36 Things I’ve Done by 37

When I turned 30, I reminisced about the 29 things I’d learned as I left 29 in the rearview. This time, I’m looking back at the 36 most important things I’ve done now that I’m 37. (Why 37? No reason other than this is the year I feel old and like I’ve actually done stuff.)

They won’t all be for everyone, but these have been my most impactful actions.

  1. Learned a foreign language. So important.
  2. Had a summer job. This is one of those invaluable life experience things. While I may have been fortunate enough to not need the money, I am forever grateful to my parents for making summer jobs a requirement. Responsibility, work ethic, sense of accomplishment…it’s all there. Also, I’m thankful that my first summer jobs put me in new and diverse environments. For a private school teenager to suddenly spend every day as one of the only employees not receiving government assistance, I learned a lot about the way the world works.
  3. Went to The University of Georgia. I had a truly phenomenal college experience. True, a big football school and Greek life isn’t for everyone, but it was perfect for me. Most importantly, it was far but not too far. A 4-hour drive from my hometown gave me plenty of distance to spread my wings but was close enough to feel safe. It was critical that I could easily get home for an emergency but couldn’t use my parents as a crutch or to do laundry every weekend. And it was free. Having seen friends struggle with student loan debt while I feel untethered, I see value in choosing a school that won’t break the bank. I have plenty of friends who went to private schools that didn’t really get them a leg up in the job market but they’ve been paying off that education for a decade.
  4. Studied abroad. I learned respect for other cultures, discovered my travel style, found a best friend, and earned the independence that helped me do #5 on this list.
  5. Moved to a new city. With my entire family based in Savannah, I pushed the limits of my comfort zone when I moved to New York City, and I think I’m better for it.
  6. Invested in a Planetbox and established routines. It may be the most expensive lunchbox, but it pays for itself after a few uses and revolutionized my spending and eating habits. It’s the little things like this that helped me find a routine, which has, in turn, helped manage anxiety.
  7. Started a blog. This has been the most amazing outlet. Yes, even if nobody reads it.
  8. Started exercising. With a fast metabolism, I never really needed to exercise in order to stay thin. When my metabolism slowed at around 27, I was forced to start working out and at around 30 started exercising regularly. Whenever I leave a group fitness or Peloton class, I feel invigorated. Endorphins are real.
  9. Bought an apartment. Owning a home made me feel stable and whole. It gave me a sense of permanency, accomplishment, and pride. It’s not easy to do (especially in this market), but if you can arrange your finances to make this happen for yourself, I highly recommend it.
  10. Read a lot. I don’t have a record of every book I’ve read, but I started tracking them a few years ago. Reading has always been an important escape for me, and I like being able to say I do something with my free time that’s not just watching tv (which I also do a lot of).
  11. Got tattooed. I love having something I care about so much that I want a permanent reminder on my body.
  12. Traveled the world. I’ve always enjoyed travel, but most of my trips had been as part of a large group trip (less “real”) or with my family, where we are extra attuned to each others’ rhythms. It’s an entirely different experience when you travel with a small group of friends, a significant other, or alone. I can now say I’ve done that several times over, and I learned patience as well as a much deeper understanding of other cultures (by being in a position to integrate myself into a place’s local customs). In case you’re wondering, here’s a list of all the places I’ve been. In some cases, I barely scratched the surface and would love to revisit.
    • United States (Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Colorado, Utah, Kansas, Alabama, North Carolina, Indiana, Illinois, Nevada, New York, New Hampshire, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington DC, Virginia)
    • Canada
    • St. Maartin/St. Thomas
    • Bahamas
    • Belize
    • Aruba
    • Puerto Rico
    • Dominican Republic
    • France
    • Monaco
    • Spain
    • Israel
    • Curaçao
    • Cuba
    • Italy
    • England
    • Greece
  13. Wrote a lot. In addition to the cathartic exercise that is this blog, I decided to start writing a book. It’s been really nice to have a[nother] creative outlet.
  14. Marketed myself. After a ton of rejected job applications for marketing jobs, I decided to get serious about marketing myself. I ordered business cards that made a statement and created a professional website that showcased my work. It was a good exercise to examine my successes and reminded me that nobody should just sit back and wait for opportunity to find them; sometimes you have to make it for yourself.
  15. Developed a hobby and mastered a classic. I tapped into my love of food and got really into cooking and exploring restaurants. It seems everyone’s a “foodie” nowadays but who cares. If a hobby makes you happy, do it. To that end, I mastered both a classic dish and cocktail. This skill has already taken me far.
  16. Shopped my closet. When the entire staff of my company was let go, I was out of a job for a while. I was determined not to spend money. And, beyond the necessities, I didn’t. Even when I was freelancing, I was too nervous about not being somewhere permanent to buy a single article of clothing for seven months. That’s multiple seasons. I got very good at mixing and matching the items I already owned so my wardrobe felt fresh. It’s a skill. Now that I’m buying clothes again, I’m hyper aware of how I can use each item and only purchase those things that will get significant milage.
  17. Got a genetic test. I always said I didn’t want to get genetic testing before having kids because I didn’t want to be faced with a difficult choice. However, three days after my 34th birthday, I was sitting at my annual gyno appointment and my doctor strongly recommended I be tested for the BRCA gene mutation after reviewing my chart. Turns out, I’m negative for the BRCA mutation, but I did test positive for a different gene mutation that puts me at a higher risk for colon cancer. Was this good news? No. But it’s extremely manageable, and I now recognize the power that exists in knowing. I can now make a plan for myself, my health, and my future kiddos.
  18. Saved and printed photographs. I’ve always loved photos. I love remembering a moment in time. Back in the days of disposable cameras, I’d take hundreds of pics, get them developed, start putting them in albums and then abandon the project. Then came the iPhone, which enabled me to take a bunch of photos but do nothing with them. When I realized how happy having a wedding album made me, I started creating an album every year of photos. It’s a truly special keepsake. Oh, and I realized paying for a photographer (like Flytographer) to commemorate special moments is totally worth it.
  19. Got married. This one is not entirely in my control (it takes two to tango), but it was a good move for me and an adventure I’m so happy to be on.
  20. Had the wedding of my dreams. Everyone’s dream wedding looks different – for some it’s a huge affair; for others it’s an intimate event. And trust me that either can be achieved beautifully at ANY budget level. I didn’t back down from the vision I had of my wedding being a complete dance party celebration and it will forever remain the greatest weekend of my life.
  21. Served Grand Jury Duty. While this wasn’t really a matter of choice, I’m so glad I did it. I learned a lot about the criminal justice system, made friends, was proud to contribute to my community, and gained a deeper understanding of some societal injustices.
  22. Marched/Rallied against anti-Semitism. During Trump’s presidency I saw, firsthand, a surge of anti-Semitic crimes that has continued to this day. When I learned of a march and rally in New York against these horrific, hate-filled behaviors, I made sure to join. It was empowering and uplifting to see tens of thousands of people similarly outraged by what has been happening. It made me see that I’m not crazy – this is real and it’s scary. When something is fundamentally wrong (you know, like assaulting someone because of their religion), it is vital to take a stand.
  23. Identified my “in case of fire” strategy. It’s always fun to play the game where you go around the room and say what you would grab if your house were on fire. I always thought my answer would be my Bella (spoiler alert: still is), but someone recently pointed out I’d be up you-know-what creek without a paddle if I left my social security card behind. I have always kept my most important documents (SSN card, passport, marriage license) together but decided it was time to merge those items with my hubby’s. Now everything is in one box and we both know where it is. We also had a little powwow so we know that if there’s an emergency with only two minutes to spare, we simply grab that box, our wedding album, and my Bella. Good to go.
  24. Watched documentaries. Documentaries have a way of opening up your worldview in a way other mediums can’t. My favorites (just a sampling, in no particular order) include:
    • The Seven Five
    • Three Identical Strangers
    • Score
    • Jiro Dreams of Sushi
    • Famous Nathan
    • The Accountant of Auschwitz
    • Circus of Books
    • Somm
  25. Hosted a holiday. There’s a certain level of responsibility that comes with hosting a holiday meal. When I first took on one of the Jewish holidays as my own (for my NYC framily, that is), it was humbling to realize just how much effort my Mom and Grandma put into hosting the event. Timing out the cooking, making sure the house looks nice, and honoring family traditions – it’s a lot of work! It’s important to recognize that and to do my part to keep our traditions alive.
  26. Had plastic surgery. I got a nose job a month before turning 20 and it was one of the best things I ever did. I was deeply unhappy with a specific feature and felt that part of my appearance was keeping people from getting to see the real me, which I was very happy with. So I fixed it.
  27. Enjoyed my birthday. I always take my birthday off work and make sure to do something I truly enjoy, which usually means a good meal. Who cares what it is, but it’s so important to have a day where you make it all about YOU. Put yourself first and don’t feel at all guilty about it.
  28. Found a cause to support. If you care about something, put your money where your mouth is. About 6 or 7 years ago I decided to do some research and identify the causes that are the most important to me and then donate to charities that do a great job at supporting those causes. My favorite philanthropies are:
  29. Did NOT get pregnant. I always said I wanted to have all my kids before I turned 35. Mostly, I loved having young parents and wanted to be one myself. I also wanted my parents to be young and involved grandparents. While I do have a tinge of regret about not having kids earlier for those specific reasons, I ultimately believe it was a good thing I waited to have children. I got married much later than most of my friends and I was able to enjoy a few years of unencumbered married life with my husband where we were free to travel the world and experience life and NYC together. I was also able to stay out late and booze til my heart’s content. We loved that DINK life and I’m happy I didn’t have kids before I was emotionally ready/prepared to be a fully devoted parent.
  30. Did get pregnant. Eventually I realized it was a “shit or get off the pot” moment. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having a baby but knew I wanted a child and that biological clock was ticking. I didn’t expect to encounter such fertility struggles, but I believe they made me stronger and more compassionate. And now I have a cute bambino to raise! I’m going to do everything I can to mold him into a man who will accomplish great things.
  31. Discovered my “tiny anchors.” I love this piece about those small moments or daily routines that have a grounding effect. The coffee example definitely resonated with me and is 100% one of my anchors. But it’s important to identify these tiny anchors – recognizing what mine are and making sure I activate them has really helped keep me sane.
  32. Hired a cleaning service. I am relatively tidy, but I don’t like doing the deep clean. At this point in my life, I know my strengths and understand it’s important to outsource some things. Cleaning is one of those things for me. I love having a clean home and am grateful to be in a financial position to hire someone to make that happen every few weeks. Figure out which indulgences are worth it for you.
  33. Started collections. Similar to tattoos (#11) I like identifying something that feels special enough to merit a collection and, often, be displayed.
  34. Experienced infertility and learned about my body. True, I believe it was for the best that I didn’t get pregnant sooner (#29), but that reality is that the exact timing of my pregnancy was not entirely by choice. It turns out my body is not designed to get pregnant, and I would never have become pregnant naturally. Going through the process (and it is a process) has taught me empathy, bravery, and the importance of maintaining a positive outlook. It also made me realize just how little we women know about our bodies. My issue is anatomical. I would have had problems if I tried to get pregnant 10 years earlier, but the important thing to note is that I had no idea things weren’t normal in that area. Nobody stresses the importance of getting yourself checked out. I now urge women to get to know their bodies. Have someone scope you out and learn what you’re working with. I have no regrets with the way things are – I’m happy to deal with things as they come; however, had I known my own situation, I would have made certain decisions years ago or at least felt more prepared to navigate things.
  35. Lived alone. I honestly didn’t think I would live alone. I assumed I would live with roommates in college where I would meet my husband and eventually go from early 20s with friends to a home with him, likely in Georgia. It has worked out well for virtually everyone I knew. Well that didn’t happen. I didn’t meet a husband in college and I got a job in New York. With very little time to find a roommate and Craigslist being a scary place in 2007, I grabbed an apartment solo. It was a little weird living alone at first (especially when it wasn’t how I imagined life would go) but I quickly learned it was incredible. I didn’t have to tiptoe around anyone’s mess, afraid to come off as bitchy if I asked them to clean. Any mess in my apartment was all mine and I could yell at myself if I wanted to…or not, who cares?! I could watch whatever I wanted on tv, didn’t have to be embarrassed while hanging around without makeup, could be antisocial with a book, and could process things (and shower) on my own timeline. I quickly learned to enjoy my own company and how to find my own personal moments of joy. I also learned how wonderful it is to feel completely at home when you walk in the door. I love my “roommates” now, but I highly recommend doing a stint of solo living.
  36. Partied. I had fun. A lot of it. I drank a lot, stayed out all night, and for years I said yes to any event that came up, no matter how last minute. In college, I went out 5 nights a week and my grades suffered a bit. In the end, though, I was happy to have a 3.5 GPA instead of a 3.9 because it meant I was squeezing as much as possible out of my college experience. I didn’t go overboard – it wasn’t like rumspringa; I wasn’t running around doing all sorts of drugs and was able to rein things in so my studies weren’t super disrupted. I kept having fun in the years after college too. Happy hours with coworkers were always a “yes” for me, as were spontaneous Yankees games. At 37 I need more sleep, but I don’t regret taking advantage of those younger years when I was able to run on fumes. Basically, I LIVED.