Here’s to Being Crazy in Your Twenties

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Kate, Beth and Lisa with Ice-T and Coco

Tomorrow is my 30th birthday. I’ll be spending it in Paris, the city I love most.

I’m happy. I don’t have any hangups about entering a new decade. If anything is bugging me, it’s wondering whether girls in their twenties will find their way to this site, see my age, and dismiss me as irrelevant. It’s ridiculous, I know, but my narrative has always been that I quit my job at 26 to travel the world.

I love growing older, though. I love learning. I love doing more and more interesting things each day.

And you can’t say I haven’t lived my twenties.

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Oh my God, my twenties were awesome! The friendships, the parties, the guys, the questionable decisions that turned into hilarious stories by the next day.

To commemorate the end of my third decade on this planet, I’ve decided to share a photo and a story from each year of my twenties. I hope you enjoy them.

Age 20: Florence, Italy

Honestly, looking back at my semester in Florence, I am shocked that I survived intact. I’ll be writing about it more at a later date, but throwing a bunch of American twenty-year-olds in a city filled with student bars with binge-drinking packages (who can forget the personal champagne bottles at Faces, the student bar that smelled like puke?) was insane.

At one club — was it Faces or Space Electronica? — my roommate Jo dared me to climb the ladder to the platform that held a naked mannequin, panties dangling from its hand, and kiss the mannequin’s ass.

“Kate, I will pay you fifty f*cking euros if you do this!” Jo yelled.

That was all I needed to hear. I scampered up the ladder and kissed the mannequin as the club cheered.

Then the bouncer came through, yelling, “Dangerous!” and forced me to climb down.

Jo, I’m still waiting for my 50 euros!

Age 21: Somewhere in Connecticut

Senior week at Fairfield University, much like my semester in Florence, was devoted to drinking. One of the activities we had during senior week was a picnic out at a summer camp-like place in Connecticut, where we had drunk swimming, drunk canoe races, and a drunk pie-eating contest.

Well, the pie-eating contest was just a Vienna finger covered with whipped cream. But I ate that pie like it was nobody’s business.

Me and Vanilla Ice

Age 22: South Padre Island, Texas

VANILLA ICE.

I was visiting my friend Beth in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and we decided to go to South Padre Island for one night and have the spring break we never had.

Things definitely took a turn for the interesting when I saw a plane dragging a sign advertising a Vanilla Ice concert that night!

Beth and headed over to the concert, found a group of guys (figures, while most of the guys there were Kansas and Oklahoma frat boys, we found the Cornell engineering majors), but as soon as Vanilla Ice came out, I ran up to the front.

And then Vanilla Ice started pulling girls onto the stage with him. I didn’t wait — I hopped the barrier and climbed on stage!

For the rest of the concert, I edged myself up to Vanilla Ice and took selfie after selfie with him (remember that this was March 2007 and smartphones, Instagram and the word “selfie” didn’t even exist yet!). Beth and I definitely got the spring break we had always dreamed of!

Kate in Vegas

Age 23: Las Vegas, Nevada

You know, it was Vegas that originally derailed my plans to travel around the world earlier. After saving for travel, I began spending more and more on increasingly lavish trips to Vegas.

BUT VEGAS WAS SO WORTH IT BECAUSE IT WAS EVERYTHING I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE AND MORE!!

I love this picture. My first BIG night in Vegas. My friend and I had been partying at Tryst where I made out with a French guy and a table of older dudes fed us tequila, then went to the after-party at Drai’s, then we burst out the doors at 6:00 AM and walked back to T.I., I think we high-fived a baby in a stroller, then sat down at a $5 blackjack table and sat down to play round after round, despite being completely off our faces.

VEGAS! Really, if you’re in your twenties, go to Vegas, especially if you’re female. Don’t leave it for when you’re older. It’s a different experience.

Boston Globe Blind Date

Age 24: Boston, Massachusetts

Wow, I’m jealous of my own hair in this photo.

In early 2009, the Boston Globe magazine started a column called Dinner with Cupid — basically, they set you up on a blind date at a Boston restaurant and picked up the tab. The play-by-play would be written up in the magazine.

A blind date with an audience?! Scary. And thrilling.

I sent off my application right away. A few weeks later, I was matched. Our date was to be at Tremont 647 in the South End. I got there first. He came in a few minutes later. Phew. He was cute.

You can read the whole thing here.

Nope, we never saw each other again. We texted for a bit. I went to Vegas; he went to the Caribbean; we both had business trips. It fizzled. And I ended up dating a guy I met on the walk home for several months! But Mike and I are Facebook friends to this day. Pretty sure he reads this site. 🙂

Kate and Shot Girl in Cancun

Age 25: Cancun, Mexico

“THIS IS THE BEST BAR EVER!” I screamed. Yeah, Señor Frogs may be a cheesy spot, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t the funnest bar on the planet.

Something is always going on at Señor Frogs — you’re pulled up on stage, you are fed shots along a conga line, shot girls blow a whistle and twirl you and give your boobs a jiggle, you are thrown down a waterside and land in the lagoon, where people scream that alligators are going to get you and you scream and swim as fast as you can as people laugh hysterically.

Oh, yes, and that’s an I <3 SEX name tag for some reason.

Muay Thai Fight

Age 26: Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

When it comes to the idiotic things I’ve done in my life, this takes the top spot. On the night when my friends and I planned to go watch the stupid drunk tourists fight Muay Thai at the Reggae Bar, I actually became one of the stupid drunk tourists and joined in.

My opponent was an Australian girl who was likely descended from convicts. I asked her to go easy on me; she beat me to a pulp. It wasn’t even a contest. She mutilated me in the middle of the bar.

My left eye was bloody for three full weeks. On the plus side, I got to know a lot of Thai people better because they would gasp at the sight of my eye and ask what happened.

Crazy Viking Kate

Age 27: Shetland Islands

Up Helly Aa, the Viking festival of fire, is still the greatest festival and one of the greatest trips that I have ever experienced. Every moment of that trip was fantastic.

Wearing a fake beard and spooning myself mouthfuls of tat tie soup through the facial fuzz. Climbing cliffs in a Viking hat. Listening to the Vikings sing the Broadway show tune “Enjoy Yourself” and singing it with my friends for the next several days. Cheering as the Shetlanders chucked their flaming torches onto the perfectly lacquered Viking boat. Dancing all night long to traditional Shetland music, finally calling it a night at 8:12 AM.

Up Helly Aa makes you feel alive, no matter how old you are.

Kate and Nadine Croc Diving

Age 28: Oudtshoorn, South Africa

CROC CAGE DIVING. When I heard that this was a thing, there was no way I wasn’t getting in a cage encircled by crocodiles!

My friend Nadine and I shrieked the whole time, but especially when the crocodiles pushed their noses right into the cage! We had nothing to worry about, though. They were fairly docile, and likely tired from their latest meal. But for us, it was exhilarating.

This wasn’t my only time croc cage diving — I went on to do it a few months later in Darwin, Australia, with a much more temperamental beast.

Kate in the Finnish Sauna

Age 29: Kuhmo, Finland

Naked. Finnish saunas were naked.

I had no idea what I was doing, and I made a few faux pas — bringing my towel and a beer in — but soon I realized why the Finns do this all the time. After a long, hot sauna with several women, most of whom I would recognize performing chamber music on stage over the next few days.

It was near midnight, yet being in central Finland in July, the sky was a delicate shade of pink, edging into blue. And it was time for us naked ladies to go skinny-dipping in the lake.

I hate cold water. I take the longest to get in. But this lake was incredibly warm, and as I swam naked through the waters under that extraordinary sky, I felt completely, utterly content. The Finns really have it figured out.

I hope to carry a bit of my twenties with me for the rest of my life — the little spark of adventure that led to so many memorable moments. Happy birthday to me.

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103 thoughts on “Here’s to Being Crazy in Your Twenties”

  1. Amazing pictures that have managed to capture what are undoubtedly special moments in your life. Roll on the next 10 years, I’m sure they will have equally incredible moments 🙂

  2. Loved this post Kate! Looks like you have had an amazing 20’s. I especially loved the story about Muay Thai. On behalf of all Australian girls, sorry! 🙂

  3. Happy birthday, Kate! I’ll be turning 26 in a few months, and this made me reflect on my earlier twenties. I’ve always thought I didn’t do much in them, but looking back, I had a few laughs thinking about what pictures I would choose for each year!

  4. Whilst I’ve done some pretty amazing things in my twenties, I’m so ready to be done with them. It’s been the most insecure and emotional time of my life.
    Also, nice mermaid hair at 24.

  5. Great post Kate!!!! I only have 2 years left in my 20s! (I’m 28) and a bit dreading it but it’s ok!

    I loved that you got to swim with crocs in a cage! and PROPS for getting in the ring in Thailand and fighting. I would NEVER have the guts to do it.

    I also wanted to tel you because I’m a big fan of you, Alex, and a few other big travel bloggers – I’ve accepted a 100% telecommute job that will allow me to live/work from anywhere in the world (with internet!). I’m very excited to be a digital nomad! (It’s not full-time travel blogging but that’s ok).

    I will probably bombard you with questions and advice later (or at least in the TBS fb group). haha.

  6. Happy Birthday! This will be me in just three months or so. Like you I just keep reminding myself that I have lived the HELL out of my twenties! Excited to see what the next decade brings both of us.

  7. Happy Birthday! Your pictures are amazing…I was in love with Vanilla Ice when I was little! I was worried that I would feel old travelling (I’m soon to be 28 and just quit my job to travel Southeast Asia) but I have been pleasantly surprised by the range of people, ages, cultures, everything since I have set off. I have also been told on good authority that your 30s is the best decade 😉

  8. BRILLIANT! I love this post! And your face in the picture with Vanilla Ice is priceless.

    I couldn’t wait to turn 30. I definitely lived it up during my 20s, but your 30s are something special. You’ll see what I mean in due course 🙂

    Happy Birthday! 🙂

  9. Happy Birthday! I’m glad you had such a great time in your twenties – that makes it easier to move on to your thirties, I think. I’m only 31, but so far my 30s have been better than my 20s. I think I’m more secure in my decisions now than I was in my 20s. I enjoyed a lot of my 20s, but was also constantly plagued by anxiety over whether or not I was on the right path in life, or I was worried about money. Here’s to your 30s being another great decade for you!

  10. Happy birthday!

    When you say crazy twenties you really do mean CRAZY twenties!
    I don’t think I’d even do half the stuff you described here.
    But it seems like you had many thrilling and memorable moments and that you can look back at your twenties as an awesome time. That’s what counts in the end.
    And now up to even more memorable thirties 😉

  11. First of all, happpppy birthday! And secondly, if that’s what your twenties were about, I look forward to reading about what’s in store for your thirties! Have a lovely celebration and enjoy!

  12. Happy happy! Hope it’s a wonderful birthday in Paris. I’m now almost 35 and I have to say that while my twenties were great, my 30s have been fabulous. Here’s to many more years of adventures for you!

  13. Happy Birthday, Kate! I enjoyed this post, even if half of it was about drinking. 😛 I turned 27 in May and can’t wait for my 30’s. I feel like the 20’s are filled with so much unnecessary angst about who to be, what to do with your life, and the pressure to figure it all out. I still have a couple years left to enjoy and hope to do more traveling (Costa Rica is on my radar!) and finish school.

  14. What an amazing decade! Cheers to you and happy birthday!

    I’ve got four more years left of my 20s so this is a great reminder to live every moment of them and always remember to not take it all too seriously. Up Helly Aa and Finland seem like places I need to put on my list ASAP! 🙂

  15. That was a beautiful summary of events – you sure know how to have a good time! I am only a few years shy of 30 myself and I hope to keep living it to the fullest like you! 🙂

  16. Happy Birthday! I went to college at UNLV in Las Vegas and have a lot of crazy stories from Sin City. I agree everyone should visit in their early 20s.

  17. What an amazing decade! I think you can proudly claim the 30s, knowing there was little you left undone in your 20s. 🙂 Happy birthday to you, and may the 30s be as crazy and adventurous!

  18. My 20s haven’t been nearly as crazy… but then again I never was much of a partier! Still have 2 years to work on it, though. 😉

    Happy Going Into Your 30s, Kate!

  19. This is a great post!!! You’ll love your thirties….welcome to an amazing decade!!!!
    As a Texan, it still surprises me to hear people come from all over the country for spring break in South Padre. I didn’t think it’s infamy extended beyond state lines….

  20. Dear Adventurous Kate and fans of Kate,

    Just to reassure you, there are plenty of potential adventures foir all of you ahead, not just as you face 30, but as you rise to the challenge of 60. The times in between can be pretty confusing, but don’t give up.

    Happy 30th, Adventurous Kate

    From About to turn 60, Adventurous Cate

  21. Here’s wishing you a very very happy birthday Kate 🙂 “They” say that the thirties are always better than the twenties for you do the same crazy things you did in your twenties but with a little more wisdom 😉 Here’s to another fabulous decade (and many more)

    Cheers 🙂

  22. An amazing 10 years Kate, I hope the next 10 are equally crazy. I can’t believe you fought Muay Thai, I’m in Phuket training at a camp for a week and it’s a brutal sport!

  23. Love this post so much:) especially the high fiving a baby comment which made me snort laugh out loud and the amazing hair at age 24 that we are ALL jealous of. I feel like putting something like together with my photos and gives me hope I’ve still got time to get to where I want, and I’ve so far had a great 4 years in my 20s despite not getting there yet:) Happy birthday Kate keep up the great work & have a fab day in Paris!

  24. This post is amazing! You’re clearly the kind of girl who won’t say no to anything! And it goes to show that life’s more interesting when you live it that way! Thanks for the Señor Frogs recommendation. I’m literally about to hop on a plane to Mexico! 🙂

  25. Happy Birthday Kate. I just entered my thirties a little over a week ago, and so far it seems pretty great. With the passion and fun-loving attitude you brought to your twenties I’m sure thirties will be another fantastic decade.

  26. Looks like you definitely partied away your twenties! I am turning 32 in a couple of months and so far I have loved my 30’s – so much more confident, healthier and happier than I was in my 20’s (especially my drunken early 20’s) – hope you love your first couple of years of being in your 30’s as much as I have 🙂

  27. The festival in Shetland looks amazing! I was just in the Highlands, but it looks like I need to head back to the area for this in my life! And the boxing in Thailand?! That’s crazy, I don’t think I would have the guts to do that!

  28. Happy birthday and welcome to the thirties club! It’s just as much fun as the twenties club, only you can’t use the excuse that your in your twenties any more when you make an embarrassment of yourself.

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