through more meaningful metrics, all the awards, media exposure, travels, and other things that may come your way (and they will come because the world needs and loves people with passion and purpose), will be nice-to-have. But you’ll find that nothing beats the moments of survival, belief, hope, faith, and love in spite and despite of all the anxiety, self-doubt, failure, and missteps.