If I never have to read another listicle, essay, manifesto on why college grads need to IMMEDIATELY sling a satchel over their shoulder and adventure their way through every hostel they can find, it will be too soon. Is travel rewarding? Of course. There’s no disputing that. And if you have the opportunity to jet set and learn about different cultures firsthand, that’s awesome. But not everyone likes traveling (despite what Tumblr wants you to believe). If you don’t spend your early 20s going all Around The World In 80 Days, it doesn’t mean you aren’t living life to the fullest. It just means your passport doesn’t have cute stamps.
2. Seriously date.
Sharing a life with someone is the best feeling. But forcing yourself to get there just because you’re “supposed to” is not fulfilling. Life isn’t meant to be a race to see who can get to certain “milestones” first. So what if it seems like everyone around you is getting engaged? Good for them. You do you, and the rest will figure itself out along the way.
3. Casually date.
Okay, let’s say you did find someone you want to spend your life with. Now you’ll have to deal with a chorus of people telling you that you’re too young. Or that you still need to date around, see what’s out there. Yes, you are going to grow and change as you age. But that’s a constant in life. You don’t need to be single just for the sake of it. If you’ve found someone special, that’s a beautiful thing. Don’t let it go because of other people’s opinions.
I don’t mean this in any shame-y way because I, in fact, do drink. I enjoy going out to the bar with my friends, or getting a little red-faced with girlfriends as we (embarrassingly) watch The Bachelor with a bottle of vino. BUT you don’t have to drink. College almost seems synonymous with partying, which actually isn’t even accurate. I didn’t drink until I turned 21 and I always had fun. Everything seems to glamorize early 20s as this time to be a hot mess with the people you love. Hungover? It’s fine, you’re young! Drunk text your ex? It’s fine, you’re young. And sure, those things sometimes happen. But maybe that’s not your scene, and that’s okay! You don’t need to get wasted to enjoy your youth. Don’t let anyone force you into something you’re not comfortable doing.
5. Have a ton of friends.
This is a PSA to Taylor Swift: having that many friends is A) not normal B) not normal and C) a lie??? Having a few people you really love and trust will always beat out having #squadgoals. Your 20s are a time of rebirth and discovery. You’ll likely lose touch with some people you used to be really close with. It’s something that happens in life. Those who are meant to stay will, so don’t sweat not having a ton of names on your friendship roster.
6. Have your own place.
Unless you either scored a high-paying job right out of school, or are a trust fund baby, it’s highly unlikely you’re financially ready to be on your own. If you have the opportunity, definitely consider moving back in with your family to save a little dough while you start working. There’s a stigma attached to it, like it’s a failure, but if it can prevent going into debt, I’d say you definitely are winning that situation. If moving home isn’t an option, go in on something with a roommate (or maybe a few). It’s delicious to dream about having an apartment all to yourself one day, and you probably will! But there’s no point in overpaying for something when you’re just starting out. Your savings account will thank you later.
7. Be in the same space as your peers.
This holds true for most ages. Get rid of the toxic keeping up with the Joneses mentality. Being inspired by people can be great and productive. But constantly comparing yourself? Bad recipe. Only one person can figure out your path, and that’s you. Don’t get too distracted looking at where others are going. You’ve got to look forward in your own direction.
8. Know EXACTLY what you want to do.
Your passions will evolve. Your dreams will get revised. Sometimes, you’ll have no f*cking clue what you want. And all of that is incredibly normal. Majoring in something doesn’t mean you have to work in that field. Having an entry-level job somewhere doesn’t mean that’s the career path you’re stuck with forever. You’ll constantly be learning about what you like, what you don’t, what you can handle, what you can’t. It takes time. You’re allowed that time.