Your 20s are a time where you can get away with being childishly reckless and yet you’re adult enough to do the things that children can’t. Here’s how to embrace it.
1. Backpack without plans–all you need is a flight there and a flight back with a few months in between. One day you’ll be too old or surly or rich or fussy to sleep in dorms of 24 people, or on a roof in Greece, or a street in Paris. Do it in your 20s so you can remember it as the most romantic thing that ever happened to you.
2. Love as recklessly as you can. Let yourself have that relationship that suffocates you with emotion every day, where the highs are inexplicably stratospheric and the lows are explosions and screams and hot tears. Go there with someone, be your best, most joyful and your worst, most vindictive self with them–love wildly, because one day you’ll be too weary or too rational for that.
3. Give your credit card a workout because you don’t have kids or a mortgage. Eat cans of beans for dinner but do it in the gorgeous dress you bought and your best high heels because you’ll never be this young or this stupid again, so you might as well have the decadent things that make you happy, guilt free.
4. Go a week without showering–whether you’re on deadline or studying for finals, just be a gross filth pot when you don’t have to go out into the world. You will get to know yourself in ways you never imagined. Find comfort in knowing that without showers, everyone is the same.
5. Be as glamorous as possible. Put aside your insecurities because whatever you think about yourself is objectively wrong. You are young and hot and full of energy so doll yourself up like you’re about to walk the red carpet and indulge in compliments.
6. Have at least one night where you cry ridiculously and listen to Adele while drinking wine and chain smoking. Once you have a family or a career or a spouse you will not have the time or the space to be this disgustingly self indulgent.
7. Get all your friends together in a group and go somewhere. Take a flight to Mexico or a drive upstate. Soon you’ll all be so busy you’ll be lucky if two of you can even be in the same place at the same time. Enjoy this time when your lives are defined by freedom and time.
8. Write about your feelings, which right now, are big and important. In 10, 15, 20 years, you’ll be able to go back and chuckle over your confessions, the same way you do now over your high school journal. Indulge yourself in your moment, without shame or fear.
9. Stay up until 10am on a rooftop with some friends and watch the sun come up over Manhattan, or wherever it is you live. Up that high, as the world comes awake, you will see how infinite the world is, and how detached from it you can be. As you get older, the more reluctant you’ll be to stay up past midnight, so sleep when you’re old.
10. Do some drugs. Nothing hard like heroin or ice, but do some mushrooms or take some ecstasy in a room full of people you love. Hold hands and stroke each others hair, and tell one another how wonderful you are. Drugs are pretty stupid, so try them out while they still have some mystique.
11. Eat whatever you want. Don’t be a greedy pig, but if you want some McDonald’s, eat some McDonald’s. Take advantage of your metabolism while you still have it, and don’t let hang-ups about food get in your way of devouring a huge cheese platter or an entire block of chocolate. Life was meant to be eaten.
12. Go on a long ass drive alone. Play all your favorite songs and coast with one hand out the window as you rip past the epic scenery. Have no where to go, and relish in just being and moving. Doing things with no end goal is about as free as you can get.
13. Say yes to everything. If someone you just met invites you to a party, or to a reading or a picnic–say yes. Meet as many people as you can. Turn up to places where you don’t know anyone and be a butterfly. Socializing becomes harder as you get older and people become more set in their ways and lives. Use this opportunity to broaden your perspective with the perspective of others.
14. Sleep with a stranger. Be safe, obviously, but sleep with someone you just met. Spend the night bantering in a bar, staring into each other’s eyes, and then go home and rock their socks. Let go of all your sexual inhibitions because you’ll never see this person again and just enjoy the primary act of fucking, the way you’ve always wanted to fuck.
15. Do something you love, even if you are terrible at it. Even if you can’t sing, go to karaoke. If you’re terrible at art, make a painting. If you love doing it, do it. Don’t worry about the judgement of other people–make yourself happy doing the thing that makes you happy.
16. Volunteer. No matter how important or busy you think your life is right now, it’s not. You are insignificant and time rich. Do something good for the world that raised you, and enrich yourself by learning about the people around us that need help. Not everything in your 20s is about self indulgence (although most is); take this chance, while time is on your side, to give something back.
17. Do the thing you’re most terrified of. Jump out of a plane or go scuba diving. Terrify yourself and surprise yourself with your mettle. One day you will have held onto a fear for so long it might be impossible to overcome it, so stare down the barrel of the gun now, while you’re still bold and reckless.
18. Work towards something. Even if it’s not the thing you’ll end up doing the rest of your life, work towards something you’re proud of. This may be the only time in your life when you’re able to work on a hangover too, so there are no excuses for slacking off. Work hard, put your energy into something and when it’s done, point to it and say “I did that, that’s mine.”
19. Experiment. With jobs, sex, clothes, your personality–experiment as much as you can to find the things you like and the person you want to be. Now is the time to shape yourself, to cultivate your interests and set the foundation for the kind of life you’d like to live. If you try something on and don’t like it, just throw it out and start again–it’s that easy for you right now.
20. Be alone. Be so alone you start talking to yourself. Stay in on Saturday night but have the best time with yourself. Do whatever you want with your you time alone, but have it. Someday you will not be able to escape from the responsibilities you have to other people. Now is the time to be truly, spectacularly, comfortably alone.