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Twenty-five by 25

Posted: November 21, 2013 1:00 p.m.
Updated: November 22, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Several months ago one of my Facebook friends posted an article called “25 Things To Do Before You Turn 25,” by Stephanie Georgopulos.

It was a cute list when I read it in late spring, but I decided to revisit the list recently, as I’ll turn a quarter of a century in December. The list can be seen as petty/shallow/naive in a lot of regards if you read it literally (please don’t take every suggestion on the list literally), but if you sit with her suggestions for a little while, it’s pretty easy to uncover some deeper meaning. One of the suggestions is to “Suck it up and buy a Macbook Pro,” for example, which, admittedly, is on my birthday wish list, but isn’t a necessity. I interpret that particular suggestion as invest in what you really want instead of wasting time, money, energy on something that will get you by but simply isn’t what you truly desire. No. 2 on the list, as another example, isn’t practical for everyone or anyone, so I tucked away the second part of the suggestion: don’t worry or over-think seemingly trivial things.

The “to do” list kind of puts things in perspective, though, if you let it ruminate. Growing up is hard work when you think about it -- there are a lot of insecurities you have to face along the way -- and I surely don’t want to be struggling with the same things that I am now when I’m 40. Balance already seems like an ideal in many respects. There is so much “grown up” stuff that I don’t want to deal with for fear that I won’t be able to keep up with it all, but you live and you learn I suppose. That’s where my love for all things minimal kicks in. As I get older, the less stuff I want I to deal with. I’m sure I’ll fall prey to the natural emotion called envy a time or two in my lifetime, but for the most part I don’t want any unnecessary stuff. That’s the cool thing about growing up, you figure out what’s necessary and what’s not for yourself without less outside influence. All of that falls down to personal responsibility, though, and that’s the hardest thing to fess up to, especially when we’ve lost track of things.

Here’s Georgopulos’s list via Thought Catalog; I’m sure there are people of various ages who can take something from it even though it’s aimed at 20-somethings:

1. Make peace with your parents. Whether you finally recognize that they actually have your best interests in mind or you forgive them for being flawed human beings, you can’t happily enter adulthood with that familial brand of resentment.

2. Kiss someone you think is out of your league; kiss models and med students and entrepreneurs with part-time lives in Dubai and don’t worry about if they’re going to call you afterward.

3. Minimize your passivity.

4. Work a service job to gain some understanding of how tipping works, how to keep your cool around (jerks), how a few kind words can change someone’s day.

5. Recognize freedom as a 5:30 a.m. trip to the diner with a bunch of strangers you’ve just met.

6. Try not to beat yourself up over having obtained a “useless” Bachelor’s Degree. Debt is hell, and things didn’t pan out quite like you expected, but you did get to go to college, and having a degree isn’t the worst thing in the world to have. We will figure this mess out, I think, probably; the point is you’re not worthless just because there hasn’t been an immediate pay off for going to school. Be patient, work with what you have, and remember that a lot of us are in this together.

7. If you’re employed in any capacity, open a savings account. You never know when you might be unemployed or in desperate need of getting away for a few days. Even $10 a week is $520 more a year than you would’ve had otherwise.

8. Make a habit of going outside, enjoying the light, relearning your friends, forgetting the internet.

9. Go on a four-day, brunch-fueled bender.

10. Start a relationship with your crush by telling them that you want them. Directly. Like, look them in the face and say it to them. Say, I want you. I want to be with you.

11. Learn to say “no” -- to yourself. Don’t keep wearing high heels if you hate them; don’t keep smoking if you’re disgusted by the way you smell the morning after; stop wasting entire days on your couch if you’re going to complain about missing the sun.

12. Take time to revisit the places that made you who you are: the apartment you grew up in, your middle school, your hometown. These places may or may not be here forever; you definitely won’t be.

13. Find a hobby that makes being alone feel lovely and empowering and like something to look forward to.

14. Think you know yourself until you meet someone better than you.

15. Forget who you are, what your priorities are, and how a person should be.

16. Identify your fears and instead of letting them dictate your every move, find and talk to people who have overcome them. Don’t settle for experiencing .000002 percent of what the world has to offer because you’re afraid of getting on a plane.

17. Make a habit of cleaning up and letting go. Just because it fit at one point doesn’t mean you need to keep it forever -- whether “it” is your favorite pair of pants or your ex.

18. Stop hating yourself.

19. Go out and watch that movie, read that book, listen to that band you already lied about watching, reading, listening to.

20. Take advantage of health insurance while you have it.

21. Make a habit of telling people how you feel, whether it means writing a gushing fan-girl email to someone whose work you love or telling your boss why you deserve a raise.

22. Date someone who says “I love you” first.

23. Leave the country under the premise of “finding yourself.” This will be unsuccessful. Places do not change people. Instead, do a lot of solo drinking, read a lot of books … and come home when you start to miss it.

24. Suck it up and buy a Macbook Pro.

25. Quit that job that’s making you miserable, end the relationship that makes you act like a lunatic, lose the friend whose sole purpose in life is making you feel like you’re perpetually on the verge of vomiting. You’re young, you’re resilient, there are other jobs and relationships and friends if you’re patient and open.

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