Letter from my bucket list

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Julia Koh/The Occidental

Feb. 3, 2015, my 15-year-old self listed 17 of her wildest dreams in her black “Live, Laugh Love” journal. The first item on my bucket list was, of course, “Meet One Direction.” Some of the other ones included traveling the world, writing a book and publishing it and visiting fashion week in NYC. At the time, these were all things I imagined an older and cooler Serena would be able to do.

Funny enough, these things are still on my bucket list. And six years later, I have realized there will never be a right time to cross things off this list. I have wasted too much time waiting to meet One Direction and traveling the world. This list should not be something to wait a lifetime for the right time, because you will never get the right time. We can create a lifetime of excuses of why we cannot take that dream trip next week. We will never fulfill these fantastical dreams if we don’t take the time to make them happen.

I would have never guessed that a pandemic would have postponed my bucket list plans. However, COVID-19 is not my first or last excuse of why I have not completed more bucket list items. I have always told myself that it was never the “right time.” I constantly hear and also refer to the phrase “when COVID is over.”

But was I really living to the fullest before COVID?

I once sang at a karaoke place in Denmark, which definitely crosses off one of my bucket list items. I now envy this time because of how visceral that experience was. If I knew there would be a pandemic for at least a year, I would have lived my days more fully by pursuing more items on my bucket list.

Going to college was a dream of mine, something I could have had on my bucket list. While over a year of COVID-19 has stopped me from living some of the senior year experiences, it has brought life experiences I would have never had otherwise. I would not have spent as much time learning about my Armenian community, spending time with my family and playing with my new dog. Even though I have grown significantly as a person during this time, I wish I did not wait until senior year, or the “right time,” to do what I loved. If I knew a pandemic would put the world on pause for at least a year, I would have hung out with friends instead of staying in and doing an extra assignment and jumped into Gilman Fountain when it was operating.

Early this year, my close family friend Uncle Mark passed away, but he lived his life to the fullest and inspired me to do the same.

Uncle Mark loved life and checked things off his bucket list all the time, not only when he felt like he had to. He worked his life building his successful business in cosmetics, making his products well-known in the industry. One of Uncle Mark’s goals was to travel around the world, and he did just that. At his funeral service, one of his family members said that he went to more than 150 countries. When he traveled to these countries, he was sure to get a snow globe from each place. Toward the end of his life, he donated them to children’s hospitals all over the world through his foundation called Snow Globes and Smiles. He fulfilled these dreams as realities, not just fantasies. There was never going to be a “right time,” so Uncle Mark simply did all the things that excited him.

But these things were not as grandiose as traveling all over the world. Before he passed, Uncle Mark made sure to take a road trip to a drive-through in another state that would bring ribs to your car, another item on his bucket list. He constantly made his bucket list dreams come to life because he didn’t take time for granted.

A new page to fit more bucket list items: starting my own organization, visiting my Motherland Armenia and seeing the northern lights. While these are big goals, they are very possible to accomplish by working on my plans for a future organization, starting to learn how to ride a bike and even traveling to more local destinations. When COVID-19 is over, I will be sure to immediately plan my trip to the northern lights and figure out how to get my favorite boy band together again for a concert. I’ll be sure to have those checked off the list too.

I dedicate this piece to Uncle Mark, who would have been the first to read this piece, as he would eagerly ask me to email him every article I wrote. Write your bucket list and remind yourself to do it now, because you’re not waiting for anything. You never know if a pandemic will take over the world or not.