1. Volunteer. I put this first because making the world a better place should be anyone’s top priority, but it is also a useful way to meet people and have new experiences. Here’s a list of Volunteers of America’s local offices as well as the Humane Society.
2. Take walks. Explore an area you don’t know on foot. Getting lost on a joy ride can be fun, but actually wandering on foot presents a vast degree of more options. Bring a supply bag and make it a day: snack bars, a water bottle, a change of socks, and a flashlight. For the real modern adventurer, leave your phone at home. Pick a direction and just go.
3. Go to Open-Mic nights. Doesn’t matter if its comedy, music, or Afro-Futuristic slam poetry. Watching people attempt what they love is an invigorating experience, even if they suck at it.
4. Get a dog. This is somewhat tied to #2, but a dog gives you something to stare at as you adventure; think of it like a living screensaver. I suggest, however, bringing poop bags (don’t be a douche) and one of these nifty portable water bowls.
5. Join a book club. Not only does this encourage you to read more (and quit complaining about not reading as much as you did in high school), but this is absolutely one of the most sure-fire ways to meet interesting people.
6. Throw a party. Obviously, this keeps you in your house, but it opens up what other people do with their time. Encourage people to bring a friend; new people open up your social options.
7. See a movie per week. Even if you aren’t interested in the topic. Movies connect people, even if that connection is “I really fucking hate Jennifer Aniston.”
8. Don’t discriminate by age. Do not limit your social options to those within your age group. I’m not going to lecture you on the importance of listening to your elders, but they aren’t without senses of humor or interesting conversation. Plus, they tend to be less likely to bitch about their boyfriend to you.
9. The Y. The largest thing I missed about college was learning along with other people. The YMCA is an utterly cheap and fantastic way to keep this going, be it cooking or Tae Kwon Do or underwater basket weaving.
10. Stop living online. The Internet is useful and fun and intriguing but staring at a screen until you think of something new to put on it kills your daily imagination.
11. Drive in to/out of the city. Whether you live in a city or far outside of one, witnessing the distinct differences between urban, suburban, and rural areas gives you not simply a better understanding of the world but also your own ability to adapt in sudden bursts.
12. Rent a car. Whether you really enjoy driving or view it as one more step between you and life, there’s a certain thrill to pushing the pedal in a near-new car versus your stuttering jalopy. If you’re under 25, be prepared to pay a bit more.
13. Go to a shooting range. This is an odd one, especially if you fall to the left on the public debate of gun control. But there is a distinct camaraderie that comes with shooting. You can easily rent a gun at any range and it’s a cheap way to kill an afternoon (so to speak). Plus, most ranges are very friendly towards new shooters.
14. Flea markets. I’m in love with these damn things. Walk in with $10 and walk out with fresh pecans, some rusting knick-knacks, and a Bad Company LP. It’s like a mall for poor people.
15. Go to a library. Stop wasting your time at a Starbucks and enjoy a library. They are absolutely one of the best public services. Want quite literally ANY book, movie, or album? If they don’t have it, they’ll get it for you. What more could you want?
16. Go fishing. Again, this seems odd, but enjoy some new experiences. Finally understand what Ernest Hemingway was always rambling about. Even a cheap rod will do for any stream or lake, and if you’re a bit too squeamish for worms, try some fake bait or even corn kernels or cheese will get you a nice perch or a small bass.
17. Buy a bike. Biggest mistake most people make is getting a fixed-gear. You know what makes you cool? Working your ass off to conquer even the slightest hill. Ignore the Brooklynites and get a Schwinn.
18. Go to the theater. Live theater is a unique experience, especially if it’s a smaller black box theater. Find a community theater; tickets tend to be quite cheap and some will even accept a bottle of wine (for fundraisers) to a discount on tickets.
19. Go to the symphony. Like live theater, classical music is something which feels archaic for many but offers its own private joys. If you’re new to classical, here’s a fantastic TED Talk by the great Ben Zander which makes it all the more approachable.
20. Do not limit yourself. There is very little you have done or seen in this world, even if you limit yourself to your own neighborhood. Do not write off anything before you’ve tried it, short of certain drugs and extreme sports. Remember the eternal words of Harvey Danger: “If you’re bored, then you’re boring.”