1. Learn how to cook.
And no, Ramen doesn’t count. Cooking for yourself is literally the best. You get to eat what you want, when you want. It’s way cheaper AND healthier than eating out. And of course it impresses friends AND potential romantic conquests. It’s really not that hard. No excuses, so here are some recipes to get you started.
2. It’s never too early to get your finances in order.
You may be all like “YOLO” because retirement is so far away, but remember our generation is fucked and no one wants to help us out. SO LEARN TO HELP YOURSELF. That means setting up savings, a rainy day fund, maybe even a Roth IRA. If you don’t know what those are, Google it. Seriously, 70-year-old you is going to REALLY appreciate the foresight 23-year-old you had.
3. Update your resume.
Employers will glance at your resume for like, 30 seconds, IF THAT, so you better slay on your resume. And a boring old resume just isn’t going to cut it anymore, so upgrade your resume game. If you ARE employed, it’s just good practice to keep a fresh, updated version — you don’t know when you’ll have to have your most current resume at the ready.
4. Learn some basic life skills.
Aside from cooking, you should learn basic life skills (like changing a tire) or at the VERY least Google how to fix stuff before you pay to have a professional do it. You’ll often find you can do it yourself, and save money in the process. PLUS you’ll feel like a badass in the process. But also remember you really don’t want to screw something up and cause more damage too!
And besides the obvious reasons of being a do-gooder. It’s actually good for you too. It’s healthy for your mind and body, it’s a great way to make friends, and also it’s a GREAT way to learn more about the community you live in. Cut out an hour or two of Netflix time every week, get on your ass and give back.
6. It’s OK to make dating and sex mistakes.
You’ll have to kiss (and probably do a little more than kissing) a lot of frogs before you find your prince, so stop feeling bad about bad dates or one-night stands. Having sex is a normal human function like sleeping and burping, so stop feeling bad about having it! And when it comes to dates, know that there is a match out there for you, you’ll just have to do some digging. Now go forth!
7. That being said, always use protection.
I mean, duh. You don’t want an oops baby, and you definitely don’t want any STDs. In this way, you’re a real adult now. BE RESPONSIBLE. Sex is fun, but babies and the clap are not.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
You’ll never have all the answers. But someone else will have some of them. Nobody expects you to do all of this on your own…and you shouldn’t expect that of yourself, either. Be willing to listen to advice, and someday you’ll be ready to give out your own.
9. And start treating your body like a temple, not a frat house.
3 a.m. drunk pizza is fun and all, and you shouldn’t TOTALLY cut it out, but seriously consider upping your nutrition game AND hitting the gym. Don’t have a membership? Then start running or doing yoga. And remember what you eat is 90% of the battle. You’ll feel AND look better, and it’ll improve your dance moves for when you go clubbing on Saturdays.
10. Now is the time to move away from home.
Seriously, this is the time in your life when you’ll have the least amount of shit tying you down. You don’t have kids, your family isn’t tying you down and may be pretty flexible relationship-wise; also, your career is young enough that you don’t have a job tying you down THAT much. So if you’ve ever wanted to live anywhere — the city, the country, WHATEVER — seriously consider making that move now. Where there is a will, there is a way.
11. But crashing with the ‘rents is also a pretty good move too.
OK, so living with Mom and Dad may not be the sexy, glamorous move, but it makes sense on many levels. You’ll be saving a TON of money — rent is expensive, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to enjoy some of mom’s cooking. But on a more serious note, you’ll be living with your parents as an adult for the first time, which will allow you to connect with them in a different way than ever before. So yes, say goodbye to adult sleepovers for a little while. It’s a small sacrifice to pay when you get to spend some quality time with Mom and Pop.
12. Get tested.
If you’re sexually active, it’s just a basic common courtesy to your partner(s) AND yourself. Seriously, do it — and there are probably services that will do it FO FREE wherever you live. #blessed
13. Network, network, network.
This includes when you have a job! Networking is very often complete bullshit, but think of it like dating but for your career. You never know where you will catch a break, and sometimes it will be in the most unlikely of places. Whether it is going out for drinks with someone who is in your desired field of employment or hitting a career fair, learn to get out there and SELL yourself.
14. And don’t be afraid to ask for help.
You would be pretty willing to help out your friends if they needed you, right? Well they’re just as willing for you! Life can get hard sometimes. Like, really hard. And when it gets hard, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Strength is in asking for help when you know you need it. Can’t afford a plane ticket home? It’s OK to ask Mom and Dad for some help on that. Know someone who works at your favorite company? Ask them if you they can help get your resume in. The worst they can say is no, and the most they can say can be life-changing at best, or even can just turn a bad day into a good one.
15. Remind yourself every day that you are never above ANYTHING.
This is so, so crucial, especially when you are job hunting. If there is one thing our generation is constantly criticized for, it is our sense of entitlement. FIGHT THIS STEREOTYPE. Remember that as a young hire, probably fresh out of college, you are fairly disposable and don’t need to be pandered to. Whether it is making a coffee run for the boss or taking a temporary job you don’t like to keep afloat, expect to do some grunt work — and maybe build some character, a la Cinderella, in the process. This of course will make you that much more of an impressive candidate for future jobs!
16. You will probably live paycheck to paycheck at some point, but IT WILL GET BETTER.
By the law of averages, you are bound to have a few shitty days a year. You might get into a car accident, or you might be SUPER late to work and get in trouble, or you will get sick and have to miss a fun night out. This usually is less of a reflection on you than it is of how life will be throwing you a curveball every now and then. Just remember to go with the flow, and remind yourself that tomorrow is a blank slate.
17. Spend way less time on social media.
Seriously, what do you *ACTUALLY* get out of Facebook and Instagram? Probably a lot of envy of everyone else. Yes, social media is a great way to stay in touch with faraway friends and family. But they also are an unnecessary time suck and they ALSO set unrealistic expectations of what real life should be like in your early twenties. All those vacations, nights out, and expensive purchases that people are uploading and sharing are real in the sense they exist, but are so, so fake in that they are most definitely NOT the norm. It’s just not healthy to be judging your life against someone’s Instagram account, ya know?
18. Make your damn bed.
Admiral William McRaven listed making your bed as one of his 10 tips for success in his commencement address he gave at Texas this year — and you should listen, because this is the man who organized the mission that took down Osama Bin Laden. Making your bed gets you off on the right foot at the beginning of your day, setting a pattern of achievement that you can follow the rest of your day. It provides a small sense of pride and accomplishment that will snowball throughout the day. And if your day doesn’t go so hot, at least you have a nice, clean, pristine bed awaiting you at home. On that note, you probably should also consider cleaning your sheets…
19. Get a job, even if it’s not your dream job at first.
Sometimes you gotta work your way up. So while you’re spending your days at the job that doesn’t fulfill you, just remember that you’re working towards your goal. Everything you do is a resume builder and it puts you one step closer to the job that is less of a job and more of a lifestyle.
20. Don’t be afraid to move away from that “college lifestyle.”
College was great, right? Really, it was. And even we sometimes don’t want to admit that it’s over…it’s OK. College will only be known as the best time of your life if you let it. The world is now your oyster and it’s your time to do whatever the hell you want. So let go of the late night EasyMac and get ready to drink up the real world like it’s iced coffee after an all-nighter.
21. You’re going to be jealous of some people.
Repeat after me: Jealousy is inevitable. But here’s the thing, jealousy is also pointless. It doesn’t matter how successful the girl from your Soc class seems to be doing, that in no way takes away from your own success. Remember that it’s not always as good as it seems and at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. It matters what YOU are doing. You’re only in control of one life…and it’s your own.
22. But also, you’re still really young, so you can still be a little messy.
Don’t feel like doing laundry? Don’t wanna change out of the same clothes you wore all weekend? Don’t wanna do the dishes? Don’t wanna eat off a plate? Then, by all means, don’t. Just absolutely do not do it. You’re allowed to be lazy and messy and a little immature. It’s your damn right. Take advantage of it every once in a while.
23. And most importantly, know where you’re going.
Goals are fantastic. We’re not saying you need to have every aspect of your life planned out for the next 10 years, because, no. But we ARE saying that having some sort of plan and having goals for yourself is SO important. Life is happening right now. As you are reading this. Time is precious. So what are you going to do with yours?