“We had put almost all of our possessions in storage, which was a metaphor for being twenty, as were so many things.” ― Lorrie Moore
1. Floss at least once a day. A wise person once told me (could have been Aristotle, could have been my mother, could have been my childhood dentist dressed up in a Mickey Mouse costume) that having a clean mouth is the root for overall good health. Also, once your teeth start cracking, growing cavities or rotting away, it will cost you a month’s rent in NYC to repair that bad boy. They don’t call it a “crown” because it’s cheap and they don’t call it a “root canal” because it’s painless.
2. Call your parents and tell them you love them. Tell them every single day.
3. Teach yourself something that you didn’t have a chance to learn in school: HTML, a second language, how to say “I love you” and then, how to say “I’m sorry”.
4. Become well versed in those absurd words that the Talking Heads blabber about on repeat. Sequester. The Fiscal Cliff. Filibuster. They will affect you, in ways you couldn’t imagine. You’ll be sitting on the runway of Chicago O’Hare airport for two hours, holding in your pee and taming your nerves, and realize this is happening because airport towers are closed due to sequestration (try saying that word, out loud, 5 times).
5. Quit your job after one year if you’re miserable and can find a new job, if you’ve learned everything you possibly can at the company, if there is no room for growth. Your 20’s are about splatter painting your resume with experience and skills—not wasting time tapping away the keys at a job that’s making you cough up drool. Get out of there.
6. Don’t mistake comfort for happiness. Comfort can sometimes just be a more pleasant word for fear.
7. Enjoy being single (that is if you are actually still single). You’ll hopefully, eventually, find that person you’ll spend years pinky swearing with. Until then, figure out how to enjoy spending quality time with yourself. Take yourself out to a movie and cover your popcorn with as much butter, bunch-a-crunch pieces and twizzlers as your heart craves. Find out exactly what you need in life to be content. This is will be your tour guide through the jungle of finding a soul-mate.
8. Don’t pass up a free opportunity to hit the road. Clutter the pages of your passport with bizarre stamps from countries like Bulgaria, Moldova, Croatia.
9. Stay up till 4am, marking your spot on the dance floor of some smoky club on the Lower East Side of whatever city you call home. Dance until the DJ pumps out the last beat and then when it’s all over, when the puddle of sweat above your lips starts to dry, stay up just a little bit more. Watch the entire world wake up like a domino effect while you munch on an egg sandwich. Fall in love with the fact that your body can still function without very much sleep.
10. Hide cash in your room. This will be your immediate savings account.
11. Eat, or drink, your vegetables.
12. Volunteer. If anything, it will put your life into perspective.
13. Throw up a lot of insurmountable ideas and think that they are worthy of something: the making of a new start up, a viral trend, perhaps a GIF.
14. Secure a way to have health insurance before you turn 26 and get booted from your parents plan. Find a job with benefits.
15. Reach out to your best friend from middle school and say hello. It’s essential to remember where you came from, the things that used to make you wet your pants with laughter.
16. Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer aids you, develops you or makes you happy.
17. Pick up a new hobby: underwater basket weaving, photography, blogging, cooking.
18. Have an opinion and share it, even when you’re not asked to.
19. Read novels, read articles your friends post on Facebook, read ingredients on the back of your microwaveable dinner, read IKEA instructions. Read everything you can.
20. Understand what a 401K is.
21. Wear the bizarre things in your wardrobe that you’re saving for some special occasion on a random Tuesday. That funky bow-tie with the polka dots, the dress made entirely out of glitter sequins, the shoes covered in spray paint.
22. Stare at yourself naked. You’ll one day wish you looked this put together.
23. Talk to everyone. The guy suited up in the elevator, the man ringing up your food at the bodega, the lady who is waiting in line in front of you for the bus. At this age, strangers are the most important people you can meet.
24. Help people who are in a place you once were. Teach them how a professional resume looks, motivate them to get out of the bed they are rolling around in back in their parent’s house and get a job, reassure the girl who got her heart broken by her very first boyfriend that one day this will all make sense—she will be happy again, soon.
25. Make a giant mistake: staying at your first job post-grad longer than you should, almost marrying a guy you know is absolutely not right for you. Maybe move across the country to Los Angeles and work at In-And-Out Burger while you’re trying to get some eyes on that screen play you wrote. These will be the experiences that will remind you that even at 25, you are still worthy of getting slapped around a bit by life. That you still have so much more to learn.