After 829 posts (to date) and six years of writing on the topic of how to be a 20-something, I feel like I should use this last day of my own 20's to provide some form of getting-by guide.
You should know that this started as a list of thirty five items, but the more I read them over the more I realized it takes very little to end up a happy, productive, debt-free 30-year-old, and that’s coming from one who is sometimes unhappy, often procrastinating, and used to have a ton of credit card debt. What can I say? Do as I’ve learned, not as I’ve done? Nah. I had way too much fun to advise against making some mistakes. Instead I’ll say, shoot for the following standards of living, and hope that fate, luck and a really good economy handles the rest.
Now, drum roll please…
· Spend less than or equal to the exact amount of money you deposit into your bank account every month. If you just read that and thought, “Yeah. Of course. How is that advice?” Congrats! You make enough money to live! If you just read that and burst into tears. Don’t panic! Cut up all your credit cards, return and any all clothes recently purchased, and start over.
· Move out of your parents’ house as soon as you possibly can, but not at the risk of blowing the above rule.
· Ladies, invest in one of those curling rod things. They really do wonders for the hair, and in no time flat! Gentlemen, please donate all of your giant, baggy cargo shorts to the Goodwill, or burn them.
· If you’re still, “not sure what’s going on between us,” after three plus months, the answer is nothing.
· Call people - specifically your family members – as in, on the telephone, using your voice.
· If you don’t know what the hell you want to do with your life, figure out some things you enjoy – hobbies not professions – and find time for those in your week. You’ll probably stumble upon a career in six or so months. If you still don’t know what you want to do with your life after six or so months, go to business school.
· Find a mentor, imaginary or otherwise. For example, mine is Nora Ephron. She was a very real person before she so sadly passed, but we never met and became best friends, as I intended. That has in no way stopped me from modeling my entire life against hers.
· Go on vacation with your best girl or guy friends as often as you can afford. Gchatting all day every day does not compare to spending quality time together reading UsWeekly’s out loud beside a pool in Puerto Rico.
· Never skimp on the following life products: things to make your skin look nice, one amazing set of lingerie, haircuts, bed sheets, dental care, high-speed Internet and birthday dinners.
· Learn to cook three dishes perfectly. This will fool any prospective partner for the time necessary to make them fall for you and will likely fool their parents for life.
· Remove any and all friends that you secretly hate spending time with from your life. I’m still not sure how to do this, but I think it involves not liking their Facebook updates or going to their birthday parties anymore?
· Invest. I’m not kidding. Bookmark this page right now and put whatever money you can spare into a 401K or Roth IRA or…those are the only two options I’m aware of at the moment.
· Develop an ear for your gut and listen to it at all times. Then develop an ear for when your gut is lying to you for “ulterior motivates” (wink) and listen to it most of those times.
· Watch all five seasons of The Wire. All of the most awesome people I know have watched all five seasons of The Wire, so I can only assume a direct correlation. I’m one down, so far.
· Think about if/when you might want to get married and/or have kids. You don’t need to plot it on a graph, freak out about how far behind you are, then run out and freeze your eggs. Just don’t forget to be aware of those ideas and goals.
· Print your photos. You’ll thank me when the Internet dies.
· Take risks – lots of them – but don’t make a fool out of yourself. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re about to make a fool out of yourself, ask a trusted friend or mentor. If they’re not sure either, you are.
· Be the calmest person in the room - any room of any kind, all the time. People trust the calm person. People respect the calm person. People want to date the calm person. But most importantly, the calm person is calm, and that’s really the only way to survive this mad world in one piece.
· Put your phone down and look around. This is not a metaphor.
· Stop drinking so much. I’m not going to put beverage units around that advice. You’re an adult. Know when enough is enough.
· Just call him/her your girl/boyfriend already! What’s the big deal? You’re going to have to break up either way at this point, so just cut the crap.
· Know that most clichés are wrong, but these three are true: fake it ‘til you make it, time heals all wounds, and, as a sober black jack dealer in Vegas once said to R, “You know what you realize after wife number four, sometimes it's not so much them as it is you.”
· And finally, if you’re hoping to transition from your 20’s to your 30’s with little drama, fanfare, or memory of everything you did wrong, don’t start a blog anything like this one…
To those of you who have yet to enter your 20s, good luck, god speed, and I hate you. To those of you who are somewhere in the middle, I know, and I promise it’s going to get better. And to those of you on the other side, is it me or is this a lot less miserable and a lot more exciting than I’ve been making it out to be for, oh, six years and 829 blog posts?
I guess we'll find out tomorrow...