On the cusp of my 30th birthday, a much younger friend asked me what I wished someone had told me about life while in my 20s as though I could somehow go back in time and do things differently. I wanted to give her the wisest advice I could give, now that I’m older, wiser, and looking back pitifully on what I realized so late in life. So I decided to make a list:
1. Do an internship in college.
You’ll hate the responsibility at the time because it’ll take away from your social life and add more work and responsibility to your existing fifteen credits. But trust me—do it. Graduating with experience to put on your resumé besides dominating a keg stand will be pivotal to building a resumé when you don’t have anything else to put on it.
2. Live with your parents for at least a year after college.
Relax. One day you might need to move back home because your life has completely fallen apart, and it’ll be way more depressing to live there when you’re 27 and depressed than it is when you’re 22, applying for jobs, and drinking like you did in college. Milk it while you can. Your mom will cook dinner.
3. Backpack Europe.
One day you’ll feel too jaded and old to shlep around Europe with just a backpack and still find a way to find life inspiring. Plus, it’ll make you humble to see the world without much money.
4. Live someplace really warm. And then live someplace really cold.
Know that wherever you thought you wanted to live all your life is probably not going to be the place that makes you happiest. So live here, live there, and then when you’re unhappy you’ll already know where to move without feeling like you’re gambling.
5. Live by yourself.
If you dream of one day living in New York City, try to live alone somewhere really cheap first, before you have to pay your soul in rent to basically live in a hostel the size of a box. And it’ll make you work harder for success so you can afford to live alone again.
6. Avoid moving in with Craigslist people just because they’re cute.
One day you’ll be desperate for a roommate and you’ll think the first person you interviewed is perfect just because they’re from Texas and have dimples, but trust me—they won’t be cute in a month once you discover that they got fired from their job and can only afford to eat CVS pot pies for dinner. Try to find friends of friends. Or dorks who never leave their room.
7. Work in hospitality.
There might come a day when you don’t have a choice in the matter, and it’s better to do it young when you can have fun with it, save what you make, meet some weird people, and quit easily if you want to. It’ll help you to get thick skin and understand quickly how insane most people are.
8. Open a savings account.
One day you’re going to need to move somewhere for real. And you don’t want to have to sell your eggs just to afford all the furniture you need, in addition to first and last month’s rent, a security deposit, a broker’s fee, and a moving van. (Trust me. Every dollar will count when it’s in the thousands.)
9. Build your credit.
One day you’re going to need to apply for a credit card, only to realize that you don’t have any credit. Like at all. Get one with a small limit. Charge something. Pay it off in full. Repeat.
10. Have more relationships.
This doesn’t mean sex. This means practicing actually being with someone, because being good in bed will only get you so far when you’re thirty and single and have never had a boyfriend. Being a thirty-year-old who doesn’t know how to hold hands and speak openly about their feelings is not a good way to be. Get vulnerable. It’ll help you grow.
11. Get more Brazilian waxes.
The sooner you start to love your vagina and not think of it as a one-hit wonder, the more confident you’ll become in your sexuality for when the right guy comes along.
12. Get a vibrator.
There’s going to come a time when you’re so drunk and horny that you’d fuck a dude who looks like a tree. Save your pride. Get a vibrator. At least then the “O” is a guarantee.
13. Date guys of all types.
You’ll spend so much time searching for one type of guy, only to realize later that you’ve wasted all that precious time searching for someone you don’t even like. Broaden your horizons. The person you end up with will be completely different than what you imagined, anyway.
14. Get out of your head.
Stop thinking that everything in your life has to be a certain way. You’re ruining your mind. Stop thinking that you have to get married and have babies because you thought by 25 that’s what your life would be. Do you even want to get married and have babies anymore? Honor your thoughts. Don’t despise how you’re changing. Be patient.
15. Thirty is the new 20, anyway.
So get a drink and chill the fuck out.