The month of April brings with it the day of my birth. Another year further away from youthful vigour and reckless abandonment. Okay, okay… I exaggerate. I was never that vigorous or reckless in my younger days, I was a rather timid young soul, and… I’m not that old… right? I mean, twenty-four years old–pssht, what’s that? Early twenties are when you’re still living it up, living the good life. Sleep? What twenty-something-year-old needs sleep? That’s for babies and old people. But then why is sleep all my body craves–night and day?!! Am I–I can’t even say it–am I an… am I an old person?!! I haven’t even yet reached the quarter century mark of my life, but I already feel so old! At twenty-four years YOUNG, I find myself worrying about my ageing, and what I’m doing with my life, and where I’m going. I used to look forward to each new birthday, as every child does, and I used to dream about being in my twenties. I never did understand people who lamented their age, seeing it as the loss of something; the loss of youth, the loss of life, the passing of their spring. I will never be like that, I would say to myself, I will accept my years graciously. But now? It is not that I am lamenting–I am not. No, really, I’m not. I am happy to be where I am. It’s just that, I don’t know how I got here so fast. It’s like, just a few months ago, I was getting ready to graduate at university, and I was still working part-time jobs. And now, ka-boom! Just like that, I’m here at twenty-four. There’s still so much I wish I had done when I was younger. So, being in this mood of reflection, I drew up a list of some of the things I wish I had done before turning twenty-four.
24 Things I Wish I Had Done Before Turning 24:
1. Gone on a real, outdoor camp. Tent and all.
2. Learned to swim.
3. Learned to ride a bike
4. Learned to roller-blade. (Yes, yes, I know. My friends tease me about having been deprived when I was younger. Poor me.)
5. Learned to speak another language. French or German would have been cool. Arabic would have been even cooler (I know some of it, but I am, sadly, not well-versed enough in it to actually speak it with confidence).
6. Travelled to more countries.
7. Learned to cook. I can cook, okay? Just not big pots of the kind of food your mom probably cooks.
8. Written a complete and proper short story, beginning to end. I keep getting stuck somewhere between the plot and character descriptions…
9. Roadtripped across South Africa. I fade away into a daydream every time I think about this one. I still really, really want to do it!
10. Opened a savings account. Is it bad that I haven’t done this yet?
11. Memorised the Qur’an.
12. Taken an actual writing course–with real, successful writers as teachers.
13. Done a photography course. I’ve always had a crazy passion for photography.
14. Bought me a professional, awesome-quality camera.
15. Learned how to sew. On a sewing machine, not by hand. Then I could sew my own clothing! And I could save so much money! To put into my savings account! Which I am yet to open…
16. Done third year at Darun-Na’im (an institute of Islamic learning). I’m always saying that I plan to go back and do it someday, in-shaa-Allah (God-willing), but I have a feeling that life will just keep happening, and I might never be able to return to complete it. Or to re-do first year… and second year. Why would I want to re-do them, you wonder? Because they were the best years of my life, spent in the best way, at the best of places. I learned so much, and grew so much. And even through re-doing it, I know with certainty that I will still learn so much more the second time around.
17. Completed a TESL/TEFL course.
18. Taught English as a foreign language in a foreign country (specifically South Korea) with my sister. We had planned to do this a long time ago, my sister and I, but then, life–as it always does–happened. And plans changed. She, however, went on to teach English in a foreign country, albeit not in South Korea, but I am yet to meet her there–which I do plan to do, some day, in-shaa-Allah (God-willing).
19. Rode a horse.
20. Rode a camel.
21. Read all the Harry Potter books. No, I haven’t read any of them yet. Don’t look at me like that.
22. Watched The Lion King. Apparently it’s one of those movies that you just had to have watched as a child, and I’m a real weirdo because I haven’t watched it yet. But do not fear, for I will remedy this soon, so lift your jaw back off the ground. And stop looking at me like that!
23. Slept more when I was ‘younger’ so that I wouldn’t be SO TIRED all the time now that I’m ‘old’! It makes one wonder, doesn’t it, what I was doing in my younger years that kept me from sleep, and yet, still, there is so much that I haven’t done? Well, I was doing stuff, okay? Just because there are twenty-four cool things that I haven’t done yet doesn’t mean that there aren’t another twenty-four, or even thirty-four, other totally fun and awesome things that I have done! Maybe that should be my next list… hmm…
24. Gotten married.