1. Eat at a restaurant alone.
Not a drive-through, takeout, or delivery. Not even a Noodles & Company. A sit-down restaurant — the kind with cloth napkins and the bill in a little leather folder. The starkly awkward, self-intimate feeling is key. The waitstaff might give you a questioning look, and they will probably say something pitying like “Just one?” but eventually you’ll be left alone with just the food and your thoughts. The experience is meditative and thought provoking, like taking a warm shower or driving around the suburbs at night.
2. Drive on the highway, pump your own gas, and deal with an auto-related emergency.
Believe it or not, plenty of grown-ass people are too afraid to drive on the highway. Even stranger, state laws in Oregon and New Jersey outlaw pumping your own gas—so, literally, there are potentially millions of American drivers that have never fueled up their own cars. As far as auto emergencies go, of course, it is best to never have one. But, at some point, you or a friend will probably have car trouble and the adult thing to do would be to step up and not let somebody else handle the proceedings. Bonus points: Riding up front and carrying on a conversation with a tow truck driver.
3. Know how to get around your own city without a car.
Given the last point, this might seem contradictory. But most cities are also set up to be traveled on foot, by bike, bus, subway or train. All of which allow the traveler to become more engaged with his or her city than by car, because navigating traffic is less of an issue. While driving requires an admirable set of skills, and its own license, public transportation can be just as daunting for those who have never dared to try. Hint: Google Maps makes this more manageable than ever.
4. Stand up for something you believe in, even if it’s uncomfortable.
Some like to pass it off as diplomacy or taking the high road, but staying silent is often the easier response to a lewd or offensive comment. As an adult, recognize when it’s appropriate to tell someone off! Interrupt a dinner party, cause awkward silences, express your opinions when they are not popular. There’s definitely a forgotten chapter of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” that involves standing up to creeps and bigots.
5. Actually do a majority of the things you pin on Pinterest.
This is a little less serious, and will date itself in a few years, but Pinterest embodies all of the crafts we want to make, all the delicious foods we want to cook, the buildings we want to construct—who we would be if we only had the means and the time. If you’re truly an adult, a real person, the time to stop pinning and start living is now.
6. Travel on your own, for more than a weekend.
This might be self-explanatory, but knowing how to get around an unfamiliar place, without relying on someone else to steer, is so, so valuable. It’s probably fairly easy to get through life having only traveled with family, mission trips, or study abroad programs—some people never travel at all. It doesn’t even have to cost anything if you plan things right.
7. Tell your family and loved ones how much they mean to you.
[No explanation necessary.]