I’m not being super discriminatory today guys, this is just aimed at those of us in the young adult age group between 18 and somewhere in the twenties region – I just think that the age 19 best represents what I’m trying to say here. 19 is such an awkward age. When you’re 18 it’s awesome because it’s your first year of being legal (in most countries anyway) and it’s all new and exciting and you’re last year of school. And then you’re 19. And that’s when the whole awkward sort of an adult but sort of not stage happens.
I’m 19 so I know what I’m talking about – it’s a weird age. You’re sort of like YAY I’M AN ADULT ETC but then at the same time you’re sort of already over being an adult and having to face the world.
But, what I want to say in this post is that it’s also one of the best times in your whole life, because you have a sort of freedom that you haven’t had before and might not get in the same way again. At 19 you’re probably in your first year(s) of university, on a gap year or working in a first job. It’s the first time that you have to figure out money for yourself, probably have to work out living conditions, transport and basically everything about your future. And you’re probably going to screw up, and that’s okay. So, before this little interlude is over and people expect you to get everything right, here’s 19 things that you should do before you enter your twenties.
1. Buy yourself something that your mom always said no to – I’m talking about that magazine or that super sized chocolate bar or that fancy bath foam that she always said was unnecessary. Buy it – you deserve to experience it.
2. Go out on a Monday – yeah, you heard me, go out on the worst day to go out on. And even though the clubs will probably have really crap DJs and will be full of weird people, drag your friends with you and enjoy a completely random night out.
3. Make a meal entirely out of the first five things you find in the fridge – At some point this might not just be for fun, but out of necessity (see no.7).
4. Go out even when you have something on the next day – I don’t care if you have an exam or the early shift at work, you have to experience one night of reckless abandon where somehow knowing how screwed you are for tomorrow makes the night that much better.
5. Embrace student-y stereotypes – This might depend on what university you go to, or what country you live in, but whatever the whole ‘student thing’ is, go along with it. In Stellenbosch, it’s that you either wear full on sports clothes like you’re about to take part in the olympics, or you wear pyjamas and no shoes, because life is too short.
6. Drink in the morning – Yeah, so we’re reaching the ‘no shame’ level here, but seriously sometimes when you find that you have a long weekend after a really horrible week go find a really nice place to have a drink and have a champagne (if you can afford that) lunch with a friend because you know what, it’s about spending time with people who you care about.
7. Embrace student meals – If you’re suddenly having to cook for yourself in your own place, on a waitressing salary you might end up creating some weird meals simply because they’re cheap. Embrace those 2 minutes microwave noodles with tomato sauce. (Also see no. 3)
8. Stay at the club until it closes – These are the nights that never die (thanks, Avicii). Some of my favourite nights with friends have been the ones where we were having so much fun that we didn’t even notice the time and then suddenly we were being told that we should probably head somewhere else, which leads me to…
9. Go through a drive thru at 4am – Speaking from personal experience (cough cough cough) this is one of those things that you think probably won’t happen, and then becomes a regular thing. With my friends, if you walked through the Mc Donald’s drive thru at 2am, it was a good night.
10. Spend time with your family – Yes, I know this sounds like a given, but if you’re caught up with classes or work or travelling now, its only going to increase over the next few years and suddenly it will be like catching up with relatives you only see at Christmas instead of your own family. Go home some weekends, and if that’s not a viable option Skype is always there.
11. Dress for yourself – This is when you can figure out your own style. This is the time for you to experiment and pick out the clothes that you want to wear – not what the kids at school wore, not what your mum wanted you to wear and not what the fashion shows say you should wear – this should be about what you feel comfortable in and what you want to reflect as your own style.
12. Open a savings account – “This took a boring turn” – yes, yes, sorry. But realistically, even though you might feel like you don’t have a lot of money spare at the moment, this is also exactly the right time to save what little you have. Even if to begin with you put away R30 a month – or £5 or whatever you can afford that month – gradually that will build up into money that you can use to get yourself something useful in the future.
13. Go to a festival – I don’t want to specify what kind of festival because it depends on what kind of music or atmosphere you are into. But take a weekend, or a night, or a week and listen to your favourite bands live and have a bit of freedom in the best sense. I went to Reading Festival last year when I was in the UK and it was the best weekend ever (read about it here).
14. Get a drivers licence – Okay, confession, I am the last person to be preaching to you about this because I still don’t have mine – but I’m taking drivers lessons again so it will be fine. This is something that you should do while you can and while you don’t have too many commitments. If you don’t have one already make time to get one – it will enable you to be so much more independent and will allow you to take on so many more opportunities if you have your own transport.
15. Make friends with everyone – This is pretty important to me. I don’t mean that you have to tell everyone that you meet your life story and invite them around for coffee, what I mean is that you should treat every new person as a potentially amazing new friend. I love to hear people’s stories, and at work I luckily get to meet a lot of people from all walks of life, and all countries of the world. Because we are encouraged to engage with the customers as much as possible I get to hear their stories and where they come from, what they do for a living and sometimes you learn the most incredible things. Sometimes I think about the fact that everyone that we have ever met is linked to us in some small way and sometimes you wonder what happened to that girl who was going to America on a music scholarship or the elderly couple who came to visit their newborn grandson – make sure that those encounters mean something.
16. Keep touch with the friends you really care about – Unlike in school, it is pretty unlikely that you’re going to be seeing your friends everyday. You might have a few friends that you get to see everyday, or every week, but if you don’t get to see the friends you care about as much as you wish you could, make an effort to speak to them. Even if it’s just a whatsapp message, keep those friendships alive, because you don’t want to be scrolling through Facebook and seeing a friend’s face that you haven’t seen for years – simply because you never made the effort to keep in touch.
17. Cut out the negatives – on the topic of friends, don’t force yourself to stay friends with people just because you were friends in school, or are in the same class or work together -life is too short to be friends with people who don’t appreciate you as a person. Tyler Oakley has a pretty good and funny video about advice for starting over, so if you want you can check that out here.
18. Make bad decisions – So yes, in hindsight getting pretty drunk at a wine festival and getting home extremely early on the morning of the day I was supposed to start university was probably not my great idea in the world ever. But do you know what was? Getting pretty drunk at a wine festival and getting home extremely early on the morning of the day I was supposed to start university – It was one of the best nights of my life recently and I had ridiculous amounts of fun, and frankly I would do it again. It’s okay to make terrible decisions and wake up in the morning regretting the night before but….
19. Don’t have those regrets – Things go wrong and you make bad decisions and you say the wrong thing to the wrong people, and friendships get broken and relationships end and the world doesn’t stop turning. A friend of mine told me that she doesn’t have any regrets. At first I thought that she was being a little bit crazy but she explained that even though things went wrong you have to look at the fact that it happened, and now it’s over. It’s in the past, and you just have to let it go – think of all the amazing things that might happen tomorrow. That’s what you have to look forward to.
Do you have anything to add? And anyone who has gone through this age, do you have any advice for those of us going through it?
Let me know what you think in the comments xx