1. Don’t feel the need to respond to every text message, phone call, and email the second it reaches you. Once upon a time, it took longer than a minute to reach someone. People used stamps and envelopes; they had answering machines they didn’t check for hours, sometimes days. No one will die if you don’t immediately respond to every message you receive.
2. Ask for what’s owed to you. Half the time, you’re not getting your needs met because you’re not making them known. Your employers, romantic interests, and friends are not going to read your mind and give you what you need unless you speak up.
3. Never turn down an open bar. Seek them out and make them a priority. Indulging in open bars when you’re older isn’t appropriate because a) people will think you have an alcohol problem and b) you’re supposed to have enough money to afford your own alcohol.
4. If you’re unhappy and someone offers you a way out, take it. You don’t owe your first job years of loyalty and your first-born; you don’t have to stay in your city just because you’re on a first-name basis with the bodega guy. Do what feels right; the initial fear will give way to excitement.
5. Take advantage of all the energy you have in your 20s. In your 30s and 40s, your body starts getting upset with you, when some 20-something babe is all, “Wanna race?” That’s not a concern when you’re in your 20s — don’t ever take it for granted.
6. Let your more successful friends pick up the check this time. Before you’re 30, it’s still okay to be work as a barista and not have your career path figured out. Save your cash and take up your lawyer-friend’s offer for dinner. Use the money you saved to buy more ramen.
7. Play a sport you played in elementary school. Kickball, dodgeball. There are leagues for these games now. Get on it.
8. Learn how to cook. Here’s an idea — instead of spending all your money on ridiculously marked-up restaurant food, save your money by buying non-processed WHOLE FOODS and LEARNING HOW TO MAKE A MEAL OF REAL FOOD. A meal of real food is not a box of Annie’s Organic Mac and Cheese — that’s PROCESSED FOOD. A meal is something like sauteed brussel sprouts with onions and pinto beans garnished with salt and pepper. You’ll thank yourself for learning how to cook when your metabolism catches up to you.
9. Keep making friends. Everyone complains that it’s hard to make friends after college, but we still manage to find new people to flirt with and date, right? It’s not that hard. You know yourself better than you ever have before, and your friends can finally reflect that. Don’t cling to old friends because it’s too frightening or ‘risky’ to make new ones.
10. Let your parents buy your plane ticket home. It can be trying to be stuck in a house with your family for a few days or a week, but vacations in your 20s can be hard to come by. Let them subsidize your trips home and do you as much as you can when you get there.
11. Stay up late. In your 20s, you’re all, “Let’s go to another bar!” “Who wants to eat at a diner?” “Have you guys seen the sun rise from the High Line?” “In this moment I swear we were infinite!” When you get older, this becomes, “What are you doing? Go home. Watch Parks and Rec and go to sleep. What is wrong with you, staying up all night? Who has time for that?” If you’re in your 20s, you do. You have all the time. Do it now and take advantage of how not tired you are. You think you’re crabby now when you stay up too late? You’ll never believe how terrible you feel when you do it in your 30s.
12. Savor those 20s hangovers. They are a gift from God so that you’ll always remember what your tolerance level is. Your hangover recovery time is like flippin’ Wolverine in your 20s. You wake up, feel like death, pull on some shades, gulp down coffee or maybe a bloody Mary and whine about your headache over brunch. Oh, boo hoo. When you’re older, every hangover is Apocalypse Freaking Now. You’re not making it to brunch. You’re not making it off your floor in a weeping puddle of regret.
13. Indulge in diner/ fast food at 4 a.m. This is considered depressing behavior once you become a real adult.
14. STOP PROCRASTINATING YOUR TRIP ABROAD. YOUR CHANCES OF TAKING A LONG VACATION ABROAD DIMINISH AS YOU BECOME MORE SET IN YOUR WAYS AND AS YOU GAIN MORE RESPONSIBILITY.
15. Do ‘unacceptable’ things to your hair. Dye it. Dread it. Shave only the left side of your head and give a crap if it grows back in a flattering manner (hint: it won’t). There’s no time but now.
16. Avoid Burning Man. Save it for your weird-Dad mid-life crisis.
17. Sit down, unplug, and read non-fiction. Do this daily. None of your peers are doing it. They’re playing video games and refreshing Facebook and Gmail chatting about nothing in particular. After a month you’ll be smarter than all of them.
18. Walk into Forever 21 and grab every single crappily-made floral dress available. Is every other girl on the street wearing it? Is it literally falling apart at the seams? Is it also actually five dollars? BUY IT IMMEDIATELY. When you get older, your clothing becomes all expensive blazers and tailored khakis and other pieces that won’t break while on your body. That will be a great day — the day when your closet starts to look respectable. Though those outfits are more expensive, they also last longer and look better on you. You will be a classy human ready to take on the future. But as long as you’re still in your 20s? You know — the demographic of Forever 21? Game on, stretchy black dress with pockets that lasts about a week. Game on.
19. Take road trips. Sitting in a car for days on end isn’t something your body was designed to do forever.
20. Don’t invest in things like window curtains or throw rugs or… Windex. You’re a young, social person who doesn’t have time for things like picture-framing and broom-sweeping. No one actually expects you to maintain a bed skirt or a duvet cover in your 20s, they’re the home decor equivalent of puppies/ children.
21. Go to/host theme parties. Once people age out of their 20s, no one’s trying to wear pajamas or Saran Wrap out of the house. The only theme parties that exist after your 20s are ‘Wedding,’ ‘Baby Shower,’ and ‘Funeral.’