1. You learn to speak business, no matter what your industry
You’re finally in charge of yourself. Sure, you might have a boss, but you can work on your own and do what needs to be done. As Jay-Z would have you be as your best self—you’re not a businessman; you’re a business, man. You say things like “best” in emails — there’s an added sense of professionalism, which feels somewhat sickening.
2. You don’t feel like you’re fluent, though
You spend 20 minutes trying to decide which email signature sounds right and say each one out loud like “what? ‘Regards?’ What the fuck even—”
3. You finally see the big picture
Your dreams of playing college football or being a contestant on The Voice are pretty much dead, but you finally have a decent path that you want to follow into the future—a real one that doesn’t include several detours to get wasted before finals or go “just go travel, like backpack for six months, and then come back for Coachella.”
4. You also see the even bigger picture
You’ve been out of school for a year/in the working world for a year, you realize how long it’s gonna take for you to actually get where you want to be in your career. There will be so many all-nighters and coffee and surprise morning after long happy hour hangovers between now and then, you’re actually sweating just thinking about it.
5. You don’t sweat the big stuff
$35,000+ in debt? Damn. That’s a lot. Not even gonna think about it for the next 12 years tbh, just gonna let that come out of my account and never look twice—
6. You sweat the small stuff
*card gets declined on the day your loan payment happened and you don’t have enough money to order Seamless*
“Oh what the FUC—”
7. You’re dating likeminded people
When you were younger, you kind of just went for attraction first, and then compatibility fell into place…until you broke up over Kanye West. At 23, you’re finally dating people who it’s not all shallow with from the jump. The depth is there first: you meet through work or something else you have in common and it builds from there, and it feels really right, mature even, to go that route, honestly.
8. You’re also dating people who are wildly wrong for you
Oh, weird. That person who seemed *right* is a dad? He’s how old? He was my office crush and now it feels really weird, I know nothing, I only want to meet people in bars forever. Or just Tinder, fine.
9. You judge less
Friends don’t have jobs, friends do have jobs, friends get pregnant, friends get married, friends date shitty people, friends date great people—if you’re a mature adult and a friend, you feel a certain level of indifference to all of it. You wouldn’t want them to fuck up their lives, but you also don’t feel the need to comfort them through every little fight, and you know what? They aren’t squabbling anymore either. Huh.
10. You judge even more
Oh, that’s who’s fighting: the youths outside the bar who are crying, vomiting, and yelling into their phones—oh and ugh, is she seriously trying to bum a cigarette? Ha. What a loser.
*stops watching people across the street, shuts window, and returns to couch*
11. You party and celebrate
There’s always a new job, engagement, or some other thing that someone is having to have a grown up cocktail hour-y type of nice party at their place to celebrate about. People still get drunk and it’s refreshingly fun, but there’s rarely vomit or tears. Very relaxing.
12. You don’t party, not really though, “no thanks, I think I’m busy actually—”
You become the 2014 kobe bryant of binge drinking — grizzled, don’t have as quick a first step, it’s clear your career is winding down.
13. You don’t feel the need to move on…literally
You use phrases like “go ahead and” and “shoot it over to” and they all involve intangible email actions instead of real-life movements.
14. You feel the constant push to move on…figuratively
It feels like everyone is in a rush to get married and have kids and get better jobs and get better jobs than those jobs and like, damn, “can we all just calm the fuck down? Or is it just me? It’s just me. It must be just me, oh God, what am I doing wrong? I should go for a run—”
15. You finally own some nice things
That Keurig, man. That. Keurig.
16. You still own some really useless things that make everything harder
That 2002 Volkswagen, man. That fucking 2002-ass Volkswagen that smells like crayons.
17. Your place is your place
Your space is your own. No more roommate five feet away on a Twin XL mattress—which part is the XL, exactly? Oh, right. XL hopes, broken dreams. At 23, your mattress is fit for an adult, and that in and of itself feels like an accomplishment. This is your place.
18. Your place is…a place
Your room in your parents house. Your room in an apartment that you share with three other people who still don’t *get* dish-washing. Your room that you split sometimes with your friend who’s crashing on the futon while they “look for jobs.” These are all..well, they’re places.
19. You don’t feel like you need to be in love
When you were younger, you wanted to be in love, in some pre-packaged relationship all the time—comes complete with fights, drunk texts, over-analyzing, and weirdly speculative questions about the future (“but if I did die, what would you do?”) for the whole family!
20. You do see people who feel like they need to settle
People *begin* dating for slightly different reasons, not that you’re by any means looking to settle down but when meeting someone, but it might be lurking in the back of your mind
21. You’re in a relationship…with certain things
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. You’re sick of Netflix jokes in listicles about your 20’s, but you’re the ones going to sleep next to your laptop, TV, iPhone (or Droid, shotouts to all my tech snobs! We know Apple sucks spec-wise we still want iMessage. Fuck off. Love you so much. Bless), so what do you want me to reference here? We’re all committed to our favorite things, okay? I’m dating my tempurpedic, to be honest.
22. You’ve been through some breakups…with certain things
Goodbye Stoli. Love you Vladdy. I’ll miss you, Traveler’s Club. Why, Popov? Fuck off, Grey Goose. Goodnight forever, Vodka. May we only see you in fancy moscow mules for the rest of our collective post-grad existence.
23. You’re focused on yourself, but you’re not selfish
Knowing what you want and need for yourself, and what you want and need to do for your employer, friends, and family—and being able to distinguish the former from the latter—is the best part about your 23rd year. You’re an adult. Take responsibility for yourself, cause that’s the most fulfilling, attractive thing a person can do in this world.
That and a good email signature.
A Smart 23 Year Old Idiot