“The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” ― Laura Ingalls Wilder
1. Never having to take the SATs again—I’m still waking up drenched in my own sweat over the pressing nightmares of having to answer a question like: The average (arithmetic mean) of 4 different integers is 75. If the largest integer is 90, what is the least possible value of the smallest integer?
2. Getting a tax refund check in the mail.
3. The chance to change what you do for a living. Anyone who doesn’t love what they are doing is a fool (especially at this age).
4. Being able to turn new, small spaces into your home. A 10×10 box in the West Village of some overpriced city, an “I’m in-between-jobs” couch that’s donated to you in your good friend’s apartment, the twin sized bed that’s still wrapped in your 10-year-old Power Ranger sheets resting in your parent’s basement. At this age, home is comfort. And comfort can be as easy as a place where you can get the right amount of sleep and functioning electrical outlets.
5. Having positive numbers in your bank account after you pay the large stack of demanding bills that are due on the 1st of the month.
6. How your relationship with your parents has changed from them being curfew prison guards to your loyalist best friends and biggest fans.
7. Friday at 5pm.
8. A first date that gives those butterflies a reason to swarm the inside of your stomach lining. That gives you a glimpse of hope that maybe there is someone out there that can put up with your chaotic lifestyle and bizarre dreams.
9. Falling in love — with a human, with a brand new job, with finally ourselves.
10. Being young enough to still experience things for the first time.
11. The knowledge that if you wanted to, you could go out there and rent a car.
12. Having friends that have stuck around long enough to be able to call your bluffs or to give you a giant slap of encouragement when your mascara tears stain the collar of their H&M blouse.
13. Making money and wasting it on things that mean more to you than school supplies, textbooks and tutors once did. Things like rent in a tiny shoebox apartment, a one way ticket to a city you crave to live out your dreams in, and beer, lots and lots of beer.
14. Looking back at old pictures of your awkward puberty phase and being happy that you made it through the brace-face, pimpled infested years.
15. The wildly fresh potential that strangers present you with upon an initial handshake.
16. Still being able to dominate in Mario Kart.
17. Anything free—but especially free food.
18. Beer. Because even three years after graduating college, you still can’t stomach even a whiff of Vodka, Rum, or their arch-nemesis—Tequila.
19. Leftovers that your mom will pack up for you when you make the trip home to visit in a freezer bag with dry ice, that will last as your main source of food for the next two weeks.
20. Curbing the feeling of being lonely with social media. Sitting at a café in some small town in Minnesota, where your butt cheeks are frozen to the chair and the only friend you have is the one you made at Starbucks and doesn’t speak a word of English. How spending a few minutes scrolling through Facebook statuses can make you feel as though you’re not missing a thing. How the mundane exaggerations of other people’s lives are enough to motivate you to do something exotically brilliant with your own.
21. Having something called a 401K, which may not mean a whole lot to you now, but someday when you’re all wrinkly and your hands are exhausted from doing work, you’ll have a few dollars to retire in Boca Raton, Florida.
22. Trying out a new hobby. They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, but you can have a 25-year-old finally give in to doing something they always wanted to do. Stand Up Comedy Lessons, Ultimate Frisbee, Bollywood dance classes.
23. Learning to be comfortable with very uncomfortable situations. Having to meet new roommates, start a new job and make friends, ask for a raise, quit a job, walk into a bank and ask for a loan. These are the prickly situations that will frequently reappear throughout your life.
24. The feeling of hope. That you still have the time and the marbles of energy bouncing on the strong tiles of your stomach to do something grand. Hey, if the Harlem Shake can be famous—so can i!
25. Going back to your alma mater and having an old professor ask you to speak to some students, to answer their questions about how the heck they will get a job after graduation. And you’re standing there, remembering the days when you sat in that 4th row middle seat, days away from graduating college at 22 and not having a resume, a career path, a clue. And now you’re here, expected to give some type of advice on how to make it, to be able to stand up on your own two feet and be okay. So you look at every one of these kids in the eyes and you tell them the key to being “happy” after you graduate is making a lot of mistakes.
And you know that it will be at least three years, a lot of painful crying sessions, and one or two miserable part time jobs before they will believe you, before they will simply just understand.