NON-EXHAUSTIVE TO-DO BEFORE AGE 25 LIST
BY MADDI REYNOLDS, AGE 16
1. Finish School with impeccable grades and a few friends.
2. Get accepted into a University degree with a higher cut-off than I achieved,
feel superior etc.
3. Graduate University, throw hat, promise world peace etc.
4. Find employment in dream career.
5. Marriage to dream man (blonde, tall and preferably foreign).
6. Own most hyggeligt house in lush location.
7. Purchase first baby Birkenstock’s for ultimate mother/child aesthetic.
Time hasn’t changed a lot. I still spend an obnoxious amount of my life writing lists that I will not action. I similarly still have an unwavering commitment to purchasing baby Birkenstock’s for said future spawn and, if Instagram is still a thing we do in that distant time, I am certain I will be the kind of mother that uses her child for likes.
When I was 16, I thought that in your twenties your life fell into place. Once I reached the age of adult freedom, everything would make sense, the world would come to me, cherish me and lead me towards real happiness and contentment.
I was a purist in my innocence, led along a narrative sold to me as a 'choose your own adventure'.
We all grow up with this voice of reason. We are advised to follow this rational path, but in its rationality, this stock-standard novel leaves little room for anything beside the pre-requisites of adulthood.
I began my adult life ticking off boxes 1 and 2 fairly quickly. The superior feeling of check-list point 2 left fairly quickly when I realised the ease I’d felt in higher school education would not be reciprocated at tertiary Law school. Nevertheless, I found identity in my unwavering commitment to our Heavenly Father, his son Jesus and the Church. I spent my days consumed by the voluntary activities I undertook. The pressures of this were unhealthy and obsessive, but if check-list point 5 was ever going to be ticked off, the men of God needed to know I was a suitable wife. Except I wasn’t, and never would be.
I was loud, brash, outspoken, opinionated, educated, ambitious, deeply feminist (although I didn’t realise this at the time) and sarcastic, served alongside a deep knowledge of my self-worth. I was my Mother’s daughter, “who loved loving men but loved knowing women”.
I must admit I hated the fact that my friends were getting married until recently. It felt a lot like they were coming to my birthday party and leaving before the cake without a lolly-bag. I wanted them to find the joy I had found on my own. I wanted them to experience a drunken fling with the hot guy playing cards in the hostel kitchen. I wanted them to laugh at themselves attempting to hike in Nike’s whilst being pummelled by a Scottish hailstorm. There were so many peaks of stunning self-realisations I had come to on my own. They too were coming to these realisations, but just not in the same ways as I had. Maybe they longed for me to experience the sharing of three perfect words with someone who truly believed them? Or the joy in knowing you were cared for and loved beyond your comprehension?
Around the same time, check-list point 4 began falling through. In the Winter of 2015, I invested in my first Kathmandu backpack and wandered into an oriental dream. I loved the spirit of adventure, awakening each morning to an endless list of possibilities and knowing people in foreign places, with foreign lives.
I felt the blood running through my body and for the first time I knew that there were others too, themselves breathing, living.
I returned home enlightened. My friends too had had Winter’s of new experience; finding work in sought after careers, earning money and making a name for themselves. I wasn’t jealous of them, even when I returned to selling children’s underwear for minimum wage and couldn’t contribute more to career conversations then a story of a cute baby that threw up on the shop floor last shift. Their commitment to their futures was replicated in my commitment to learning. And so I left to learn in a classroom not confined by four walls and a PowerPoint presentation.
Mikaela Mahony, a friend and peer, shared her thoughts about “falling behind” on her blog recently (the link to her blog is below the text, I am shamelessly promoting her). In it she quotes Australian Federal Circuit Court judge, Judge Sexton and concludes that “just because you aren’t successful right now doesn’t mean you won’t be.” On Friday’s, my two best friends Dasha and Nicola, head to the corporate law firms they practice in. As they exit at Sydney’s Town Hall, I struggle for a park in Westfield Miranda’s staff parking area. My time for an entry-level job in my ‘dream career’ isn’t today, nor this month, and maybe not even this year. I am not ‘successful’ professionally, I still don’t know clearly what I’d like to do and I don’t have any pressing passion to get there, wherever there is. But that’s ok. I am reaching a point where I am ok with waiting and letting my other successes of now being the ones I cherish.
I purchase avo on toast too frequently and owe my parents the equivalent of 2.5 new MacBook’s in borrowed funds (I’m too embarrassed to give you an exact amount so you’ll need to work it out for yourselves). My hopes for fulfilling check-list point 6 anytime soon are laughable. Likewise with 7, the only child I will be spawning before 25 will be an illegitimate one or one conceived through Immaculate Conception. I feel like God could choose someone who swears a lot less than me to birth his offspring and isn’t the point of the New Testament that Jesus dies and comes back in his full form? Someone fact check me on this, it’s been a while since I attended bible study.
So, the result, with just over three years remaining:
In a strange twist of fate, my own ambitions have seemingly failed me. If I hadn’t stopped studying Mathematics shortly before writing this list, maybe the odds of it reaching fruition would be a lot higher. The goals of my youth are 28.57% complete, and yet I find myself saying “thank you”. There is no human-cycle of progress. We all progress at our own pace in different ways. You are unique, intriguing and successful, as am I. Behind every goal in this list is really just a hope of happiness and contentment. For that I have passed with distinction, for I am both infatuated by the twists and turns of my being and so comfortable at this moment. And in a world of unpredictability, why aim for anything else.
To see Mikaela's blog visit: https://mikaelamahony.wordpress.com/
 Ok I may have substituted a word popular in 2012 for something more current.
 I realise this doesn’t apply to every religious man under the sun. This is rather a reflection of the men who’s adoration I longed for and those who surrounded me at the time.
 Lena Dunham in her ‘Women of the Hour’ podcast, Season 1. Also, I’m not a lesbian if this is read in that way – holla to all the boys who got worried (ie, none of you readers).
 Mikaela Mahony, 'You're Not Falling Behind, It's Just Not Your Time', 2017: https://mikaelamahony.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/youre-not-falling-behind-its-just-not-your-time/