My 26th birthday was a night of dancing, free drinks, laughing out loud, and coming to the near-fatal realization that I am 26 years old. At this age, I’m still just a writer working part-time as a waitress (or maybe it’s the other way around) and barely making enough to make it week to week. While I have a lot to be thankful for, there’s still so much I wanted to accomplish but haven’t.

In college, I was so sure that I would be the next great American author. I had everything I needed–a published book, professors who totally loved me, internships lined up, and unwavering confidence that I would one day be somebody. 

It’s hard to think back and try to pinpoint the exact moment your dream started to crumble right before your eyes. For me, it comes in pieces. I think back to the opportunity I missed to intern for Simon & Schuster, turning down a place to stay in New York and instead choosing to stay in Massachusetts, not starting a blog immediately after college, failing to go to Grad school, and always telling everyone who I was going to be, but never telling them how I’d get there. 

I am a dreamer, my eyes are always fixated on the future with no present insight. 

About two months before my birthday, I completely totaled my car. As writer/waitress, there was clearly no possibility of replacing it any time soon. As I stood sobbing in front of the police officer, trying to explain what happened while standing in a puddle of coolant, I was utterly and completely sh*t-out-of-luck, a state of being I had grown very accustomed to.

It took about two weeks, a visit from my mom, and three bottles of wine before I actually started to recover and search for the thin silver lining. I looked to this as the opportunity to save money and focus on more important things. Without a car, I’d be saving about $500 a month. And what, you may ask, did I do with the first $500 of not having a car? I had my self the best goddam birthday weekend in years.

The morning when I awoke with a pounding headache and vague memories of dodging a six-foot-seven bouncer under a velvet rope, the year 26 came down on me hard. 

For years, I had goals for myself, for who I dreamed of being, and I was always moving, but I wasn’t going anywhere. After losing my car and feeling the sharp, brutal edges of rock bottom, so many things came into perspective. My vision completely tunneled on the remedial task of getting my sh*t together. 

Throughout the month of July, I began compiling a list of goals and things I wanted to do before I turn 27. While some of them are small and menial, they’re tasks I’ve been putting off for years. Here are the 26 goals I want to achieve before I turn 27:

1. Buy New Glasses

I’ve needed new classes for four years now. It’s time to finally get a new pair and stop putting it off.

2. Learn Spanish

As a half Puerto Rican who was born and raised in California, it’s embarrassing at this point that I don’t speak any Spanish whatsoever. I don’t need to become fluent, but just enough to get me to the American Embassy if I ever get lost in Mexico. 

3. Read 10 Books

I used to be able to read a new book every week. As I got older and was given more responsibilities, my love of reading started to die out. I want to change that. Books 1204029 1920

4. Find a New Writing Job

Whether it’s finding a new part-time writing job (hopefully finding a full-time one), the main point of this goal is to no longer have the need to serve tables anymore.  

5. Shred Useless Papers

I am a hoarder. A hoarder of old mail and other useless paper. It takes up way too much space in my tiny studio apartment. 

6. Clean Out My Closet and Donate Clothes

Again, I am a hoarder. I have way too many clothes that I no longer wear and I should give them to someone who really needs it. 

7. Go Vegan For One Month

Breakfast 1804457 1920While I tend to stick to a mostly vegan diet during the week and pescatarian on the weekends, I want to challenge myself to a full month.

8. Go See a Therapist

In the past, I’ve attended therapy sessions and it helped put a lot of my issues into perspective. Seeing one again could help me find focus and clarity. I never see any shame in asking for help.

9. One Month Alcohol-Free

I love wine. I love wine so much. This is maybe the hardest goal yet, but one I think will teach me more self-control.

10. Finish Writing My Book

One thing the world doesn’t need any more of is a young adult fantasy novel, but I started one three years ago and I intend on finishing it.

11. Get Dakota’s Teeth Fixed

My sweet, angel-faced puppy has needed her teeth fixed since I first adopted her four years ago, but it was much more expensive than I realized. Nonetheless, it’s time to get the baby’s teeth fixed once and for all. 

12. Organize Pantry

As a self-proclaimed hoarder, there are many times messes will accumulate, mutate, and become a whole other type of natural disaster entirely. One of the worst disasters currently residing in my apartment is my pantry, and it must be organized immediately. 

13. Attend 5 Writing Workshops

I haven’t been inspired and critiqued by a group of writers since college. It’s terrifying but I love it and attending more writer’s workshops is what needs to happen.

14. Take a Road Trip Road 2898258 1280

Nothing major or across the country, but taking the time to see a state I’ve never been to before would be fun. 

15. Go to a Dance Class

I love to dance, even if I’m bad at it. Still deciding on the type of dance class I’d like to take, but leaning towards salsa.

16. Open a Savings Account

I’m 26 and still don’t have one. No further explanation needed.

17. Not Use Dating Apps

I need to find new ways to meet men because dating apps have clearly not worked for me. (See my first two blogs for reference.)

18. Volunteer

Instead of spending my days off lounging on my couch eating tacos and downing wine, I can actually use that time to volunteer and try to make a difference.

19. Get A Check-up

It would be too mortifying to admit how long it has been since going to the doctor for a checkup, so I’ll just say that I desperately need one. 

20. Treat Myself to a Spa Day

I’ve never been to a spa and self-care should always be a priority.

21. Go To a Concert Concert 336695 1280

I haven’t been to a concert in about seven years or so. I don’t know who to see, but it’d be a fun experience

22. Write 50 Blog Posts

My job requires me to write blogs for other people, but hardly allows me the time to write blogs for myself. It’s important for my writing that I keep up with my blog posts.

23. Visit My California Family

Being originally from California, I have a lot of family in the Golden State that I miss too much. Seeing them always brings me the greatest joy. 

24. One Month of New Activity

Every week for a month I’ll try new exercise classes. One week could be a spinning class, the next week boxing, or even a pole dancing class. Anything to get me out of my comfort zone. 

25. Pay off Small Debts

There are three bills sitting in collections that need to be paid ASAP. 

26. Go to Machu Picchu 

This one is a stretch, I know. But as I said before, I am a dreamer. That will never change and I don’t want it to. After writing blog after blog for other people about Machu Picchu, I want to see it for myself. This is the adventure I want to take when I turn 27. Machu Picchu 1569324 1280

While some of these goals may seem like just fun things I want to do and less about becoming a better adult, enjoying the little things in life is what lifts us up. I want to be a writer and I want to build a career, but I also want to remember how to have fun again instead of being in a constate state of stress.

Every single day I think about all the things I haven’t done but I’ve been dying to try. If I’m going to write, I need to experience the world and get a taste of what it has to offer me. Each week leading up to my 27th birthday I will work towards my goals and get my sh*t together. With only one life to live (as cliche as that sounds), I want to take every opportunity I have to actually live it. 

Check back for updates to see how far I’ve come each week!