Life Lists and Other Thoughts

Some of you may have realized by now that I am an obsessive-compulsive list maker. I make lists about everything. What to pack, what to buy, what to make, what to eat… It’s kind of a problem. Anyway, all of these lists have added up to a big pile of notebooks full of lists. A pile that I had to sort through this week and weed out.

It was actually very neat to look through the pile of old notebooks. Some I hadn’t seen in a long time and the contents made me chuckle. There were the pink Lisa Frank notebooks from 2003 with lists reading, “Hilary Duff movies I have seen” and “What to Buy with my Aeropostale Gift Card” (Yeah, I’m kind of ashamed of that one now) There were lists from various school projects on topics like, “Works by Baroque Composers” and “Darwinism versus Calvinism”. I found dozens upon dozens of Bible verses, scrawled on the edges of pages and probably memorized last-minute before tests. And there were pages of scribblings on different theological topics I was studying, with writing going upside down and sideways as I jotted down notes from books and Bibles. I even found all my original lists of literary agents and submission requirements!

But the coolest thing I stumbled upon in my notebook purging binge was a list I probably wrote in 2008 or 2009. Three or four years ago. On the top of the page in neat cursive handwriting (a sign that this was important to me–I never write neatly or in cursive!), it read: “My List of Things to Do in Life”.

It was really fun to read over the list and remember everything that I once wanted to do someday. I thought I’d copy the list here, and then give some of my thoughts on the list now. Some of them are really embarrassing to me now, but I’ll give you the whole, unedited list just for history’s sake.

“My List of Things to Do in Life” – circa 2008

  1. Learn to play Claude Debussy’s ‘Reverie’ on the piano
  2. Save a life
  3. Give without expecting in return
  4. Publish a book
  5. Travel to every continent
  6. Kiss on top of a ferris wheel
  7. See an opera
  8. Meet an influential person
  9. Forgive someone I didn’t think I could
  10. Read a book in another language
  11. Learn how to fence
  12. See the Northern Lights
  13. Take pleasure in simple, beautiful things
  14. Tell someone that I love them every single day
  15. Do something right that no one else would know about
  16. Own over 500 books
  17. Have a picnic by the sea
  18. Teach someone something about life
  19. Wear an evening gown somewhere other than my wedding
  20. Be a good role model

And that’s it. Twenty things I wanted to do one day, written when I was about thirteen years old. Like I said, it cracks me up to read it now, because there are several things on there that I would never think of now. Kiss on a ferris wheel? Wear an evening gown? Own 500 books???? Other things I’d forgotten I’d ever wanted to do. Like have a picnic by the sea. (Wouldn’t that be amazing?) Or see the Northern Lights.

I know that making life lists is a very clichéd thing to do, and if you’re thinking that, I totally agree with you. And yet, it also sort of fills me with a semi-sentimental happy feeling. Once upon a time, I had really big dreams. I was going to go somewhere in life. (Forget somewhere–I was going to go everywhere! All seven continents!) There were really big, cool things that I wanted to do and see. Some of them may seem silly to me now, but at the time, they were unbelievable life dreams.

And then, there were also more serious things that I wanted to do someday. Be a good role model. Give without expecting in return. Do something right that no one else would know about. Those are all still things that I am struggling to do and accomplish. And I know that they are things I will struggle with my whole life. I’ll never be able to be the person that I always dream of being–the girl who is perfect and selfless and always gives sacrificially. But, by the grace of God, I hope that’s the person I’ll always be working toward becoming. Even when I make mistakes and fall behind, I hope that I’ll always be able to look forward. I want to always look to the future with the same optimism and hope that I did when I was thirteen. I honestly believed that God had big plans for my life and I had plans, too. I knew they wouldn’t all come true and I was okay with that, but I wasn’t afraid to dream. And I don’t want to be afraid to dream now.



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  1. It’s a great list. You were a very mature 13-year-old.

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
  2. * Alyson says:

    I make lists all the time. My friend got me a notebook just for lists : )

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
  3. * Julia Byers says:

    I do lists like that all the time, haha. 🙂 I actually had a list of 18 things to do before I turned 18 that I made 18 days before my birthday, this year. While I didn’t manage to accomplish all of the things on the list (one, for instance, was staying awake for 24 hours straight, which didn’t really work since it was in the middle of the school year and I needed to be rested for tests and stuff), I did get to do a lot of stuff in those 18 days that I didn’t think I would be able to, which was super nice. It made me feel like I was readier to leave childhood behind, whereas before I kind of just sat there and went, “BUT THERE’S SO MUCH I HAVEN’T YET DONE!!! I CAN’T BE AN ADULT YET!!! NOOOO!!!!!!!” (<– Exact words. I'm not kidding.)

    But anyway, it was really cool getting to read your list. It's nice to be able to look back and see such a concrete image of who you were at the time that you wrote it. 🙂

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
    • * RachelC says:

      Wow, that sounds like a great list! I’ll have to do something like that before my eighteenth birthday. 🙂 I know–isn’t it sad growing up and not being a child anymore? 😦 I think I have a Peter Pan complex in that regard. 😉

      | Reply Posted 6 years ago
      • * Julia Byers says:

        Yeah, Peter Pan knows what’s up. 😉 Back in like middle school, I was really excited to grow up — now I just want to be a kid again.

        Posted 6 years ago
  4. It may not have been your intent, but you’ve given me a new idea for actually journaling. See, I’ve always wanted to keep a journal; I’ll get the urge every so often; and after a few days I give up. But I am just as list-obsessed as you are. I never thought to keep all my lists in one notebook to look over later! Haha.

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago
  5. * IntrovertedSarah says:

    This is a fantastic list. I will steal , I mean borrow, some things from it.,

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago

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