1. The first job after college.
This is amazing. Do you know how many educated, college graduates are still struggling? Yet you’ve crawled out of the pile of endless degrees and managed to land yourself a job. Whether you’re waiting tables or bartending, never not give yourself credit for having a job because you’re still putting yourself out there and being accountable for your finances.
2. The first salaried job.
Congrats! You’ve made it to true adulthood. No more hourly rates! No more minimum wage! You finally have a steady paycheck every couple of weeks, and one that you can hopefully put your college major to use. If not, no worries. Because every two weeks.
3. Learning to say, “No.”
When you learn to politely say no, whether it’s hanging out with friends or declining a social event, it can feel incredibly empowering. Not everything in your 20s is about FOMO. Some days, you just have to embrace your inner hermit and not feel guilty about it.
4. Getting your first pet as an adult.
Whether you’ve consciously decided to adopt a dog at a shelter or find a reputable long-haired Maine Coon breeder, having your first pet as an adult is a weighty responsibility, albeit rewarding. Sometimes all you need other than yourself is a tail wag or meow waiting for you when you get home.
5. Learning to deal with conflict.
As you get older, you’ll learn that life is not all about sunshine and rainbows. In fact, you probably already knew that, hence the sullen emo phase you went through in high school. Still, learning to fight fairly and constructively, whether it’s with your roommates or parents, is a pretty big deal. Not taking everything personally or bringing unnecessary personal attacks into an argument is definitely something you should be proud of. Likewise, being able to articulate your emotions in uncomfortable situations at work or at home.
6. Filing taxes for the first time.
Whether you’ve decided to hire an accountant or use an online service like TurboTax, filing taxes is not an easy feat. While tedious, it’s also necessary and teaches you patience and diligence, which many adults still struggle with. Once you’ve filed your taxes for the first time, it gets pretty straightforward after that, and if you do it right, you can avoid the IRS for years to come, because how terrifying would that be if the IRS came after you? Seriously.
7. Cooking real food that doesn’t come out of a box.
It’s easy to eat frozen dinners or get take out every other day, especially if you live in a big city, but someday you’ll have to learn to cook your own meals. Why? Because it’ll save you more money down the line and keep you healthy (MSG overload anyone?). I’m not talking about being able to make a decent scrambled eggs, but a real meal you can share with your friends for a weekend potluck or bring to a backyard barbeque. Because adulthood comprises of those two very important social gatherings.
8. Discovering your beliefs.
Whether it’s religion or politics, it’s important to have opinions on worldly issues and your personal faith, whether you are an atheist or a devout and weekly church goer. We’re in one of the most monumental electoral seasons in the country, and there are still people who have no opinions on the matter. Coming to terms with where you are in your political and religious beliefs will ultimately shape who you become and the kinds of people you choose to associate and spend time with, which is what every 20 something should be focusing on.
9. Travelling alone.
It doesn’t matter if you’re crossing state lines or flying twenty hours away from where you currently are. Travelling alone is something everyone should do in their 20s. Be brave. Be bold. And pack appropriately.
10. Learning to be happy.
It’s an incredible feeling when you discover you are already complete as a person and don’t need anyone else to validate you. You don’t need a relationship to prove your worth. You don’t need to make six figures to prove others your worth. You are fully in charge of your own happiness; while things may get in the way of that happiness at times, you are the one who decides what to do when you encounter those snafus. Sometimes this epiphany hits others earlier in their lives, but there will always be little lessons sprinkled along the way that will culminate into this beautiful awareness that your happiness matters.