1. Visit a nude beach (check out Austin, Texas if you’re stuck for locations). There’s nothing like reveling in your own nudity (or, rather, being brave enough to do so) in front of a bunch of strangers to smack some self-love and body acceptance into you.
2. Get as many body piercings and crazy haircuts as you can before you have to be your most employable self. My own form of physical rebellion came the summer after my freshman year in college, when I came home with a nose ring. Sadly, my glory run ended when my mother refused to let me out of the house with it.
3. If you’re of the more badass (and less commitment-phobic) variety, get a tattoo. A good friend recently tattooed a portrait of Bill Cosby on her forearm, and she has never looked better. It’s all about the edge these days.
4. Date someone who is bad for you even if you realize that the eventual demise of your relationship will leave some emotional scarring (though nothing time, a few handles of cupcake-flavored vodka, and a couple of rebound flings can’t heal). If nothing else, these kinds of romances will teach you so much about yourself — decidedly more than laying on your couch and mindlessly swiping through Tinder all day long.
5. Spend some time abroad if you have the means to do so. Travel alone or with a small band of friends. Immerse yourself in the culture and history of a place completely foreign to you. Learn that the world is far grander and more expansive than the bubble in which you live.
6. Get closure with that one ex you still refuse to let go — the on-and-off ex that you partially hate but sometimes hope to end up marrying. This might mean going out for drinks — which is really a ploy for getting to yell at him in a public setting, where he has no choice but to sit back in embarrassment and let the whole spectacle unfold. This might mean telling her how you really feel before sloppily making out for the last time. Just do whatever it takes to make you realize that you two are never, ever, ever getting back together.
7. Totally snark-free advice: learn how to do your own taxes. Tax codes are complicated. The IRS is bureaucratic and slow. I underestimated just how confusing tax policy can be until a few weeks ago, when I was filling out documents for my first big girl job and was waist-deep in W9, W2, W4, W-blah-blah-blah forms.
8. Gather a group of close friends and go to Vegas. Or Cancun. Or St. Thomas. Or even Fayetteville, Arkansas. It doesn’t matter where you go as long as you get to have one wild, all-out, no-holds-barred trip with your buds that can be the subject of many a nostalgic conversation and drunken wedding toast for years to come.
9. Forgive your parents. Sometimes, they were hard on you. Many times, they were borderline obnoxious (and you’re still reeling from that time they grounded you right before the biggest party of your 10th grade social career), but they did it all because they cared. In all likelihood, you’d be a bigger mess right now if it weren’t for their guidance and friendly (#lol) nagging.
10. Slowly but surely start adding professional pieces to your wardrobe and removing the items of clothing that are no longer acceptable for you to wear in public (namely, anything tie-dyed). It might hurt, babe, but you have to get rid of that rainbow-colored, pleather bodysuit. Adulthood is all about getting giddy over sales at Ann Taylor.
11. Samantha Jones from Sex and the City once claimed that she is a “try-sexual” — someone who is willing to dabble in any sort of experience at least once. Because she is a well of wisdom and because imitating fictional TV characters is an underrated life strategy, take a cue from her (in all aspects of your life) while you’re still young, attractive, and unfettered.
12. Do what it is you always told yourself that you would do. Growing up doesn’t necessarily mean relinquishing your dreams — even if they aren’t compatible with procuring a steady stream of income for the moment. Go home after your 9-5 and hone your love of painting, rapping, or photography. Write the novel you always said you would. When you have a spare moment, plan the start-up you will one day launch. Work for now but keep your dreams alive on the side.