Even though turning 18 makes you a legal adult, it often takes many more years until you feel like a grown-up. You can say you’re a grown woman like that Beyonce song, but until you’re doing these sorts of things, well, you have a little more growing to do. But you can do it! I have faith in you.
1. Do the dishes at family gatherings without being asked – Did your family have dinner at your grandma’s? Give her a break and do the dishes without your mom prodding you. If you’re in your twenties, you should be doing this anyway. Your family members did this for you through your entire childhood, so let them sit and visit while you wash and dry. It’s common courtesy.
2. Fill up your gas tank instead of putting $10 in at a time – I know, it sucks to spend $40+ when you could spend $10, but it’s better for your car and saves you so much time in the long run. In addition, pay attention to routine maintenance of your car. Getting an oil change or rotating your tires sucks, but you have to do it to avoid costly repairs later on.
3. Do basic household chores every day – This means throwing out the trash before it reeks and overflows, neatly sorting recycling, wiping down countertops, doing your laundry regularly and taking care of dirty dishes before they become a problem. This is easy stuff, but for some reason it’s hard for some people to do.
4. Pay your own rent — My parents have never paid my rent! They never offered and I would never have accepted if so. If you’re in your twenties, you should be paying at LEAST half of your rent and working to earn that money. Don’t freeload off your parents.
5. Open a savings account, and contribute to it — Even if you just put $20 in a savings account per month, you’re doing something. I opened my first real savings account last year at the ripe old age of 25 (I KNOW, I KNOW), and when it added up in the thousands I was super proud of myself. It came in handy when I had to make a really expensive repair to my car, too. A financial backup plan is one of the key cornerstones of being a grown-up.
6. Know how to cook a few meals — I do not do this. But I should learn. It’s important to know how to cook basic meals for yourself and others, and I do not mean boxed mac ‘n’ cheese. Even if you have no interest in cooking, like me, knowing how to scramble an egg at the very least is a good skill to have.
7. Be responsible about drinking — This one is tough, but knowing your body and its limits when alcohol is involved is a skill you learn after a few years of legally drinking. It’s not cute to be that sloppy drunk who passes out after peeing on herself after the age of … well, never. Learn how to drink only a glass of wine with your dinner, or an after-work beer.
8. Save money in small ways — Stop buying Starbucks every day, or loading up on weekend outfits at Forever 21. Write down your purchases throughout the week and see what you can eliminate. We always think we need more stuff than we already have, or we “deserve” that $5 coffee or $25 purse on sale at Target.
9. Do nice things for others — I have a lot of incredible people in my life, and as I age it becomes more important to me to let them know how much I appreciate them. Even something as simple as sending a card to a friend with a few nice words is a gesture they’ll cherish. Pick up the bill for a friend when you go out to dinner together. Bring your hostess a candle, a book or a bottle of wine at a gathering. Call your mom and tell her you love her. Offer to babysit a coworker’s kid for free for a few hours so she can go to Ikea alone, or bring in your neighbor’s mail when they’re out of town. If there’s a cause you’re passionate about, volunteer with an organization that supports it. It’s the little things.
10. Learn how to be alone — Quiet solo time is something you learn to enjoy. This can be eating dinner alone at a restaurant, taking an hour to put your phone away to read a book and relax or simply taking a walk by yourself without spending the entire time texting friends. It can also apply to dating; I think learning how to be single and do things on your own is an incredibly important part of growing up. Learn how to be happy as yourself, not as part of a couple. You’ll feel far more fulfilled that way.