Nice Girls Don’t Have Bucket Lists

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Nice Girls Don’t Have Bucket Lists

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?.” – Marianne Williamson.

 “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Ananis Nin

To say I despise bucket lists would be an understatement.  For years, I refused to even consider making one. Maybe it’s the fact that everyone and their aunt’s mother’s brother has one. Maybe it’s the fact they all contain the same trite items.  I don’t know. The whole thing just bothers me, a lot. It feels insincere and inauthentic. It feels wrong.

Does everyone really want to skydive? I know hurling myself out of an perfectly good aircraft has no appeal to me. Then there’s running a marathon which I’d be willing to bet shows up on ninety percent of all bucket lists made. Why bother? Anything over ten miles is more an exercise in proper hydration and fueling.

With all this swirling in my mind, I sat down about two years ago and began making what I decided to call a “dream list.” Yes, I thought I was being clever by giving it another name. Any-who…my intention was to only populate it with things that I really cared about accomplishing. That way it wouldn’t turn into another sucky bucket list.

Occasionally over the past two years, I’ve taken it out and “dreams” were added and deleted. Each time I just felt really uncomfortable with the whole stupid process. For goodness sake, I was raised to eat my feelings and run from my dreams. I was not raised to make lists of super cool stuff I wanted to do, and I definitely wasn’t raised to talk about it.

So, while I resisted the overwhelming urge to dig a big hole in which to bury myself, I had to ask why I was so afraid. After some serious contemplation, I realized I have some firmly held beliefs at my core that are feeding my deep-seated fears.

I realized I believe that nice girls are practical and do what is expected of them and they like it or else.  I realized I believe nice girls don’t have dreams; they don’t want things. Wanting things is just plain greedy. Nice girls aren’t greedy.

Mostly, I realized I believe nice girls must remain hidden. We have to stay small. I also realized I just don’t think I really deserve awesome or wonderful or great. Nice girls take average and ordinary and they’re o.k. with that. God forbid I not be a nice girl.

But I also realized that by being a nice girl, I’m allowing my dreams, my life, to slip away.

So, I’m pulling out the old dream list and brushing it off. I’m taking a deep breath, searching my soul, and writing down every single thing I’ve ever wanted to do. To the average and everyday goals, I’m adding every crazy, insane, over the top thing I can conjure. I’m weighing each carefully, editing thoughtfully, and making sure that what’s left is stuff that really resonates with me.

I’m doing this for me and at some point, I will publish it. Laugh if you will. Bottom line, I have the right to be seen and heard. I have the right to succeed. Most of all, I have the right to have awesome and wonderful and great.

I’m also doing this for my kids. I talk to them all the time about living great, big, giant lives. I encourage them to search their souls for what lights them up and to walk to the beat of their own drum. Talk is cheap. The best way to lead is always from the front.

And no, I still have no desire to jump from a plane. I am; however, reconsidering the marathon. It is my list after all.


  1. Denise, the way you identify and question things that hold you (and me) back is awesome and wonderful and great. Thank you.

  2. Love this post, Denise. The rebel in me rejects all the popular trends like bucket lists and vision boards and, yes, I’ll say it, yoga. LOL But I’m beginning to see that there are, indeed, things I want to do before I die. They don’t include jumping out of planes or running marathons. (My body is enjoying the less driven approach to care and nourishment that I adopted later in life.) They DO, however, include vision and sometimes I even enjoy creating that vision in a tangible form, even a board! I can’t wait to see your list in whatever form it takes.

    • We all have to find our own way to set our intention and move towards it. Once I realized that I didn’t have to follow the crowd and could do it my own way it just started feeling better and right, too. I like that you’re open to trying new things as I am too but we have to stick with what works best for us.

  3. I think that you and I were raised by the same mom! It took me a long time to understand how my mother could push me to do great things with one hand while at the same time holding me back with the other. As an adult I understand that she was trying to protect me from failure and from getting hurt by life. It’s so hard to change those long-held beliefs.

    I sort of have a “bucket list”. Skydiving isn’t on the list either. Maybe.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. It makes me feel better to know that someone else is struggling with their greatness, just like me .

    • It’s not just our mother’s, it’s society at large that challenges us to reach for the stars while at the same time pushing us into our “place.” I keep hearing the quote, “Well-behaved women seldom make history,” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. The same can be said for men. I’m starting to understand that being nice or good or well-behaved is highly overrated for all of us. It’s the women and men willing to be outliers who have the interesting lives. Here’s to an interesting life.

  4. My bucket list is less about things I want to do, than Peace I want to find. I was raised by a good catholic mom, and an outspoken, civil rights/political activist father. Mom taught me to keep it quiet and dad taught me to speak out against injustice. I find that I am seemingly well liked at first, but then when I speak my mind I am “trouble.” And the whole time I worry and wonder what people are thinking of me.

    Bucket list: Raise two daughters who don’t do that.

    I don’t want to be trouble, I do want to be honest, I have to live with my conscience and i want to be respected….problem is when you are honest you get disrespect in return in todays socitey. I never imagined at the age of 47 that I would find myself criticized and critiqued at every turn. From aquaintences, co workers, friends, and my kids. It seems that conversation in today’s society now means calling others out on their bad behavior while ignoring your own. I don’t have a voice, my opinion and desires are less than others, perhaps because I voice them less, I let it go, I turn a cheek. SO there I am caught between the nice girl and the trouble maker, and I’m not comfortable or happy in either place.

    • There could be no better bucket list item then raising daughters that who speak up and speak there mind and aren’t concerned with what others think. Like I said, talk is cheap. The best way to lead and be an example for our children is by modeling the behavior we hope we see in them. Your father did this for you and you are doing it for your daughters every time you say what you need to say.

      If the people around you are judging you for being honest, then they aren’t your people. Find new ones. I have discovered that by surrounding myself with like-minded individuals who fully support me makes it a lot easier to deal with the ones that just want me to sit down and shut up. People who genuinely care about you, will accept even if they don’t always agree with your position.

      I hope you stay the course and just keep being the daughter your father raised you to be.

  5. Ha! This is awesome! I so get you! I started making a list LONG before lists were cool and normal and everybody’s got one. I’ve had lists since 1998. I never called it a bucket list. I hate that name. I call mine an Enrich My life List. Or Just “The list” for short. 😉 I have things like “help build a school” and “join the mile high club” on mine. visit all of the continents, see all the natural wonders of the world.

    No marathon running for this girl.
    No skydiving. that’s just dumb. I’d rather get to a destination in a plane than land on something hard jumping out of one. So I hear you on that one.

    But the list is magic. The list is what makes life exciting. Well, not really, but the list is just a catalyst for all things possible. AT least that’s how I view it.

    And I hear ya. If you’re not supposed to dream big, then what?

    I highly recommend a book called The Aladdin Factor by Mark Victor HAnsen. I read it in 1998. And it changed my life on dreaming. Big or small. Amazing.

    Thanks for writing this. You just reminded me how inspired I am by my own damn self. 🙂

    • Rita, I applaud your commitment to your list and your life. You are a very smart woman.

      Thanks for the book suggestion It’s on my short list. Funny thing, I made a list when I was in middle school of all the amazing things I was going to do and then over the next several years had the belief that I could actually do any of it beaten out of me. The longer I’m on this journey the more I realize that my young teen age self had her stuff together. I just need to get back to 13. It’s never too late to turn the ship around. It just get’s more difficult as we age.


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