Throughout graduate school, I constantly took on water from my classmates and friends for being several years older than them.  Case in point: the song “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure comes on in a bar.  My friend Mike, always good for a comment, chimes in with, “Hey, did they play this at your junior prom or your senior prom?”  Smartass.

Yesterday, my friend Allison brought this to my attention.

21 Ways You Should Take Advantage Of Your 20s

I’m 29 now, 30 in October.  So I began looking through their list of things partly as a checklist of what I did in my 20s, and partly as a sort of bucket list for things I need to try to knock out in the next three and a half months.  I won’t go through all of them one-by-one, but a few caught my eye.

Don’t feel the need to respond to every text message, phone call, and email the second it reaches you. Once upon a time, it took longer than a minute to reach someone. People used stamps and envelopes; they had answering machines they didn’t check for hours, sometimes days. No one will die if you don’t immediately respond to every message you receive.
I definitely struggle with this one.  I have my iPhone on me at all times and always feel compelled to communicate with people right when they send me something, because I feel like they expect it.  The point the author makes about stamps and envelopes and answering machines is true, but times have changed in the communication department, as I alluded to in a blog post a few weeks ago.  I’m trying to get better at reading an email and resolving to respond when I’m at my computer later that night or the next day.

Never turn down an open bar. Seek them out and make them a priority. Indulging in open bars when you’re older isn’t appropriate because a) people will think you have an alcohol problem and b) you’re supposed to have enough money to afford your own alcohol.
I’m on the cusp with this one.  Going to bars is fun when the time allows and when friends are in town, but if I can drink better stuff at home, and for cheaper, I’d much rather go that route.

Learn how to cook. Here’s an idea — instead of spending all your money on ridiculously marked-up restaurant food, save your money by buying non-processed WHOLE FOODS and LEARNING HOW TO MAKE A MEAL OF REAL FOOD. A meal of real food is not a box of Annie’s Organic Mac and Cheese — that’s PROCESSED FOOD. A meal is something like sauteed brussel sprouts with onions and pinto beans garnished with salt and pepper. You’ll thank yourself for learning how to cook when your metabolism catches up to you.
Well, brussel sprouts are gross, but besides that, this one is spot on.  I learned how to cook when I was in college and had my own kitchen in my dorm starting in my sophomore year.  After I graduated, though, I practically lived alone (roommate was in the military), and I worked pretty long hours at the school and often had announcing duties after-hours, so I would just grab something on the way home.  My bank account and my waistline paid the price.  I cooked a lot more once Jess and I moved to Auburn, and felt much better about what I was eating.

Stay up late. In your 20s, you’re all, “Let’s go to another bar!” “Who wants to eat at a diner?” “Have you guys seen the sun rise from the High Line?” “In this moment I swear we were infinite!” When you get older, this becomes, “What are you doing? Go home. Watch Parks and Rec and go to sleep. What is wrong with you, staying up all night? Who has time for that?” If you’re in your 20s, you do. You have all the time. Do it now and take advantage of how not tired you are. You think you’re crabby now when you stay up too late? You’ll never believe how terrible you feel when you do it in your 30s.
Freakin’ A.  This one was proven for me every time I went out with my 22- and 23-year-old classmates.  I went out one Wednesday night, stayed out until about 11:30, went home, got up for work the next morning, and needed about four cups of coffee to get going.  One of the whippersnappers I went out with, though, came bounding into my office like a spring chicken and informed me that she went to another bar after I headed home and didn’t go to bed until 3.  To be young.

Savor those 20s hangovers. They are a gift from God so that you’ll always remember what your tolerance level is. Your hangover recovery time is like flippin’ Wolverine in your 20s. You wake up, feel like death, pull on some shades, gulp down coffee or maybe a bloody Mary and whine about your headache over brunch. Oh, boo hoo. When you’re older, every hangover is Apocalypse F-cking Now. You’re not making it to brunch. You’re not making it off your goddamn floor in a weeping puddle of regret.
I began to notice about three years ago that I simply cannot bounce back the way I used to.  In my life, I’ve had four hangovers that resulted in that “I AM NEVER DRINKING AGAIN” declaration that everyone has made at one time or another, and three of those were in the last two years.  Back in October I went to Albuquerque to visit my friend Steve and, thanks to the elevation and an unholy amount of tequila, ended up with a hangover that did not dissipate for literally 48 hours.  So yeah, young’n’s, savor it indeed.

Indulge in drunken diner/ fast food at 4 a.m. This is considered depressing behavior once you become a real adult.
Well, in Auburn just about everything that doesn’t serve booze shuts down at 10:00 p.m., so that was hard.  But I’m back in the land of Cook-Out now, so game on.

Stop procrastinating your trip abroad.  Your chances of taking a long vacation abroad diminish as you become more set in your ways and as you gain more responsibility.
Grad school and its finance-draining ways stopped me on this one.  I have a fiancee who also wants to do some traveling, though, so while I may not get to it before I turn 30, we’ll do it.

Do ‘unacceptable’ things to your hair. Dye it. Dread it. Shave only the left side of your head and give a shit if it grows back in a flattering manner (hint: it won’t). There’s no time but now.
Nope.  I’ve had the same hairstyle since I was six.

Somewhere near Vancouver, 2005.

Take road trips. Sitting in a car for days on end isn’t something your body was designed to do forever.
Well, the good news is that I took care of this one already, because this is spot-on accurate.  When I was 22 I flew out to see my friend Will at Stanford University at the end of the school year, and we drove his car back to North Carolina.  We didn’t take I-40, though – we went up the Pacific Coast Highway for a while, hit I-5 and went through Portland and Seattle, went up into British Columbia for a day, came back down through Idaho and Montana (spent a day at Yellowstone), drove through Wyoming and the Dakotas, headed south through Minnesota and Wisconsin to Chicago (went to my friend Brynn’s graduation at Northwestern), and then headed home from there.  It was an amazing experience.  But now, a six-hour drive from Auburn to Kannapolis like the one I took last night leaves my whole body feeling like I was assaulted with a baseball bat.

So, although I don’t like giving homework in my blog posts, I’m curious to hear how some of my friends feel about this list.  It’d be nice if I found out that other people also realize they’re getting a little more advanced as they read it.  Comment away!

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