If you’re looking for a list urging you to go skinny-dipping in lakes at midnight and give up microwave meals, you’re looking in the wrong place.
Instead, here’s a thought. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all stopped pressuring each other to do things at a certain age? Sure, when I was a youngster I almost certainly believed that come age 25, I’d at least have my own home and maybe even a husband that looked a little bit like Patrick Swayze (if you squinted ever so slightly), but roll forward the years and I’m still waiting.
The Media doesn’t do us any favours. There are entire newspaper articles and endless blogs dedicated to dictating what you should do and when you should do it – whether that means giving up your womb to a baby pre-35 or moving in with your partner aged 24. Then there is the contradictory advice that warns you should spend your twenties sleeping around and travelling your way across South America with strangers. Instead, here’s an alternative list of things to do before you hit the big one.
Learn how to say no
I used to say yes to everything, until I realised it wasn’t making me happy anymore. I’m not talking about anything too momentous – I’m talking about saying yes to drunken nights out when I’d rather be in my pyjamas or giving up my time for someone else when I didn’t have it to spare. Life is full of opportunities, but sometimes you just need to kick back and watch another episode of Friends.
But also learn how to say yes
Alright, I’m contradicting myself. I’m talking about those unbelievably good opportunities that you shouldn’t turn down, the moments that you’ll look back on and regret if you don’t use the affirmative. I once turned down an entry-level journalism role because I was mid-way through a PR internship and didn’t want to disappoint my employer. Do I wish I’d said yes? Of course. To use a horrible cliché, sometimes you just have to grab it with both hands.
Stop weighing yourself every day
Seriously. This is one I need to get on board with too. Focus on how you feel and what you want and how much your body can do. You’ll be too busy climbing metaphorical mountains and being great to worry about that extra half a stone you promised you’d lose by April.
Learn how to do ‘nothing’ without feeling guilty
I used to think that diving in the bath with a book the minute I got home from work was the height of laziness, as was spending all of Sunday curled up in bed or chain-watching old episodes of Gavin and Stacey. It’s ok to have moments, hours, entire days dedicated to what you want to do. I like to think I’m making up for the future when I’ll inevitably be one of those women that always has too much to do. Right now, no responsibilities.
Do it a little or a lot. It doesn’t matter whether you embark on an Amazonian adventure or journey as far as the M25 will take you; just keep finding new spaces in the world to enjoy. You don’t have to spend too much money and you don’t have to devote too much time. Endeavour to learn something new and it’ll broaden your horizons.
Stop worrying about being liked
As Jennifer Lawrence says: don’t worry about the bitches. She’s right, of course. For every person that thinks you’re the best, there’s another that probably doesn’t get your unique brand of self. With time comes the realisation that this doesn’t really matter.
Fall in love with something rather than someone
Never underestimate the importance of having a passion. It could be cooking, running, crafting or scribbling in colouring books – find what makes you happy and put aside some time for it. Browsing Facebook and eating are two hobbies that do not count.
Watch all the Harry Potter films in order
Because why wouldn’t you? If you’re looking for words of wisdom, look towards Albus Dumbledore.
Assess your spending with a spreadsheet
While it sounds boring, there’s nothing quite like the power of knowing exactly what you’re spending your hard-earned pennies on. Not only are you less likely to spend your monthly income on Starbucks, you can also save up for the good things, like lavish holidays and a bumper ASOS order.
Learn to appreciate your parent’s music taste
Learn to appreciate anything your parents do or did. As you get older, you’ll realise that they had a life before you and having lived longer, they probably know a bit more than you credit them for. Listen to their advice. Note: you don’t always have to take it.
Above all, put things into perspective
I’m a natural born worrier and it has taken years to train myself into thinking positively. Considering the worst-case scenario is needed sometimes – it means you’re thinking about risk. Worrying about everything from what you look like in the gym, to if your driving instructor likes you as a person? Not quite so healthy. Quit it and you’ll feel so much better.
What’s on your list?