30 reasons to shake up the status quo . . .
February 5, 2011 10:33 PM   Subscribe

Help me generate a list of experiences I should have before I turn 30.

I turn 30 years old in approximately four months.

I'd like to use my birthday as a catalyst for creating a list of 'mini-experiences': must do's for anyone about to turn thirty.

The mini-experiences can range from the cliche to the obscure. Bonus points for free/cheap ideas.

I'm open to just about anything: from must-see movies to must-read books to must-do events/things/adventures/meals . . . I'm ready!
posted by WaspEnterprises to Grab Bag (32 answers total) 107 users marked this as a favorite
- Climb a mountain: Mt. Rainier should be opening soon.
posted by glambo at 10:41 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do a proper picnic with friends/family to celebrate. Weather should be warmer then, find a nice meadow or park with no-one else around; access to a lake for paddling/canoeing preferable. Alternatively, borrow/rent a sailboat and find a nice cove.

Travel somewhere you've always wanted to go.
posted by arcticseal at 10:59 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

These are things that came up when I was two years from turning 30 that I set out to do:
-Voluntarily jump out of a perfectly good airplane
- Eat psychedelic mushrooms (or acid) in a city in which you do not speak the language.
- Climb the 46 peaks in NY State Adirondack Park
-Drive across the country (USA) without using the interstate system.
-Play golf at Pebble Beach and Augusta National (still have not played Augusta -- anyone know a member who would take me out?)
-Write a novel (mine sucks).
-Go to every major league baseball stadium to see a game at least once.
-run a marathon
-complete a triathlon (any distance)
-Be a world record holder in some category
-Cook a meal for 30 or more people.
-Bench press my weight 10 times
-learn to fix my own car/engine
-Invent something.
-Become proficient with my 9mm Glock
-Spend a week in the woods by myself with only what I could carry and not stay in the same campsite more than one night. Accept no help from others unless emergency.
-Drink 30 beers on my birthday. (start early in the morning to make this work more easily).
-read a list of classics (about 15 books over a 2 year period that I had not read that were generally considered classics such as Moby Dick and a Tale of Two Cities, etc.).
-See my 125th Grateful Dead show.
-Talk face to face with my congressman and one of my senators.

I cannot find the document I wrote and tracked them on as it was over 15 years ago, but I generally was seeking new experiences, experiences that pushed me beyond what I had done before and just things that interested me that I thought would be easier to accomplish if I was younger and without children.
posted by AugustWest at 11:02 PM on February 5, 2011 [12 favorites]

Based on stuff either friends of mine or I myself felt they/we had to do before they turned thirty:
- skydive
- go overseas/on a holiday/adventure on your own
- have sex
- have kinky sex
- run some arbitrary distance (5k, 10k, marathon...)
- go camping for an arbitrary amount of time (a week/a month)
- learn a foreign language
- learn to play an instrument
- learn to dance
- go to a fine restaurant
- go to an opera
- go to a live concert of a famous band
- get a really thorough physical, maybe with some genetic tests
- write a novel
- see a meteor shower (e.g. the perseids)
- stay up all night and watch the sunset (preferably on a beach)
- learn to surf
- dive from a high diving board
- bungee jump
- go scuba diving or snorkelling
- look after a small child for a couple of days on your own
- buy a house
- build something (a friend wanted to build a table before she turned 30)

A way to find more ideas might be by googling "bucket list"
posted by lollusc at 11:07 PM on February 5, 2011

I meant sunrise, obviously.
posted by lollusc at 11:08 PM on February 5, 2011

Have children.
Get a PhD.
Form a long-term relationship with an at-risk youth through a local volunteer organization, celebrate their getting a college scholarship.
Remodel a house with no help from contractors.
Celebrate your 30th with the phrase "I'm in the best shape of my life", and mean it.
posted by halogen at 11:28 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here's a downer: start a savings/investment account.
posted by Cranberry at 11:41 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

Here's a downer: start a savings/investment account.
No, that's positive! You have to start and it's as good a time as any.

I have a friend who on his 30th bungee'd off the Williamsburg Bridge.

I meant to drive to Baja, Mexico around my 30th but ran out of car/money. (From Brooklyn, it would not have been a small trip.)

That said, I think the fulfillment of a hair-brained idea is maybe more significant than the specific details of said idea.

Good luck!
posted by From Bklyn at 12:00 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This really depends on what matters to you. I'd suggest asking your friends to drag you along to something you'd ordinarily never do.

Some things I or my friends have enjoyed:
--do something exciting (motorcycling, scuba diving, skydiving, surfing)
--go to an automatic weapons shoot day at your local gun club/range
--get training to do something that helps people (EMT-ing)
--cook something fancy
--a formal initiation ceremony
--make something and sell it
--anything good you've wanted to do "someday" for more than ~5 years

I'm using turning 25 as an excuse to do what I've been meaning to do for a long time.
posted by sninctown at 12:06 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Here are a few I've done that I can recommend:

- make a list that evokes both tiny moments and peak experiences of your life, a la Lyn Hejinian's My Life.
- tour the unexpected/unofficial "monuments" of your town, a la Robert Smithson.
- go somewhere, not necessarily far, just because it has an interesting name, and walk around looking at ordinary things.
- go somewhere, not necessarily far, just because it looks interesting on Google Maps, and walk around looking at ordinary things.
- accept a few invitations from friends to do things that you're not sure about, purely to shake up the status quo.
- arrange something simple but unforgettable to do with someone you love.

I really don't think in terms of bucket lists or lifetime achievements though--I think what's important in life are the ways you approach what you do.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:08 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm just a baby, but here's what I want to do over the next 7 years:

—spend at least a few years in one of the great cities.
—get married at least once.
—drink less.
—drink more.
—try a few new drugs.
—get a new pet.
—shoot more guns.
—get involved with a city revitalization project.
—get involved with a leftist political group.
—get more tattoos.
—make a short film.
—start a commune.
—undermine SOMETHING.
—build something better.
—eat more tacos/burritos/pizza.

posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:25 AM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

I think the real answer here is figure out what YOU really want to do, these are great ideas of what others would like to do.

I want to master backgammon, freedive to over 100ft. (almost there! it starts to get creepy around 50ft) I also want to make the best steak in the world. These are not things most people want to do.

I have zero interest in dropping acid in a random city. sky diving...meh

Bucket lists are what YOU have always wanted to do.

That being said I think EVERYONE should learn basic life support skills (first aid, cpr, ect.), drive a stick well, and cook thanksgiving.
posted by Felex at 12:28 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

OP, just do your best, be true to yourself, be kind to your friends, and ignore these idiots.

I'm sorta stuck between this one, and this:

Eat psychedelic mushrooms (or acid) in a city in which you do not speak the language

Forget about the city in which you do not speak the language, just do a psychedelic at least once before you turn 90. In the right situation, it's a beautiful thing. Otherwise, like the man said, "be true to yourself, be kind to your friends". Who's to say who's an idiot?
posted by philip-random at 1:39 AM on February 6, 2011

Best answer: For your next four months...

* Join a community clean up project for a day or a weekend (22)
* Live by the three second rule (23)
* Open an IRA account (26)
* Spend a day at a proper old-school barber shop (26)
* Work the line at a soup kitchen (22)
* Put on a suit, head to the tallest hotel bar in town, and have a classic martini (23)
* Streak (27)
* Write thank you notes to your family for something that they did for you that you never said thank you for. (30)
* Go to a sushi bar and ask for the chef's selection and eat everything on your plate (28)

In addition to the above which I recommend for everyone, my own list was...

* Move away from the hometown (25)
* Reside in a foreign country for at least a year (30)
* Graduate school (29)
* Cycle from Los Angeles to San Francisco (23)
* Make $50k a year (23)
* Change careers (from IT to branding) (26)
* Run my own business (29)
* See the Great Wall of China (27)
* Spend time learning about life in the villages of Southern India (28)
* Date as wide a variety of women as possible (basically never say no to a dating opportunity)
* Learn how to cook really well (25 – 30)
* See Pink Floyd live (27)

The three things that didn't happen:
* Get married
* Buy a house
* Hang out on a yacht with Jay-Z
posted by nickrussell at 2:43 AM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Do the thing that takes you out of your comfort zone and your routine.

Do something that scares you.

Try a food that instinctively repulses you but that everyone regards as a delicacy.

Take a break from work and do something wild, probably involving travel.

Travel somewhere where you cannot rely on getting away with speaking English.

If you ever ever harboured any desire to be a performer of any kind, do it now.

Buy a stupidly expensive bottle of your favourite drink and get wrecked on it.

Look steadily at yourself in the mirror and, with all the gravity you can muster, intone the following:

You are thirty years old. You are pretty much in your prime. You will not and cannot believe how quickly the next twenty years will pass. Now get out there and do it, whatever it is.
posted by Decani at 4:33 AM on February 6, 2011

Here's a downer: start a savings/investment account.

No, HERE's a downer. Figure out how much MORE you'd have to save monthly to have the same retirement if you wait until you're 40. :-)

30's a good time to start this. (age 12 is better, but most of us can't pull it off). You've still got time to comfortably save, but your income is (hopefully) up from when you're 20 and have trouble making it.
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:37 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Many thanks for the fabulous suggestions!

When I was twenty-four I made a list of "24 before I'm 30" . . . twenty-four things that I absolutely HAD to do before hitting the big 3-0. The items on the list ranged from things like 'get a tattoo' to 'backpack in Europe' to 'maintain solid relationships with my siblings' (I actually fulfilled these three!). I didn't get everything done, but definitely gave it a good start.

I've managed to keep my twenties pretty happening, but really want to do it up (in terms of experiences) over the next four months. A big birthday seems like a great excuse to try/do new things.

I think I'm thinking in terms of a mini bucket list . . . not necessarily big, huge life changers, but rather things that can be done in a day or a week.

The ideas so far have put me on the right track . . . keep them coming!
posted by WaspEnterprises at 6:32 AM on February 6, 2011

Have a threesome.
posted by Netzapper at 7:30 AM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Shave your head.
Go out in public in an outfit you've always wanted to wear but been too scared to.
Go on a solo vacation.
Spend a day pretending to be someone else. Introduce yourself to strangers under a fake name.
Pick one bad habit and break it forever.
Make it a mission to meet as many new people as possible in a month.
Get a pet if you want one and don't have one yet.
If you're on good terms with your parents/grandparents/other older relatives, start really talking to them. Ask them about their childhood, call them just to say hi, etc.
If you're in debt, get out.
Buy something totally impractical and luxurious.
Get on a game show.
Make an appointment with your doctor(s) and ask every minor health question you've been curious about. Get screened for everything you've ever wondered about, find out what your sinuses look like, get your cholesterol and bone density and whatever tested.
Figure out what you want to do when you grow up and start working on it.

Ultimately, I agree that this sort of thing is personal. There are probably several things that have been dwelling in the back of your head for some time - things that you think you shouldn't do because they're crazy and impractical, and things you think you should do because they're sensible and will have long-term benefits. If you've been dwelling on it, do it.

Personally, now that I'm on the other side of 30, I'm more grateful for the sensible things I've done than the wacky ones. But that might just be because I'm old and boring.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:10 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Conversely, Esquire has a list of things a man should never do after 30. You could sort of consider doing the inverse.

They also have a much longer overall bucket list, but don't fix you to a schedule for that.
posted by Naberius at 8:33 AM on February 6, 2011

Best answer: Invent your own signature dish and cocktail.
Revisit all the foods you think you don't like and try them prepared several different ways, just to make sure.
Take an incredible photo and get it professionally framed.
Write heartfelt letters to anyone who's had a significant influence on your life thus far.
posted by anderjen at 8:35 AM on February 6, 2011

FWIW, I just turned 30 and it's far from the end of your life. I don't feel that I can't do any of the things I did at, say, 26.

That said, I will admit that there are fewer single and/or responsibility-free friends to do them with. (Plus side - I get to play with other people's babies and when friends are free, they actually have money to do things.)

Just thought I'd throw that out there. That said, go in a roadtri, cross country if possible.
posted by maryr at 8:51 AM on February 6, 2011

-figure out what excites and gives you pleasure. Do these things as much as possible
-start a 'practice' (e.g. yoga, church, writing every day)
-learn to cook cheap, tasty, healthy meals
-learn to stick up for yourself
-set boundaries with employers and your parents
-learn a new practical skills (e.g.guitar, Microsoft office, carpentry)
-start to be as generous as possible within your means. Not just with money, but with time, giving feedback, and overall positive energy
-take breaks from the internet and electronic devices. Get sunshine every day. Get outside every day
posted by Rocket26 at 9:32 AM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]

Come to terms with your own mortality.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:49 AM on February 6, 2011

Best answer: 30 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do Before Turning 30 (my parents gave me this book when I turned 25, I think out of concern about my ability to be a functional adult) explains 30 simple skills adults should have, like how to fold a fitted sheet, jump start a car, carve a turkey, ask for a raise, etc. Pretty basic stuff and yet I admit that my 26-year-old self hasn't learned to do lots of it.
posted by naoko at 10:52 AM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

Live in a country other than the one you grew up in for at least a few months. A year if possible.
posted by slimepuppy at 12:03 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Don't die.
posted by Harry at 12:22 AM on February 7, 2011

As far as the Esquire list, I think some of these are things no one should do regardless of age...
10. Refer to breasts as "chesticles."
23. Hang tapestries.
27. Break up with a girlfriend by e-mail.
47. Fall asleep in public.
49. Pick a fistfight by thrusting out your neck, flexing, and screaming, "It's go time!"
And some things are indeed timeless and enduring, no matter what equire says...
35. Sleep past 10:30.
40. Listen to Pink Floyd.
45. Attend Mardi Gras, Carnaval, or Burning Man.
posted by nickrussell at 2:12 AM on February 7, 2011

Things that are on my list to do before age 30:

1. Get back in shape
2. Record an album
3. Play a show out
4. Draw a comic
5. Create enough artwork to exhibit or sell
6. Travel out of the country
7. Make more money
8. Buy a house

At the time I made this list, I had five years to go. Now I only have three, and that's all I've gotten done. And I'm not making a lot more money.
posted by limeonaire at 8:45 AM on February 7, 2011

BIG BOY PROJECT - I feel like doing all of the things written on this page. Am just wondering if it is technically possible to do it in 5 years time.

Will start with Harry's suggestion
posted by manny_calavera at 10:17 AM on February 7, 2011

It's interesting what some consider essential and some not - I would rather stick rusty pins in my eyes than see Pink Floyd, although The Pink Floyd is alright by me. I've also hung a tapestry or two in my time. And pretty much nobody can afford to buy a house before 30 in my city, unless they are of independent means.

If you are a woman, get fitted for a bra.

Dye your hair a stupid colour. It will grow out.

Learn to do something people pay others to do, be it sewing in a zip, making bread, or putting up a shelf.

Read a Really Hard Book.

Have a same-sex experience, to see if you like it. Or at least watch some gay porn and see what happens.
posted by mippy at 2:04 PM on February 7, 2011

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