Three years ago, I achieved a goal-seption– a goal within a goal– by spending Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin. To any Ireland-loving American, this sounds like the end-all-be-all of days and, in a lot of respects, it was. That day was a turning point; a dog-eared page in my story that I’ll never forget.
I owe a lot to my time in Ireland. In those four months, I found out that the independent, strong, fun-loving (and kind of crazy) girl I had always hoped to be was already inside of me. It just took traveling across the Atlantic to find her. The adventurous storyteller that had felt previously cooped up and somewhat misunderstood was finally set free.
That Saint Patrick’s Day solidified my belief that I was the person I had wanted to be all along.
As I sat in a Dublin pub, surrounded by my new friends and friendly strangers from around the world, I made a pact with me, myself, and I. I vowed that I would never let myself loose the person I was that day. She was who I wanted to be and was living the life I wanted to lead: unafraid, bold, and happy.
I cannot say that I upheld my end of this pact when I first returned to the States. To say coming home was a struggle would be an understatement. My old life fell back into place with my college graduation looming ahead of me and the “real” world staring my insecure and anxious self in the face. As I felt (and tried to fight) myself reverting to my old ways, I realized I had one thing in my arsenal– I had Saint Patrick’s Day.
I mentally marked March 17 in memoriam of the girl I was during the spring of 2015. To guarantee I didn’t let her get utterly lost in the struggles of my 20’s, I decided that Saint Patrick’s Day and the week surrounding it would be spent in a different place every year. No matter what was going on in my life, I would take a long weekend or more to celebrate myself and my dreams. Somehow, I would make every Saint Patrick’s Day special.
I’ve spent most of my Saint Patrick’s Days in Missouri. As kids, we would dye bottles of water green in celebration. I’ve come to believe this was my mom’s non-alcoholic green beer substitute for her kids. Some years we would stay close to home and go to the local St. Paddy’s Day parade, but most of my memories are in Dogtown, Saint Louis’ iconic Irish neighborhood.
Since coming back from Ireland, I have held up my end of the Saint Patrick’s Day Pact. I have successfully gone to different places and have made the day special. My first Saint Patrick’s Day after Ireland was spent in Kirksville, MO, my college town. While it wasn’t a new location per say, it was a new Saint Patrick’s Day for me. On a college senior’s budget, I took what I could get. I skipped all of my classes that day ( I’m not typically one for shenanigans, so this was quite a feat) and filled my kitchen with scones and Irish stew. I then got a haircut, and colored it for the first time ever. All of this was simply prep work for the late night ahead of me.
Saint Paddy’s Day 2016 was made truly momentous by Dukum Inn, a local bar in Kirksville, MO that hosts a weekly all-you-can-drink on Thursday nights. Thankfully, Saint Patrick’s Day land on a Thursday that year. The bar changed up their weekly deal for the holiday and featured $2.00 green beers and pints of Guinness for $3.50. Jameson shots were $3.50 as well. This lead to me tricking friends into take straight shots of Jameson, refusing to do Irish Car Bombs, and having a stereotypical– and amazing– college bar Saint Patrick’s Day.
Last year, I went back to my dad’s old stomping grounds. I’ve frequented my dad’s hometown of Utica, NY many times, but never in the spring or for Saint Patrick’s Day. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see some family and celebrate my favorite holiday simultaniously.
If you’re from the East Coast, or watch/ follow any news sources of any type, you’ll remember that the East Coast was hit with one of the biggest snowstorms it has seen in years last March. Three days before Saint Patrick’s Day to be exact. The day my flight was supposed to leave Missouri.
I remember texting my cousin, in pure Missourian naivete, assuring her that I was getting on my plane no matter what the weathermen were saying. I was getting to Utica if it killed me. Her response was simple, “You can get on the plane, but seeing as we can’t get out of our house, I don’t think we can get to you.”
After a cancelled and rescheduled flight (and a good dose of humility) I made it to Utica. It was a welcomed vacation filled with laughs and great memories. My aunt made corned beef and cabbage for the first time (something my uncle has tried to convince her to do since they got married) and I tried my first s’mores-flavored beer instead of drinking Guinness.
The last days of my trip were spent going on a mini getaway to the Maryknoll Seminary with my aunt, my cousin, and a few of our second cousins. We visited my great uncle, the priest of the family (a staple in almost every Irish household), and met missionary priests that had lived in every corner of the world.
Their stories and obvious wanderlust were so relatable to me. That weekend brought me closer to my great uncle and helped me understand the lifestyle he had lead before his retirement. It also convinced me that the travel bug is most definitely hereditary.
This year, I’m spending a whirlwind weekend in Chicago while crashing on my college friend’s couch. This adventure will be covered in more dirty details next week, but I’m more than excited by the anticipation of experiencing Saint Patrick’s Day in one of the most Irish cities in the U.S.A.
My tip is this: pick a day that’s significant to you– one that you can guarantee you’ll never forget– and mark it for a yearly adventure. These adventures don’t have to be extravagant, bank-breaking excursions every year, but by holding yourself accountable on a specific day, you’ll insure that you do something special.
Marking March 17 as a designated day for adventure and courageous behavior has been the best decision of my life. It gives me something to look forward to even when life starts to get repetitive or daunting. It’s easy to get caught up in the consistency of everyday. Getting stuck in routine can make us believe our lives are lackluster and completely void of any chance at growth and change, which just isn’t true. By marking a particular day or week for an annual adventure, you give yourself the opportunity to let go and enjoy living. You allow yourself to be the person you want to be.
Picking a particular date out of the year gives you 365 days to save up for whatever you want to plan. Mentally preparing yourself for a holiday on that day also makes it a magical force in your life. It becomes something to hope for and to be excited about.
If you convince yourself a particular day is special, it will be, no matter what happens. With a positive mindset, you’ll see the beauty in every aspect of your annual adventure, even if it’s filled with a flat tires, cancelled trains, or record-breaking snowfall. Stepping back and appreciating every twist and turn of the journey is key when you’re going on a life-changing adventure. Never forget that.
I challenge you to make your own Annual Adventure Day whether it’s a Saint Patrick’s Day Pact or just a random day significant to you. Go after the places you want to see and the memories you want to make, even if it is just once a year. Never forget that your life can be spectacular when you believe it is and you make it so. You deserve to celebrate it; to enjoy it; to experience it, however you see fit.