holly brockwell woman of the year

I’m not going to finish my 30 before 30 list. Here’s why.

holly brockwell woman of the year

In July 2014, I wrote a list.

It was a list of 30 things I’d like to achieve before my 30th birthday in December this year. I had a year and 5 months – so much time.

At the time of writing the list, I was living in my hometown of Nottingham. I’d gone back there for a while, to be with my family and have some time away from the stuff that was going wrong for me in London. All my schoolfriends had moved away, so I didn’t know many people, and my evenings were pretty empty. I was working in a tiny marketing agency and no one wanted to hang out after work – they were mostly married or coupled up, most had kids. I needed something to keep me busy, and the list was it.

For the first few months, I raced through it. I devoured the first few books on the top 50 list, eagerly watched the films I was most excited about on the top 100.  I started singing lessons. I went to a beer festival. I booked a skydive. I was actively trying, and it was giving me so much satisfaction. It took over my life, really, because there was nothing else to fixate on. My career, my friends and my lovelife were sorely lacking at that point. I was lonely, and when I’m lonely I focus like hell.

And then everything changed.

In mudslips and landslides, everything about my life changed over that year and a half. I started writing phone reviews in the evenings while still working my full-time job (often filming review videos at 2am, having changed the time on the handset so you couldn’t tell), then got offered a full-time journalism job at ShinyShiny off the back of it. I moved back to London to work there full time, loved that job, lost that job (we all got laid off), started my own women’s tech site, founded my own business, and basically worked all the hours I could to get it off the ground.

It didn’t leave much time for the list.

I’ve been aware for quite a while that the list was becoming a burden. Not only that I didn’t have time to focus on it, but also that I didn’t really want to. I’ve learnt so much from it, and I’ll be writing a post about that sometime soon, but at this point I’ve either completed or will complete 25 of the 30 items, and I think that’s enough:

1. Watch every single one of IMDB’s top 100 films
2. Read every single book on Waterstones’ ‘50 books to read before you die’ list. Except the Bible
4. Go abroad on my own
5. Reach 10,000 Twitter followers
6. Donate *something*
7. Start and finish a course of dance lessons
8. Start and finish a course of singing lessons
9. Learn to sew
10. Throw a really amazing party and not cancel it
11. Visit Wales
12. Visit Scotland
13. Visit Ireland
15. Learn to cook 3 new dishes
16. Learn to make 3 new desserts
17. Raise £1000 for charity (I raised £4000!)
18. Have a column or article published in a physical newspaper or magazine, with my name on it (I now have a regular page in Woman & Home)
20. Learn to love beer, or at least cider
21. Learn to taste wine properly
22. Jump out of a plane
23. Be on TV
24. Go to a festival
25. Learn an instrument well enough to play the Game of Thrones theme song
26. Make a website
27. Perform in public
28. Take an entry-level lesson in something new

I’ve crossed off a couple of things that aren’t technically done yet (eg. I’m not going to Ireland ’til April, and my birthday party is in December) but they’re happening, so they’re essentially sorted.

25/30 is 83%, so I’ve got a First.

The 5 things remaining are ones I haven’t even attempted, and I’m fine with that:

3. Write the first chapter of a book.
14. Be an extra in something.
19. Learn to juggle
29. Learn/improve a language (although I’ve taken two trips to Barcelona, which improved my Spanish no end)
30. Write a comedy song

30 things I’ve done instead

Some absolutely incredible things have happened since I wrote the list. Things I would never have dreamed of putting on it. So I’m OK with the fact that I haven’t learnt to juggle, because I’ve done all this:

  1. Won Woman of the Year
  2. Visited 3 new countries (Spain, Germany, China)
  3. Visited a new continent (Asia)
  4. Became a director of my own business
  5. Became an aunty to the two best little girls in the entire world
  6. Judged a hackathon
  7. Appeared on the news talking about women in games
  8. Randomly got my face used in an app
  9. Climbed up the O2
  10. Turned down several kickass job offers because I’m busy doing my own thing
  11. Got the Daily Mail to write about Venn diagrams
  12. Got called a “Twitter phenom” by Fortune
  13. Got called a “titcow” by 8Chan
  14. Landed a regular feature in a big print publication
  15. Drank 21 shots on a night out and didn’t die (that Periscope has been very much deleted)
  16. Trained up as a charity volunteer
  17. Got a giant chocolate replica of my own face
  18. Got included in a list of “badass women
  19. Had no less than three Twitter parody accounts made of me, including one specifically for my teeth (they’ve been suspended)
  20. Appeared on This Morning (with pornstar hair)
  21. Got discussed on The Wright Stuff without them even bothering to tell me
  22. Got a sort-of apology from Matthew Wright
  23. Had an entire essay written about me by a men’s rights site
  24. Read a debate about the size of my vagina in the Daily Mail comments (#14)
  25. Talked about cows on the BBC (1:20)
  26. Guested on Jeremy Vine (the largest current affairs show in Europe, I’m told!) twice
  27. Talked on a panel about women in technology
  28. Spoke at a primary school about being a journalist
  29. Went on Women’s Hour
  30. Felt pretty bloody good about turning 30. Which, by the way, I’m going to be doing in China. I love my job.

If I ever feel the pressing need to do any of the other 5 things, I’ve got the rest of my life. It’s not a bucket list, after all – 30 is just the beginning.

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