My twenty-fifth birthday was almost six months ago, coincidentally around the time I broke up with my boyfriend and reentered the world of dating. While most people look down on being single, I have always seen it as an opportunity to redefine yourself without anyone or anything tying you down. For this reason, I have compiled a running list of all the ways you can feel fulfilled and happy if you’re twenty-five, single and still finding yourself. Consider this your survival guide for the twenty-something, modern woman.
1. Go out. I don’t just mean go out at night, but go anywhere at all. Take advantage of everything your city or suburb has to offer. Go to museums. Go to bookstores. Go to coffee shops. Go to all the bars. The world is your oyster.
2. Stay in. It’s just as important to have a night at home as it is to get out and be social. Even the most extraverted of extraverts need a night to themselves every once in awhile. Staying in allows you to relax, restore, and reorganize. It may feel bad to be at home while others are out and about, but sometimes you need to give your body and mind a chance to rest before your next social commitment.
3. Try new things. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. Always wanted to learn tap dancing? Take a class. Looking to improve your writing skills? Sign up for a workshop. You’re half way into your twenties now – you can afford it and you don’t have to worry about spending that money on anyone but yourself. Do something new that will make you happy because you can. That freedom alone should not be overlooked.
4. Surround yourself with people who make you happy. This is a core principal of mine, but life is too short to not spend it with people who bring you joy. It’s impossible to feel alone in the company of good friends and family who know you better than you know yourself. Sometimes you need those people to set you straight and remind you that the best medicine is a good laugh.
5. Seek out solitude. Although it’s an acquired taste, a little peace and quiet could be just what the doctor ordered. It’s easy to distract yourself when you’re with other people, but the best way to embrace your newfound singleness is to find comfort and happiness in being alone. It may feel weird at first, but trust me, you’ll learn to love it.
6. Go dining alone. The idea of eating alone at a restaurant can be daunting for many, but it’s actually quite liberating. You don’t have to awkwardly time bites in between conversation. You can eat as quickly or as slowly as you want. You can have food all over your face or in my case, in your hair, and still not have to worry about someone on the other end of the table judging you. Plus, this may seem obvious, but when you go somewhere by yourself, you get to choose the restaurant. You don’t have to succumb to anyone else’s dietary needs or restrictions. Is there anything more freeing?
7. Travel. You’re in a place now where nothing is holding you back, so take advantage and go see the world. You deserve it. I guarantee you won’t regret it because no one ever comes back from a vacation wishing they had sat at home instead. Book a round-trip ticket to somewhere you’ve never been before and don’t look back. Not just because you can, but also because you should.
8. Read more. If you don’t have the time or the desire to travel, reading a book is the ultimate escape. After a long day of work, it’s easy to come home and get sucked into the TV, but a good read will help you relax and unwind without having to stare at a screen. The pleasure of reading will take you out of your own head and give you perspective on how others see the world. Besides, sometimes the only way to write your own story is to read someone else’s first.
9. Get in shape. In the words of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” But seriously, working out can be transformative when it comes to your overall quality of life. It’s one of the quickest ways to feel happy and energized. Plus, you’re getting toned in the process, so you’ll not only feel good, but you’ll also look good. It’s a win, win situation.
10. Pamper yourself. Take a day and spend a little money on you. Whether it’s getting your nails done or splurging on a new lipstick at Sephora, you won’t regret it. Sometimes a little retail therapy can give you the superficial ego boost you need.
11. Form new friendships. You’re never too old for new friends. New friends can be great because you can share the same stories with them that your best friends have already heard a hundred times (your old friends will probably even be grateful you have a new set of ears to pawn them on). Even better, new friends will provide a fresh perspective on life that may even transform your own outlook. It’s easy not to make the effort when you already have a close circle of friends, but it is well worth the reward.
12. Reconnect with old friends. In a way, rekindling old friendships can be even better than making new ones. There’s something comforting about catching up with someone who you haven’t seen in awhile. People can change over time too, so you may even hit it off more than you did in the past. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to say hello to someone you used to know.
13. Date. I would be lying if I didn’t include dating because of course, it’s an integral part of single life. You don’t have to date constantly, but ironically it can take you out of your own head. While not every person you meet is going to be a match, it’s a great way to get practice and meet new people. Just remember not to take it all too seriously.
14. Have that third glass of wine, or whatever it is that pushes you past your limit. I’m not encouraging binge drinking, but I do think it can be beneficial to push yourself beyond what feels comfortable, as long as you’re within reason. It can be therapeutic to live life on the edge every once in awhile. In fact, it may even take the edge off, so don’t hold yourself back all the time. You’re only young once, so make sure you do it right.
15. Say yes to everything. Everyone will tell you this, but it could not be truer. Agree to an experience you never would have normally signed up for because why not? You’re young and nothing is stopping you but yourself. After all, you never know what you may find out about yourself in the process or whom you might meet. So just say yes. Do it, or you’ll never know what you’re missing.
16. Cry. We don’t tell this to each other often enough, but it’s okay to cry sometimes. Cry because he didn’t text you back. Cry because you dropped your pizza on the street and it’s 4 AM. Cry because it feels good and you’ll feel better after. It’s okay to be raw. It’s ok to be a little fragile. Sometimes we need to embrace our emotions, even the most irrational ones, in order to feel happy again. Everyday is your birthday and you can cry if you want to.
17. Throw yourself into your job. Chances are you haven’t figured out what you want to do with your life yet, and that’s ok because you’re still young. The good news is you should embrace whatever it is you’re doing now because at the very least, you can learn something new. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or volunteer for work that no one else wants to do. It will benefit you down the road, and will probably help you discover what you’re truly interested in long term.
18. Make a goal and stick to it. Sign up for a half marathon. Teach yourself a new language. Take the lead on planning your friends bachelorette party. It will give you purpose. It may be challenging at times, but will ultimately feel rewarding to follow through with an objective you set your mind on achieving. It will also give you something fun and exciting to look forward to, so don’t be afraid to have a little ambition. You might surprise yourself with what you can accomplish.
19. Embrace your crazy. We all have a crazy side and it can be fun to act on it from time to time. Do whatever it is that feels out of the ordinary. Stay out all night. Dance your heart out. Eat too much food and drink too much of everything. Don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself. Live your life to the fullest.
20. Find a mentor. If you’re feeling lost or alone, then turn to someone who’s a little older or a little wiser that may have some beneficial knowledge they can drop on you. You’re never too old to ask for advice. If anything, it’s a sign of maturity. Seek out someone with more life experiences that can guide you through challenging times and shed light on your worldview.
21. Give back. You will never feel alone when helping others. Volunteer at your local community shelter or spend a day working an event. It feels good to get involved in something beyond yourself and will remind you that there are other people out there who are in greater need of help than you are.
22. Join a club or a group. Whatever your passion is, find a group or club that shares that same interest. You don’t need a significant other to do things with when you’re part of a group that enjoys doing the same activities as you. It will be an outlet for you to keep doing what you love and is also a great way to make new friends.
23. Don’t shy away from romance. When you’re single it can be easy to hate on love, but sometimes you just have to dance with the devil. Binge watch old classic romantic comedies on Netflix. Spend a night third-wheeling your best friend and her significant other. Let yourself fantasize about your wedding day even though you’re single. It may be the emotion that scares you most, but at the end of the day, you have to look that beast in the eyes and confront it because it’s not going anywhere. Control it. Don’t let it control you.
24. Don’t forget to be happy for other people. When you’re bitter and alone, it’s natural to resent people in happy, loving relationships. Even when you try to avoid it, love is all around you (cue the Love Actually soundtrack). It’s the couple holding hands on the subway during your morning commute, or the college acquaintance that got engaged on your newsfeed. While it’s easy to compare yourself to others and feel inadequate, you have to remember that you too are happy and fortunate. Don’t envy others for what they have that you don’t, but instead focus on all the positive things in your life that you’re lucky to have, and the rest will come in time.
25. Keep doing what you love. It’s easy to get yourself down, but no matter what the circumstances are, you should never stop doing things that make you excited to get up in the morning. When you’re doing what you love, it shows in your attitude, in your skin, in your everyday approach to life. Now is the time to grab life by the balls, and there’s no better way than to throw yourself into the things that make you feel alive.