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The Reverse Bucket List

The moment I stopped comparing myself to my Facebook friends and focused on my own accomplishments.

Life in 2018 is tough. Thanks to society’s obsession with social media, we spend every waking moment photographing ourselves, posting videos and frantically hashtagging (yes, we live in a world where that’s a verb now) in order to maximise our audience. But with everyone shoving the glossy, fake highlights of their lives down our throats, we actually spend most of our time utterly depressed, comparing our own hum-drum lives with the fabricated marvellousness of others’.

But instead of wallowing in self-pity or worrying that I’ll never be as cool as those filtered yoga goddesses posing on the beach as the sun sets, with nobody else around (except for whoever took the 23 shots it required to get it just right)… I decided to look at things differently.

We all have bucket lists; things we wish we could do one day. Things that will make us feel better about ourselves… a little closer to those yoga-posers. But what about the things we’ve already accomplished?

I’ve spent most of my adult life thinking I haven’t really done anything impressive. I’ve beaten myself up and compared myself to old classmates who are living the dream. I’ve been so busy trying to keep up with the Kardashians that I’ve forgotten what I’ve already achieved. That’s why I decided to focus on the positives and create a Reverse Bucket List.

My Reverse Bucket List

1) Climbed Kilimanjaro

I didn’t train properly and was one of the least fit in the group but I summited, puked behind a rock and made life-long friends.

2) Ran the New York Marathon… Twice

Ever since my first half marathon when I was 21 (which I ran hungover), I wanted to run the New York City Marathon. I applied for 7 years until I finally got in. Of course, I got injured a few months before on a hiking trip in Tasmania (as you do) so I was dangerously undertrained, but I met someone with a worse injury than me and we somehow survived. The second time, I injured myself again eight weeks before the race but still ran, walked and hobbled my way through.

3) Ran the London Marathon

I never actually intended to do this marathon. I signed up assuming I’d never actually get in. Once again, I was undertrained (there’s a pattern here). I spent the weeks leading up to it praying that it would miraculously get cancelled. It didn’t. I turned up on the day with my game-face on and ran every step of the way. It was the best day of my life.

4) Moved to Australia

When I was 18, I visited Australia as part of a volunteer program. I remember thinking: “I’d love to live in Sydney one day”. 10 years later, I just did it. I left without much money and no real plan. Four years later, I’m still here… with no real plan.

5) Lived in London

I always wanted to live in London. Bursting with culture, it felt like a second home. Moving there at 23 was when I first felt like a proper adult.

6) Worked on a big US TV show

Growing up I watched lots of American shows and was particularly obsessed with Friends. Aged 21, I started working in television production and saw a show called Episodes written by the creators of Friends, starring Matt Le Blanc. I thought, “Wow, I’d love to work on that”. Two years later – I was. It was the hardest shoot I ever worked on but I’m immensely proud to have ticked it off my list.

7) Sky dived, bungee jumped and did a canyon swing (not all at once)

Self-explanatory really.

8) Abseiled down a Skyscraper

For some unknown reason, I wore a blue dragon onesie… so now there’s actual footage of me dangling off the side of a building with a blue camel toe from the bit-too-snug harness. You’re welcome, Earth.

9) Became a writer

I’ve wanted to be a writer for most of my adult life but I never had the confidence to go for it. Last year, I quit my job and pursued my dream…. So far I’m still managing to pay my rent!

10) Performed on the West End stage

Embarrassingly, I was a child actress (only in Wales, don’t get too excited). And up until the age of 18, I wanted to continue acting when I grew up. So when I was given an opportunity to perform with the West End cast of Les Miserables for the 20th anniversary aged 17, I was on top of the world. I thought to myself “even if I don’t make it as an actress, I’ve performed in the West End”. I didn’t make it as an actress. I didn’t even try. But that night was amazing.

11) Sang at the Millennium Stadium

The Welsh love their rugby and the Millennium Stadium is essentially our Mecca. Singing on the pitch before a match there was awesome.

12) Went to Vegas… twice

I went, I drank, I made some bad decisions… and for some idiotic reason I went back.

13) Had meetings in Hollywood

When I’d just started out in Film & TV, a family friend who had made a decent career in the industry was kind enough to take me on one of his work trips to LA. I saw all the sights. Not Hollywood Boulevard or celebrity houses… but meeting rooms in Disney’s headquarters and a producer’s office at Warner Bros. Boring to anybody else but to me, it was heaven.

14) Met Ross Noble

I was lucky enough to work on a pilot with my favourite comedian of all time. It was the only time in my 5 year TV career that I was star-struck.

15) Saw the Grand Canyon

I had to drag my best friend there kicking and screaming because to her, it was “just a big hole”. Obviously, once we arrived she realised what an absolute pleb she’d been. It’s truly breathtaking.

16) Taught myself to play Guitar

I’m pretty crap, but it makes me happy.

17) Travelled alone in South America

Particularly daunting as I don’t speak a word of Spanish (unless you count Reggaeton lyrics).

18) Volunteered for Make a Wish

I was lucky enough to volunteer at a princess tea party for a young girl in Sydney’s botanical gardens. It was both heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once.

19) Climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Lovely view.

20) Put a rapist behind bars

I was training for one of my marathons (I actually do train for some of them) when a guy groped my bum as he rode past on a bike. I reported it to the police just in case it was useful for another case. It was. He was a previously convicted rapist who had recently attacked other girls (far worse than what he’d done to me). They were pressing charges against him for sexual assault and needed me to testify in court. He was convicted and sent to prison. It was without a doubt the worst thing I’ve ever experienced but knowing that it probably saved at least one person from getting hurt is something I’m very proud of.

21) Went White Water Rafting and Canyoning in New Zealand

Always fancied it, finally did it… it was awesome.

22) Went on an African Safari

Same as above.

23) Made friends from all over the world

I always wanted my life to be influenced by different cultures, languages and experiences. I looked around the table whilst drinking at my local pub recently and suddenly realised that I’d done it. I was actually living the life I’ve always wanted to live. It was a very satisfying realisation.

24) Became an Aunt

I had absolutely nothing to do with this one but it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me and I couldn’t resist talking about my one year old niece in yet another article.

So…

The point of this exercise was to illustrate how much we experience and just brush off as ‘nothing’.

I was convinced that I’d accomplished so little compared to my Facebook friends. It wasn’t until I put it all down on paper that I thought (cheesy as it sounds): “Wow, I’ve lived!”

So do me (and you) a favour… write down some things you’re proud of. Chuck it on your fridge, save it on your phone or never look at it again. My point is, spend a few minutes focusing on your personal accomplishments. They might mean nothing to the rest of the world, but if they’re significant to you, they’re worth celebrating.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

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