There are plenty of lists telling you of things to do before you’re 21, or on your 21st birthday, but what about the 12 months during it? Well as I recently celebrated my 22nd birthday, I put together a list of things I have and would have liked to have done during that milestone year. Believe it or not, you’re not going to be forever 21, so might as well make the most of it. Truth be told, you can do these things at 22, 30, 46, 67 and 99 and if you’re a trust fund kid living in Montreal even 18, but 21 things to do at 55 just doesn’t ring as a title.
1. Buy yourself a drink you’ve never had.
You’re legal all over the world dammit, so flash that ID like you mean it. Step out of your comfort zone and steer clear of the words “cranberry” and “vodka”, especially together. Try that weird looking name like the Freddy Fudpucker or Dirty Diaper, or that concoction that couldn’t possibly taste good with all the random ingredients in it. It just might win the title of your new favorite drink… or may end up spit on the floor, but you’ll never know the outcome unless you try!
2. Visit a place you’ve never been.
A new country would be nice. But hey, by the look of your dinner menu that consisted of mac and cheese and ramen noodles for the past oh I don’t know five months, I understand cash is low. So let’s settle for a new city. Somewhere you can get to if you just jump into a car or a bus.
3. Update your wardrobe.
It’s about time those Hollister and Abercrombie graphic tees are thrown into a
trash can Salvation Army donation box. When shopping, instead of going for straight for the sweatpants, opt for something more dressy. You’ll soon be making the transition from classroom to office and it’ll be nice to have some staples already waiting for you in the closet. Sweatpants will soon be a thing for inside your house/apartment.
4. Show appreciation towards your parents/guardians.
If you’re lucky, you still live with them which means home cooked meals are the norm, you have an endless amount of fresh underwear (thanks to a mother who’s gracious enough to do your laundry), the words “electricity” and “bills” are non-existent and you get a goodnight kiss before bed. Your parents, whether you live with them or not, have taken care of you for a long time and now is a good time to let them know how thankful you are. Apparently folks also appreciate a nice dinner out, flowers or a monetary gift. They’ve spoiled you for 21 years, maybe instead of opting for that keg, you can use your spare change to give back.
5. Write a letter to yourself in ten years.
Your life is going to be drastically different when you’re 31. If life goes the way society expects it to, you’ll probably be married maybe even with a kid or two. Tell yourself the hopes and dreams you have at 21 and what you wish you’ve accomplished by 31. Spill your problems and decisions that you’re currently dealing with, which when you read this in the future will all end up seeming trivial.
6. Invest your money.
If you have money to spare, take a risk and invest it whether in a stock, a bond or a thing. You may be rewarded financially greatly in the future.
7. Get in touch with a long lost friend from high school.
Can you believe it’s been four years since you’ve left the comforting (or constraining depending how your experience was) walls of high school? The supposedly second best four years of your life (first is college, again depending how your experience was). I’m sure if you pull up that dusty yearbook and take a look through, you’ll come across some not-so-familiar faces that you saw every day. Look up your friends on Facebook and shoot them a simple, “hey how’s it going” message. You may get R-bombed, you
will may get a “who is this?” response but with some people you’ll go back to talking as if nothing has changed. You can thank Mark Zuckerberg later.
8. Delete all your exes on social media.
If you still talk to them and are friends, cool. If not, unfriend and unfollow and make moving on Facebook official. There’s no need to be reminded of what you missed out on every time you scroll through your newsfeed or dashboard.
9. Quit something.
Whether it’s a bad habit, a job that you hate, or even a deadly relationship. Now is as good a time as any to say goodbye to the things or people in your life that are bringing you down. Obviously, go through the pros and cons first and make sure it’s a good decision.
10. Start something.
Honestly you’ve never know how good you are at something until you try. You may have not had parents who you signed up for every single sport or class as a child, but that doesn’t have to stop you from ever trying tennis or cricket or ballet. You may have passed your prime age to take the sport to the competitive level and become a professional, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be the star player on your house league team. Convinced you have not a single athletic bone in your body? That’s cool, embrace what you were gifted with and start something using that. Writers can start a blog, leaders/go-getters can start a business. The possibilities are truly endless.
11. Create a blog.
Maybe you’re not super talented when it comes to writing or photography, but that shouldn’t stop you from blogging, even if it’s just for yourself. Creating a blog gives you a free platform to express yourself and share your interests. I understand that WordPress can be daunting for beginners, so just sign up for tumblr and join the simple world of reblogging.
12. Read a self-help book.
Enough of that unrealistic fiction, try reading something that will help you become a better person, achieve your goals and motivate you. Okay so maybe unrealistic fiction can in fact do all of the above, but maybe try something that’s sole purpose is that.
13. Spend some time volunteering.
During this time in your life, a time when your wallet is usually starving, and your drowning in debt, working for free is probably the last thing on your to-do list. However, there are many rewards that come with helping out, though they aren’t financial. Just one hour a week can make a difference in your community, a person’s life or in the larger spectrum, the world. Volunteering also gives you one extra thing to add to that oh-so-important resume.
14. Edit your resume.
Think about the last time you opened up your resume. Was it three years ago when you walked through the entire mall handing one to every store? Regardless, you’ve gained many more skills and experiences since then and now is a good time to update the piece of paper that’s going to sell you to employers. You may have already graduated college or will be soon, and it’s nice to have a more recent document to work off of instead of trying to desperately remember what you did during the past three years as a sales associate.
15. Create a business card for yourself.
They say networking is key to landing a job. Who is they and is what they’re saying true? I have no clue. But it doesn’t hurt to have some professional cards in your wallet at all times, if you do run into someone important or helpful.
16. Recreate an old photograph.
You’ve probably seen them take over the internet. Those brilliant two pictures, one from 1999 and one from 2014, where its subjects are in the relatively same location wearing the relatively same clothes in the relatively same pose. Why not go ahead and follow this fabulous trend yourself, whether it’s with family members, friends or solo? When you look at that photograph, every time you do it’ll make you laugh. (Get my Nickelback reference? No? I don’t blame you.)
17. Clean out your computer.
Our mothers and roommates constantly nag us to clean up after ourselves. We take the time to clean our rooms, clean our closets, clean every inch of our homes but when do we really set aside time to clean our computer. From the documents to the downloads, I’m sure there’s hundreds of unwanted files taking up space. You know it’s about time for a cleanup when you can’t even see what your desktop background is any more.
18. Film a vlog.
Whether it’s while you’re at an event, or on vacation or just sitting at home, a vlog is basically a fancy modern way of saying home video. Keep it for yourself to view in the future or share it with others. It’s just a great way to capture memories.
19. Post a video on YouTube.
Whether you do so with the intention of becoming the next big YouTube guru with your DIY tutorials, to make that home video of your hilarious baby cousin go viral or so you can look back on how you talked twenty years from now, it doesn’t really matter. From vlogs to channelling your inner Steven Spielberg by creating a short film, YouTube is the perfect outlet to post your stuff. And you don’t even have to make your video public!
20. Sign up for a community class.
It’s the perfect way to start something new, or refine and practice a skill you already have. And you get to make new friends doing so! When you commit to signing up for a class you actually paid money for like Kickboxing, you’re more motivated to actually go and do something, rather than saying, oh I’ll just exercise at home.
21. Set some goals for the future.
Think about your future. For the first time in a long time it’s probably unplanned, and unexpected. You’ve most likely been a student for the past 16 years of your life and now it’s time to move on. Few of you will know exactly where you will be in one or two years, let alone an entire decade from now. This is the time to plan out exactly what you want to do, where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. Time to go HAM on life! (No one says that any more do they…)
…and if you think you’re going to be forever 21, then repeat every year.
As published on Thought Catalog.