When I turned 18, I made a bucket list.


18-year-old Past Me assumed that 82-year-old Future Me would find herself on her deathbed, lamenting that she never did anything with her life.

And so, 18-year-old Me set out to prove Future Me wrong.

She created a bucket list so that whenever Future Me might find herself trapped in a spiral of “I’ve never accomplished anything in life”, Future Me could pull up her bucket list, scroll down to the “DONE” section, and be incontrovertibly wrong.

Over the years, my bucket list has evolved into these key sections:

  • TO DO:
    • US Travel
    • International Travel
    • Hobbies
    • General Life Stuff
  • DONE

My pending bucket list is pretty long, and what I want to accomplish sometimes changes, but seeing as I recently achieved another bucket list item, I figured I’d share what I’ve accomplished so far with you!

(I’ve been obsessed with travel since I was a kid, so the DONE section lists travel first, then writing stuff, then life stuff.)




  • Argentina:
    • Go back at least once to Buenos Aires & Iguazú.
    • Visit Bariloche.
  • Croatia:
    • Dubrovnik
  • France:
    • Climb the Notre Dame (<–made it the month before the fire happened.)
    • Go back to France & go to top of Arc d’ Triomphe ( A M A Z I N G ) & top of Eiffel Tower (overrated)
  • Iceland:
    • Rogue One beach (AKA Reynisfjara) & hot springs (“Secret” Lagoon) & hiking
    • Blue Lagoon
  • Italy:
    • Naboo Lake Country from Star Wars (i.e., Lake Como region)
  • Spain:
    • Granada + “see the cool place that starts with an A” (The Alhambra! Also, I was not deathly allergic to Granada’s air when I visited for the first time, but I was 5 years later—AKA, that time I learned I need an EpiPen. 😦 )
    • Go back to Sevilla & Barcelona!
  • Switzerland:
    • Alps!
  • United Kingdom:
    • England (London)
    • Ascend the Rock of Gibraltar(!)


  • Arizona
  • California
    • Yosemite National Park
  • Florida
    • Disneyworld & Star Wars Land (i.e., Galaxy’s Edge)
    • The Everglades
    • The Keys
    • Miami
    • Go back to Tampa
  • New York
  • Texas
    • Not really sure why I wanted to go to Texas so badly? I blame Lee Scoresby from His Dark Materials. I’ve been to San Antonio a couple times, and Houston once.
  • Utah
    • I grew up hearing how much my parents liked their visit(s) to Utah when I was a toddler, and how pretty it was out there.

Writing Stuff:

Life Stuff:

  • Learn how to slackline (I was terrified of talking to strangers, so this was a big deal for me back then.)
  • Become fluent in Spanish (not sure when this happened, but people say I am and now I get paid to translate speculative stories from Spanish to English!)
  • Have my own car
  • Make dulce de leche properly (<–did this a time or two, and then never replicated. I should try again!)
  • Take a ride in a helicopter of some sort (<–tourist helicopter in NY!)
  • Swim in the Pacific Ocean
  • Touch the Mediterranean
  • Run a sub-10 minute mile (<–for a long time, I was running 17 minute miles. Literally. I can walk a mile faster than that.)
  • Run a 9-minute mile.
  • See the Aurora Borealis (<–saw it from a plane! Also while in Reykjavik, Iceland, the first time)
  • Pass the Level 1 test for Krav Maga.
  • Take a cool underwater photo (<–got one of my sister, with a waterproof disposable camera while swimming off Buxton, NC)
  • Live in a house I love.
  • Have my own dog!

I’ve been to way more countries (almost 20 of them, I think) and US states (23 of them, I think) than this list implies. The places I’ve been to and the goals I’ve achieved so far on my bucket list were longer-term desires that I didn’t want to forget or lose sight of.

One of the ways my bucket list has evolved:

Many of the places I’ve traveled, I didn’t know much about at first. Once I spent time in them, however, I learned more about the area (and people), and found myself making wish lists of things I’d like to do if I ever return. At least 11 of the trips in my bucket list’s current TO DO section start with “go back to…”

Last thoughts:

If you don’t have a bucket list, make one. Make some of the goals ones you know you can accomplish in the next year or two. Make others pie-in-the-sky ones that you may never accomplish. Fill in the blanks with new goals and experiences as you go through life.

Don’t be afraid to remove things from your list if, after a few years, you’re no longer interested in them. What we want IS allowed to change over time, you know. If you’re like me, and you don’t want to forget that you discontinued a goal, just add a DISCONTINUED section to the bottom of your bucket list, after the DONE section!

A bucket list isn’t a rigid framework for how you must live your life. It’s basically a loose, friendly guide to help keep you on track toward your aspirations and to remind you of the unexpected joys you can sprinkle into your future. Don’t stop dreaming!

One thought on “My Bucket List

  1. Monica, I enjoyed your article about your bucket list. It has inspired me to start one of my own. You are certainly well traveled for such a young woman. Good luck reaching each of your bucket list goals.


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