1. Living on Reese’s Puffs, Yo on the Go, and ice cream.
In 20 years, you’re gonna look at that container of Haagen Dazs and feel it slapping onto your hips. Get your fill of Chunky Monkey now, because before you know it, your metabolism is gonna slow down along with your beer-chugging ability, and you’ll yearn for the days when “no thanks, I’m no-carbing” weren’t words you routinely muttered between tears and gasps for air.
2. Moving across country for that special-right-now someone.
Hate to break it to you, but this almost never works out. Technically. That is, the relationship almost never works out. You wind up in their town with their friends and it all feels just a little too forced and not necessarily you. But the kicker? It’s likely one of the best things that’ll ever happen to you — so when the opportunity comes, take it. You’ll learn who you are and what you’re capable of, your network becomes thousands of miles wider, and your book of experiences? That much thicker. Sure, your friends are gonna tell you “I told you so,” but you were just taking risks in the name of looove. Admirable, really. Almost noble, even.
3. Working for a cause, not a paycheck.
Joining Americorps, Teach for America, the Peace Corps, or any other similar organization may not be what your parents had in mind, but they’ll live. You may not be driving your Tesla through the mean streets of Palo Alto, but you will be helping others, doing something you believe in, and building your freshly adult character. It’s okay to bring home paychecks that make Turbotax squirm, especially when you have a damn good reason for it. And a damn good reason you have, if not the best.
4. Burning the right bridges.
It takes into your 20s to realize that some people just suck. S-U-C-K suck. It’s this decade when you realize who you want to become, the type of people you want around you, and who just makes you want to stick your two fingers in your mouth so you can pull the imaginary thumb trigger. Buh-bye, toxic friends you once shared hair ties with. Buh-bye cute guy in Bio who cheated off you anyway. It’s no longer the age of needing global acceptance and popularity…it’s the age of needing Netflix and a mediocre bottle of red wine.
5. Giving up your sturdy 9-to-5 to pursue your creativity.
If Broadway is calling, go. If the country lights of Nashville are calling, go. If chalk painting on the steps of Sacre Coeur is calling, go. You may fail, sure, but you did it. Remind me how there’s regret in that?
6. Moving abroad right outta college.
Who needs 2 years of work experience when you can get 2 years of life experience? Sure, you come back home eventually and find that your friends are all engaged and getting promotions and buying Volvos, but hey! You learned a new language, slummed it in the third world (or in the cafés of Paris, whichever), and are a certified worldly badass. A spy, maybe. You’re basically James Bond for all anybody else knows. You proved that not only could you handle a stressful work environment, you can handle a stressful life environment. Look at you go! …And if you really want, you can buy the Volvo later.
7. Spending all your money from said working abroad on travel and visiting home.
When I lived in Vietnam, I spent thousands of dollars on travel. Thousands. To places like England, Germany, Spain, France, and Italy. Whoops. Never made it to Hanoi, but I did manage to drown in gelato in Rome. Basically, living in Southeast Asia funded my European Experience 2014. And that’s okay. I could’ve saved those wads of cash and done something a little more practical, but…why? I didn’t sleep on cartoon bedsheets and get in 7 motorbike accidents for nothing and, dammit, I have concrete European memories to prove it.
8. Sticking to a relationship even when you know it’s run its course.
We all do it. And we all come out of it a little smarter and with a more refined internal search engine. Nothing to be ashamed of here, folks.
9. Firmly adhering to 3am fourth meal on a daily basis.
See point 1 above. But also, someone’s gotta support Taco Bell. If not now, when? If not you, who?
10. Letting 40-year-old lawyers buy you martinis on a Tuesday night before that exam.
There is nothing wrong with this. Let me repeat: there is nothing wrong with this. Because if you don’t do this, you’ll end up wondering what your life would’ve been like had you let those 40-year-old lawyers shower you with cosmos, and the “what if?” would’ve killed you. Kidding. You’ll never wonder that. But if you don’t let loose and disregard your better judgment from time to time, you might have some nasty pent-up energy that could turn into a poorly-timed mid-life crisis that really is just best avoided. So go get flattered, make it extra dirty, and ask the professor to retake that exam after the weekend. You’re running the long-game here; he’ll understand.
11. Joining that 90s cover band that specializes in Blink 182.
Because in 20 years, those skinny jeans and that raggedy t-shirt just aren’t going to look as cool.