1. I would’ve promised myself that I’d say “yes” to people more often than I actually did. Yes to eating a bite off of other people’s plates, yes to having a drink with someone who wanted me to give them a chance, yes to learning about people’s jobs in industries I assumed I wasn’t interested in.
2. I wouldn’t hyperventilate when I didn’t meet goals I set out for myself. I would’ve promised to give myself a break and realized that not only was I not going to be good at everything I attempted, but that that was okay.
3. I would watch more old movies, instead of deciding a one-time viewing of Casablanca made me cultured.
4. I would have been more aware of the fact that drunk pictures have a way of ending up on Facebook, and they’re hard to get rid of once they’re online for good.
5. I would put a fucking cap on my beverages and not drank them near a computer. This is honestly a promise you should make to yourself at every age. I learned this lesson the hard (and very expensive) way.
6. I would remember that it was not necessarily my fault when someone didn’t like me. When you get rejected — particularly in your early 20s —you assume it’s because something is wrong with you. I lost legitimate amounts of sleeping wondering why a certain guy did not see me as “datable.” The truth is that people have their own baggage. They have things going on at home, they want to get back together with their ex, or they genuinely would rather be sleeping with multiple people than dating you. None of that is your fault, and you don’t want to date the kid who’d rather play the field than commit to you.
7. I’d promise myself that I’d have confidence in the things I do. Or that I’d, at the very least, pretend to be confident until it came naturally.
8. I would’ve made a promise to myself that once every six months, I’d go home. This gets harder as you get older. I moved farther away from my family after college, and now it’s hard to get to my mom’s house and my dad’s house once every six months, even though I work remotely. Plane tickets are expensive.
9. I would always get vegetarian burrito bowls at Chipotle because if you get a meat-free burrito bowl, the guac is free.
10. I’d promise myself that, by age 25, I’d cut synthetic cheese out of my life. I could still promise myself this, but it feels like it’s not happening.
11. I would dance more because there is no better time to learn to feel less awkward in your own skin than when you’re drunk at a bar at age 22.
12. I would promise myself that, at no point in my 20s, would I ever feel “old.” When you’re 18, being a college freshman feels so old. Then you’re 20, and the little 18 year olds seem like babies. By the time you’re 22 and done with college, you feel ancient when, in fact, you’re just getting started.
13. I’d promise to actually study a little bit during my last semester of college. But not too much. Everything in moderation.
14. I would learn about good wine and make 22 the year I stopped drinking Franzia.
15. I would stop internalizing the jealousy I felt toward other people — people who had jobs, relationships, a plan, etc. — because it just encouraged me to question myself in the most unproductive ways.
16. I would promise to accept myself, even after realizing that I, just like everyone else, loved Beyonce.
17. I’d make a promise to keep exercising after I graduated college and no longer had access to a gym.
18. But I would not pay for a gym membership, especially if I lived in a climate where it was warm enough to run outside.
19. I would promise myself that I’d always advocate to be treated fairly at my entry-level job. But I’d also make sure that I didn’t complain too much when I started the 8-to-6 grind.
20. I would not run from my anxiety, any feelings of depression, or any other mental illness. Instead, I would try to acknowledge those feelings, and deal with them in a productive way, even if that meant seeing a therapist.
21. I wouldn’t keep friends around just for convenience or obligation’s sake.
22. I would promise myself that 22 was the year I’d learn to make quality cocktails and have my friends over for fancy drinks for no apparent reason.