1. Get married, even if you are hopelessly in love with your spouse and want nothing more than to spend the rest of your life with them. If you are on the earlier side of your 20s, you’d better not even think about getting engaged, because you’ll be “throwing your life away.”
2. Admit that what you want most in life is to settle down with someone you love, have a family, and be surrounded by children and family and the people who care about you.
3. Work a job that isn’t in the “professional” sphere, and therefore something that people feel free to be disrespectful about.
4. Actually enjoy that job, and be perfectly happy with your job not being a “career” because it allows you to pursue the other stuff that you enjoy in your free time.
5. Actively go after a job in the arts, even if the chances of you succeeding are slim, because it’s your dream in life and you know that if you don’t try it while you have the opportunity, you will never forgive yourself.
6. Decide that having kids is not something you want in your life, that you are just not the kind of person who should be a parent, and start looking at ways to ensure that you’ll never have to worry about it (such as getting your tubes tied).
7. Live in your hometown because that’s where you’re most happy, and you have a job, life, and group of friends that you really enjoy.
8. Decide that the most important thing for you is to start putting money towards your future — in things like a house, investments, or helping your family — and that this means you aren’t going to be doing a ton of traveling in your 20s.
9. Work really long hours at a job that basically eliminates you from having much of a social or romantic life, even if that’s what you want most and you are really excited at the idea of being very established in your field by 30.
10. Date a lot of different people for short periods of time, just looking for what makes you happy, not particularly trying to force anything long-term if you’re not feeling it right off the bat. (Note: This only applies to women, who will be swiftly labeled a “slut” if they engage in this behavior. Men can date around all they like.)
11. Decide that you don’t want to be in relationships of any kind, and that love/sex/everything that comes with it is just a distraction right now.
12. Go back to school a little later than usual to study something that other people perceive as “useless” or “stupid,” and which can’t immediately justify the investment of time or money to their satisfaction.
13. Not finish your studies at all, because you either don’t feel that you want to do something which requires a degree, or you can’t afford to continue taking out loans which will get that degree. (If you do choose to quit school, enjoy being looked at sideways for the rest of your life, even if you end up with a great, skilled job in a field you love.)
14. Decide you don’t really like going out and drinking, not because you have a problem with addiction, but simply because you don’t really enjoy it.
15. Decide that, for now, your “soulmate” is a best friend, and you are perfectly okay with that.
16. Make the difficult choice to separate from family members or close friends who are really bad for your mental health. (Watch as everyone constantly asks for an explanation of such a personal thing, or talks about how much of a “shame” it is that you’re not close anymore.)
17. Admit that you are having serious money problems, and that you have to move back in with your parents to just start saving 100% of what you earn until you can fully get back on your feet.
18. Decide that you want to live in a small town, and are not even remotely interested in the adventure and excitement of “big city life,” and aren’t afraid of “missing out” on “everything” the world has to offer.
19. Pursue any lifestyle that breaks the narrative of “Free, adventurous, optimistic 20s which are both full of change and adaptation, and yet conservative enough that you’re going to end up married by 30 without having been with too many people. And you’re going to want children, but not too soon, and it’s definitely not going to come at the cost of your career, which you are going to work hard at (and make a lot of money at), but which is never going to become the central focal point of your life, because you have an active social life that involves just the right mixture of going out to party and doing more ‘adult’ things.” Enjoy trying to stay within those borders.