Age is but a number, but there are a number of ways to make yourself seem older. In honor of all my fellow friends who have reached the quarter-century milestone this year, I present a list of actions to avoid to prevent prematurely aging yourself mentally, physically, and socially. If you’ve done them already, sorry. There’s no helping you there. Some are serious, some are not, but all are here to make you feel better about your fleeting youth.
1. Get married. Is there anything more adult than swearing to love someone for the rest of your life? Okay, yes, maybe, but this is a huge commitment, unless you’re Kim Kardashian. All right, you’ve convinced me. Caveat: unless you are ludicrously wealthy and/or famous, marriage is a big deal for the more mature among us.
2. Buy a house. Nothing says financially stable and responsible like settling down and contemplating a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.
3. Birth a child. When you bring another human being into the world, you’ve basically fulfilled your evolutionary duty, so you can be on your merry way.
4. Get divorced. Since divorce requires having been married at some point, you’ve aged yourself by default. See point 1.
5. Become President of the United States. Obviously you have to be at least 35 to be President, but I’m talking more about the actual aging process due to holding the stressful position. Just look at some before and after shots of many of our former two-term leaders of the free world. Did they spend eight years leading our nation? Or 18?
6. Have major surgery and discuss it at length. When you’re diagnosed with a condition that requires major surgery and you can’t stop talking about it before, after, and during the treatment, chances are you sound like you’re 80. Up next, bemoan your misspent youth and look for more ailments to discuss.
7. Have a pill cocktail instead of an actual cocktail. When you own a pillbox and reach for the pills rather than the drinks, you’re officially old. Unless you’re a druggie or actually extremely ill. In which case, I’m very sorry, and you can skip over this point.
8. Hold lively discussions about what you recently heard on NPR, especially A Prairie Home Companion, Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me, and All Things Considered. When you recognize the names and voices of Garrison Keillor, Peter Segal, Robert Siegel, Melissa Block, and Audie Cornish, you’re probably a well-educated, intellectually curious, well-adjusted middle-aged adult. Or a millennial hipster posing as one.
9. Master the soccer-mom stop. An oncoming vehicle approaches, so you immediately stick out your arms to stop everyone behind you from walking straight to their deaths. You’ve learned to sacrifice yourself before all, which is heroic, but also a tell-tale sign that you’re old.
10. Regularly discuss your taxes and strategies to reduce your tax burden. Once January 1 rolls around, you start thinking about doing your annual tax return. And then you don’t stop talking about which strategic deductions you’ll take until April 15. Yawn. Ancient.
11. Write a will. When you get to an age where you’ve acquired enough assets to warrant creating a legal will, and you actually follow through with compiling it, fully comprehending the reality of your eventual demise, you have matured enough to earn the title of being old…and decrepit.
12. Sunbathe every day during the summer without wearing sunscreen and/or go to a tanning salon regularly. Your skin will not thank you. You will get wrinkly at an early age.
13. Smoke cigarettes. Remember those lines I just talked about? All over your body. Don’t do it.
14. Talk in terms of decades. When your standard unit of time measure is no longer the day, week, or month, but years, decades, and scores, I hate to break it to you, but you’re getting up there in years.
15. Yell at the neighborhood kids for stepping on your perfectly manicured lawn and for making too much noise. Hey man, it’s just some grass and some young ruffians enjoying the beautiful day.
16. Use the phrase “kids these days.” Ironic or not, when you start using this phrase, you start showing your age.
17. Start oversharing on social media. There was a time in your youth when you posted incessant updates about your whereabouts and feelings. “I’m so bored lololol.” “I can’t wait for summer!!!” “At the MaLL. HiT mE UP, PlAyas!” But the urge subsided for the most part during your adolescence. When you’ve hit the magical era where you start once again oversharing—this time about your engagement, your marriage, your cats, and your offspring—you are, dare I say it, old.
18. Pull out more than 20 gray hairs at a time. When you pluck out a whole section of hair, leaving a lonely bald spot in the center of your scalp, it’s time to admit the truth. Or commit to a steady dye job.
19. Learn how to play bridge. Bridge is an antiquated game, for an antiquated person.
20. Get dentures. No teeth? No problem. Rock that toothy faux grin.
21. Consciously decide to put on smooth jazz at a dinner party. It’s a matter of acquired taste, and you’ve had plenty of time to acquire it.
22. Have trouble with technology. When you can no longer keep up with the pace of rapidly changing technology and need to ask for help for even the simplest tasks, that’s another cue.
23. Throw out your back. Painkillers. Cocktail. It was bound to happen at some point.
24. Memorize the fiber content of every food you eat. If you need to start monitoring your bowel movements and start scarfing down Fiber One bars (not to mention eating Activia by the shovelful), you’ve reached a certain stage in life.
25. Reminisce about the “good old days.” It seems like just yesterday, but the photos are yellowing and faded, and so are you. Just kidding, that’s probably your Instagram filter. Here’s to being 25 years young.