Call it nostalgia, call it buyer’s remorse, call it what you will — the fact of the matter is that my college graduation is looming only nine days away. And, in the spirit of sentimentality, I wanted to leave CityBeat with a list of things that those four-and-a-half glorious years taught me — about life, about love and, most importantly, about how much useless trash we’re trying to recycle as treasure. Well, call me eco-friendly. In the name of all that is tired and untrue, I present to you: 25 Things to Do Before You Read Thought Catalog (based on the 25 Things To Do Before You Turn 25 TG list currently littering social media feeds).
1. Make peace with your parents. Whether you finally recognize that they actually have your best interests in mind or you forgive them for being flawed human beings, you can’t happily enter adulthood with that familial brand of resentment.
Make peace with your attention span. Whether you finally recognize it or not, you can actually read something that’s longer than 25 clicks or two pages.
Also, can you really, comfortably say you’re “entering adulthood” if your primary source of direction comes from an aptly titled website that was courteous enough to “catalogue your thoughts” before you even had them? (At least they’re saving you time, not having you of think for yourself.)
2. Kiss someone you think is out of your league; kiss models and med students and entrepreneurs with part-time lives in Dubai and don’t worry about if they’re going to call you afterward.
Kiss the idea of a “league” goodbye. Kiss these stereotypical “unattainables” goodbye. Kiss writers and journalists. Keep thinking like this, and you won’t have to worry why they didn’t call you back afterward. (Put this on the list of Things to Do Before You Ever Want a Healthy Relationship And/Or Self-Image)
3. Minimize your passivity.
Yes, please, minimize your passivity. Live vicariously through an aggregate list that has done your existential pondering for you. Here are the answers: read quietly to yourself and follow each step exactly as it’s written. You’re so agro.
4. Work a service job to gain some understanding of how tipping works, how to keep your cool around assholes, how a few kind words can change someone’s day.
Learn how to be a decent human being — be as fair in your intake as you are in your output. Realize that it's been at least 10 years and 8 grades since you learned why bullies are the way they are. Remember that episode of Hey Arnold. Oh, and a few kind words can change someone’s life*.
5. Recognize freedom as a 5:30 a.m. trip to the diner with a bunch of strangers you’ve just met.
Recognize freedom as the ability to extend yourself beyond the daydreams of a 20-something, fresh to the “city” suburbanite who defines strangers as “people I went to high school with but didn’t really talk to,” and a “diner” as the nearest Waffle House. Recognize freedom as the ability to stop reading this any time you want.
6. Try not to beat yourself up over having obtained a ‘useless’ Bachelor’s Degree. Debt is hell, and things didn’t pan out quite like you expected, but you did get to go to college, and having a degree isn’t the worst thing in the world to have. We will figure this mess out, I think, probably; the point is you’re not worth less just because there hasn’t been an immediate pay off for going to school. Be patient, work with what you have, and remember that a lot of us are in this together.
Try not to beat yourself up over not having obtained a useless Bachelor’s degree. School is hell, and things may have panned out quite like you expected, even if you didn’t get to go to college. Not having a degree isn’t the worst thing in the world. You will probably figure this mess out, while I bite my nails in preparation for a degree that guarantees me a job I could’ve gotten when I turned 15, and an over-sized cap and gown that I get to prance around in at 9:30 in the morning. Oh, and debt before I even start my career.
The point is that you may have more worth to you because you didn’t go to school. Trust me, I’m the one that’s about to graduate from a system that taught me how to play the game, not live the life.
7. If you’re employed in any capacity, open a savings account. You never know when you might be unemployed or in desperate need of getting away for a few days. Even $10 a week is $520 more a year than you would’ve had otherwise.
I’ll just leave this one here, what with that English degree I’ll be getting in a few days.
8. Make a habit of going outside, enjoying the light, relearning your friends, forgetting the internet.
Make a habit of realizing this on your own, not by sitting alone in a dark room, referring back to the Internet.
9. Go on a 4-day, brunch-fueled bender.
If you want to. Or, consider the habits you’re creating now, and remember the consequences they can have later on. Alcoholism doesn’t wait until you turn 25. Unless you had brunch, in which case you’re fine.
10. Start a relationship with your crush by telling them that you want them. Directly. Like, look them in the face and say it to them. Say, I want you. I want to be with you.
Lose your crush by assuming your words have more power than your actions, and that your opinion is definitely going to affect their own. Don’t even think about first gaining their respect — simply set your expectations early for “I want what I want when I want it, and all I have to do is say so.” Enjoy the many years to come of kicking your own ass for this one, even after you’re 25.
11. Learn to say ‘no’ — to yourself. Don’t keep wearing high heels if you hate them; don’t keep smoking if you’re disgusted by the way you smell the morning after; stop wasting entire days on your couch if you’re going to complain about missing the sun.
Learn to say ‘no’ to unnecessary dashes, and to self-righteous, bullet point-fettered, click fishing websites. Don’t keep reading the same shit over and over if you know it’s not going to help. Pleading a pleasure guilty doesn’t erase the original crime. Stop wasting entire Facebook statuses on the same damn link. You’re taking up all the room you could be using to tell us how you’re happily engaged, now that you’ve told your crush you “want them.”
12. Take time to revisit the places that made you who you are: the apartment you grew up in, your middle school, your hometown. These places may or may not be here forever; you definitely won’t be.
Suddenly realize that your puppy never “went to a farm,” that your fish is somewhere in the bowels of a toilet bowl. Realize that you’re not immortal, and gasp for effect. Apparently, lightning does strike twice, Thought Catalog.
13. Find a hobby that makes being alone feel lovely and empowering and like something to look forward to.
Read a book. There, I gave you that one.
14. Think you know yourself until you meet someone better than you.
Spend your life comparing yourself with other people. Realize that self-esteem is actually “that guy's esteem vs. my own.”
15. Forget who you are, what your priorities are, and how a person should be.
Think about if psilocybin might be what’s really missing from your life. See: ego death.
16. Identify your fears and instead of letting them dictate your every move, find and talk to people who have overcome them. Don’t settle for experiencing .000002% of what the world has to offer because you’re afraid of getting on a plane.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Sometimes, everyone’s afraid, and that’s OK. Remember, that’s how television first made it acceptable for grown men to cry on screen. Here’s looking at you, Uncle Jesse.
17. Make a habit of cleaning up and letting go. Just because it fit at one point doesn’t mean you need to keep it forever — whether ‘it’ is your favorite pair of pants or your ex.
Remember that jorts are back in style. Cut accordingly.
18. Stop hating yourself.
Realize that if you’re ever going to find the path to really liking yourself, the first steps should never start with “so I read on Thought Catalog today…”
19. Go out and watch that movie, read that book, listen to that band you already lied about watching, reading, and listening to.
Don’t lie about these things. Be honest with yourself. Yes, it’s OK to still like Bruce Springsteen. Even if it is his new stuff. Remember, he’s the boss, and he “takes care of his own.”
20. Take advantage of health insurance while you have it.
Yes, please. You’ll need it if you decide that the “4-day bender” is necessary. Especially if you skip out on brunch.
21. Make a habit of telling people how you feel, whether it means writing a gushing fan-girl email to someone whose work you love or telling your boss why you deserve a raise.
Make a habit of being resourceful. Write a gushing fan-girl email to the boss you love, and work for that raise.
22. Date someone who says, “I love you” first.
23. Leave the country under the premise of “finding yourself.” This will be unsuccessful. Places do not change people. Instead, do a lot of solo drinking, read a lot of books, have sex in dirty hostels, and come home when you start to miss it.
Waste money on ideas you may already know to be aimless, because Thought Catalog told you to. But at least you’re taking advantage of that health insurance.
24. Suck it up and buy a Macbook Pro.
If your biggest worry before you turn 25 is whether you should purchase a laptop that’s probably already outdated by the time you finally make a decision, print out Thought Catalog’s original list. Print out all of their lists — you need some direction in your life.
25. Quit that job that’s making you miserable, end the relationship that makes you act like a lunatic, lose the friend whose sole purpose in life is making you feel like you’re perpetually on the verge of vomiting. You’re young, you’re resilient, there are other jobs and relationships and friends if you’re patient and open.
Listen to everything Thought Catalog tells you. They’ll be there to pay the bills when you quit that miserable job, they’ll be there to sleep with you at night as you toss and turn, wondering if you made too big of a deal out of her asking you for commitment. As for that whole friend/vomiting thing? Maybe it’s not the friend, but the list of “25 useless things” they’ve sent you that’s making you nauseous.
You’re young, you’re resilient and you can read! Use that slightly heightened intelligence, and think about your actions next time you click on one of these links.
But only if you’re patient. And open.
26. Write in short. Punchy. Sentences. Express generalities so vague that they could be applied to anyone, anywhere. As long as they’re not already 25.