…Or in my 30’s or 40’s or 50’s. Basically, never. No matter how much these lists-of-things-to-do’s convince me otherwise.
I’ve come across many lists like this – things you’re supposed/encouraged to do either before you turn or while you’re at a certain age. Things to do before turning 23. Things to do before turning 25. Things to do before turning 30. Things to do in your 20’s. And, of course, things to do instead of getting married at 23. They’re definitely interesting to read.
But while I love making lists and being able to cross out the things I’ve written down as much as the next passionate and ambitious 20-something, I’ve found that I can’t seem to take a lot of these lists seriously. To me, they’re a lot more like Lists of Totally Crazy and Bizarre Things To Do While You’re In Your 20’s Because You Can Use Your Age As An Excuse To Get Away With Them. I’m not saying all these lists are like that, but a big chunk of them definitely are.
Now, I’m not taking it upon myself to tell you what you should and should not do in your 20’s because you probably know what’s good for you better than I do. But here is a list of things that I do not plan on doing in my 20’s that are taken from lists that say I should do all these things.
1. Making out with a complete stranger
What is it with kissing strangers that appeals to the majority of people who are behind these lists? The last time I checked, I’m pretty sure that’s rude, inappropriate and can be regarded as sexual harassment. Also, just entirely unsafe and risky in a sense that you’ll never know what’ll be transmitted to you, and I’m not even referring to the kissing disease. I’m thinking of things ranging from morning breath and scraps of food stuck between the teeth to cigarette breath and common cold. And all these people are telling me to risk all that for the sake of, what, being able to say I did it before I turned 30? For the sake of being able to recreate that cute, romantic scene you saw in that cute, romantic movie? I think I’ll pass. I’m pretty sure that such a “bold” and “smooth” move like that won’t work in real life the way it does in totally romanticized and unrealistic chick flicks.
2. One-night stands and anything that has to do with having sex with people whose last names I do not know
I’m kidding. I don’t care if I know your mom’s name, your dad’s name or your social security number. You are most definitely not getting, as they say, any of this. For many reasons of which I will only point out three. One, I value the beliefs and values my parents and my faith have instilled in me. And while those beliefs are widely labeled as old-fashioned and outdated nowadays, I’d much rather be old-fashioned and outdated with my dignity still intact than be hip and modern with my legs wide open in front of someone I barely know.
Two, faith and upbringing aside, having sex with a stranger (because, let’s face it, that’s who these lists are referring to), if anything, is inconvenient and tiresome (prior to the sex, I mean). To have sex with someone, you need to capture their attention, hold their attention and in one way or another convince them that you’re spectacular in bed, and you have to do all this in roughly an hour or so. That’s like going through a maze with swinging wrecking balls and shooting fireballs just to get a piece of candy at the finish line. And if you’re pretty enough to be the one whose attention is being wooed, well, do you really want to have that pressure of being able to live up to their expectation of you? That’s like being told you’re the next American Idol even when you haven’t even auditioned yet, and then being forced to prove your vocal skills right after you accept your microphone statue trophy thingy.
And three, one-night stands and careless trysts of passionate love-making are like kissing strangers but much much worse. Why? Because in addition to kissing a person with bad breath, there is also a possibility, a small but very possible possibility, that you’re having sex with a person with STD.
3. Date for all the wrong reasons
I’m all for dating and socializing with other people. It’s fun and it’s a wonderful way to meet new people, make new friends and find The One. What I fail to understand is dating with all these hidden agendas, like:
“Date someone who says ‘I love you’ first.” – I find this to be really shallow. It kind of feels like this is what someone who craves attention would say. Also, this requires some sort of psychic ability, unless you ask the person directly whether or not he’ll say it first before you agree to date him.
“Date someone wrong for you.” – I’m sorry, but isn’t the whole purpose of dating to find someone right for you? Or, at the very least, someone who isn’t wrong for you?
“Date two people at once and see how long it takes to blow up in your face.” – If you date two people, three people, at the same time, that’s fine. It’s not something I’d personally do but it’s definitely something I understand. You want to see which ones you’ll get along with better, who you’ll have better chemistry with. But when you date two people at once to see how long it takes to blow up in your face, then you’re basically dating both of them with only one intention: to see how long it takes to blow up in your face. You’re not dating them to see who you’re more compatible with anymore. You’re dating them because of this distorted social experiment.
4. Blow my money on something that is crazy expensive that I will never really use
I find this funny only because, on the same exact list, I would find another bullet that would say to open a savings account or to save up for your retirement. I’m not against splurging. Every once in awhile, I’d spend my hard earned money on something I wouldn’t normally spend my money on and it feels good. But I wouldn’t spend my money on a ridiculously expensive item that I will never wear or use. That’s not rewarding, that’s impractical. That’s kind of like flushing your money down the toilet. Also, I don’t think I would ever deserve something I will never get to actually use or enjoy. It’s not going to be something like staring at my purchase longingly, thinking to myself, “Oh, look at this ridiculously expensive pair of high heels that I will never wear. Yes, I deserve this.” It’s going to be something more like staring at my purchase receipt wistfully, thinking to myself, “Oh, crap.”
And if I’m able to find something I want that is reasonably priced, I’d much rather choose that over something extravagant. I’d rather go for a really awesome pair of jeans from the department store than buy a similar-looking but way more expensive ones from True Religion. That way, I’ll still have enough money for one (or two) of Burger King’s bacon burgers and three (or four) Dairy Queen M&M Blizzards which, realistically speaking, feels more satisfying than any overpriced item with some fancy Italian brand name stamped on it. So yeah, I’m probably not going to ‘suck it up and buy a Macbook Pro’ when I’m already more than satisfied with my Asus. If (and that’s a big if) I ever spend my money on unnecessary splurges like that, I’d probably wait until I’m retired when making financial blunders is forgivable because my children will be taking care of their Momma. But that’s just me.
5. Do drugs because it’s cool
In one of the articles I read, it says, “Do an illegal drug. Otherwise your kids will think you’re totally lame 30 years down the road.” My mouth literally fell open when I read this. Whether this is written with the intention of being humorous or not, I find this completely inappropriate. First of all, it is utterly disturbing how there are people out there who actually encourage illegal drug use and who imply that drugs are cool. Second of all, it’s appalling how the writer actually expects you to brag about drug use to your future children. And lastly, when did not doing an illegal drug ever become lame?
My kids will think I’m the most awesome mom on the planet because I did things that are fun, interesting and thrilling…and that I didn’t need to be high or stoned while doing them.
6. Party like it’s the end of the world because #YOLO
Party all night? Party all weekend? Drink until you throw up? Drunk text an ex? Not for me.
I was never a party girl, but I’ve had enough experience in da club (yes, I’m from that generation) to know that it’s not a place I’d want to spend my whole weekend in. I can only take a few hours of Dubstep a day. I can only put up with sweaty bodies and stinky alcohol breath even less than that. And I can only tolerate rude and inappropriate drunks never. But above all that, becoming one of them is not at all appealing to me.
I’m only in my 20’s for ten years. As much as possible, I want to be totally conscious, sober and in control of my own actions as much as I can. I want to feel the thrill of every risk I take. I want to taste the consequences of my stupid decisions. I want to experience the rewards of my smart decisions. I want to be able to enjoy my 20’s because of the things I remember doing, not because of the things I forgot.
You know why? Because #YOLO.
7. Fall in love because, in the movies, epic love stories start in your 20’s
Of course, there are epic love stories that begin when the couple is in their 20’s – the most epic one being my grandparents’. But I don’t mean I’m not not going to fall in love in my 20’s. I’m not saying I will either. What I’m saying is I have absolutely no clue when I’m going to fall in love and that’s exactly how I like it. That said, I’m curious to find out how people plan to fall in love, like it’s something you actually do. I’ve never heard a conversation that went like this:
A: So what did you do?
B: I fell in love.
It’s always been something like this:
A: What happened to you? What’s gotten into you?
B: I fell in love.
That’s because falling in love is not something you do, it’s something that happens to you. There’s a reason why it’s called falling in love. No one ever plans to fall; it just happens.
So no, I’m not planning to fall in love in my 20’s. If I do fall in love, trust me, there was no strategic plotting or careful calculation that happened on my part. It’s simply God telling me, “Girl, check this incredible fellow out. You’ll hit it off in no time.”
So what do I plan on doing in my 20’s?
A lot. Small plans. Big plans. Planning for the future is so much fun even when you know there’s a possibility that your plans will not actually happen.
But my plans are my plans not because I’m in my 20’s and I need to accomplish them before turning 30. No, my plans are my plans because they’re what I feel is right for me. And if they don’t work out, that’s fine too. It’s not going to damage how I will see my 20’s when or if I’ve reached my 30’s.
I like to think that the value of my life isn’t measured by the things I didn’t get to cross of a list. I like to think that the fulfillment I get from my life is defined by the moments that I did get to experience.