12 'Bucket List' Experiences That Will Finally Give Your Life Real Meaning

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woman dancing by ocean

I wrote a "Life List" awhile back, somewhere between getting diagnosed with cancer and fighting it off. The list wasn't anything special really, just something I came up with really quick to give my seemingly meaningless life some meaning.

I did a few of the things. I crossed them off my list, but I never felt connected to those tasks I had claimed to be essential to complete. They never really mattered to me.

And I begin to think about this at 20,000 feet, as I made my way back to the Pacific Northwest I had left behind only a month before. To the boy I had left behind, with my heart.

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Once again, I craved for my life to have meaning. To have a purpose. What was the point of fighting to stay alive if I wasn't going to actually live?

The world looks so different from the window view of a 747: Smaller. Less scary. The big cities just flickering lights and unrecognizable shapes. The clouds below you resemble fluffy pillows calling you back to bed.

I remember thinking that the first time I rode a plane nearly 21 years ago. Sitting on my mother's lap, looking out the window in amazement. Clouds. I am flying above the clouds, I thought. Never for a second was I scared, despite my young age. No, I was flying in every sense of the word.

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So I decided to make a real list. Something deep and meaningful and not just a task that I can cross off, but mantras and words that I can live and breathe by. A list that will help bring me back to the person I used to be, that I have struggled to find again under the weight of my struggles. 

The list:

1. Read more and remember what it feels like to get lost in the pages of a good book.

2. Yell less.

Stress less. Worry less. Breathe. Relax. Roll with the punches. It is not the end of the world.

3. Put everything into words, even the things you're scared to say.

Discover your voice and let it be heard. Be a writer.

4. Find a balance between doing what you love and being a responsible adult.

Have the best of both worlds.

5. No matter what happens, never give up on love or hide your heart.

Never let them win.

6. Become a better person.

Actively. Each and every single day. Do better. Be better. Know better.

7. See the beauty this world has to offer.

Travel. Explore. Adventure is out there.

8. Learn how to love yourself completely.

Even the parts that I wish I could change, the parts that you keep hidden from the world. 

9. Find a place to call home. 

10. Say "I love you" more to those you do not say it to enough.

Say it because you mean it.

11. Dance like nobody is watching.

Stop giving a crap Stop letting other people's opinions and judgments dictate your life. You. Only. Live. Once. So, screw them. 

12. Never stop dreaming.

Never give up on the things that I desire most. Never falter faith that it will get better.

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Emily Lingenfelser is a 20-something mom who writes and captures moments to make sense of this messy world. Follow her on Twitter.

This article was originally published at Emily Is Fearless. Reprinted with permission from the author.